Ayn Rand – A Genealogical Examination

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

05 Feb 1905 Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum born (St. Petersburg, Russian Empire). She was the eldest of the three daughters of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna (nee Kaplan) Rosenbaum. Zinov’yevna = daughter of Zinovy. This is a Jewish Patronymic form. While she was born into Czarist Russian Empire and by this time Jews were forced to have permanent last names (i.e. Rosenbaum), you can still see Jewish patronymic tradition evidenced in her name. Likewise her father Zinovy has for a middle name a Patronymic indicating his father was probably named: Zakhar (the ‘ovich’ indicating son of) and her mother’s father would have been named Boris. So the names illustrate the Jewish patrilineal culture.

1921-1925 (or possibly even into January of 1926). Alisa Rosenbaum (aka Ayn Rand) was in an affair with a Jewish man upon whom she cheats on, by having an affair with a Communist soldier/bureaucrat. The belligerence and angry behavior in ending the affair with the Communist by Alisa endangers her and her family’s lives. This era is the topic of her first book published in America, We The Living (published 1936). Ayn Rand is herself was quoted saying …

We the Living is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write.–Ayn Rand

27 Jan 1926 Alisa Rosenbaum is in Riga getting her Russian passport for travel to US. She departs Leningrad (aka St Petersburg / Petrograd) on that date going to Le Havre, France (onto USA).

19-Feb-1926 Alice Rosenbaum  arrives in New York City, NY on board the SS De Grasse her Atlantic passage was in a Cabin (not Steerage or 3rd class). The ship manifest says she arrives from her father Sinovy Rosenbaum [who lived at Dmitrowski 16, apt 5 in Leningrad] with $50 in cash and later on she said to have had a beat-up typewriter with her on the trip. Upon arriving, she goes to her uncle Harry Portnoy in Chicago, IL.

She lives with her aunt/uncle in Chicago from February through August and arrives in Hollywood, CA on September 3rd 1926.

1927 Alice meets Frank O’Connor a budding actor on Cecil B deMille set of King of Kings (both were   extras). Alice tripped Frank on the set to get him to notice her. In June, de Mille hires Rand as a junior screen writer.

15 Apr 1929  Los Angeles California. Charles Francis O’Connor marries Alice Rosenbaum. Rand is working in wardrobe at RKO.

1 Apr 1930 Alice O’Connor (wife of Charles F. O’Connor) was married in 1929. According to the 1930 US Census, she is an actor in motion pictures. Alice (aka Ayn) lives at 823 North Gower Ave, Los Angeles, CA.

13 Mar 1931 Alice O’Connor is granted US Citizenship. She had applied for citizenship on 1st-Dec-1930. She had used the Cable Act (1922) to avoid filing a Declaration of Intent. Marriage date is confirmed and a specific location is given.

1932 Rand’s Red Pawn is sold to Universal Pictures.

1934 Her first play (Woman on Trial) opens in Hollywood in October. In November, the O’Connors move back to New York City.

16 Sep 1935 Night of January 16th (formerly, Woman on Trial) opens on Broadway. Frank O’Connor (her actor/artist husband) plays a part in the play. The play was considered a success.

18 Apr 1936 We The Living is published. See quote above for how this book is autobiographical of her life under Communist Russia. The book was a bust.  The publisher destroyed the plates for a reprint — so even after Ayn Rand becomes a popular author this work could not be reproduced. It was  Ayn Rand’s first novel. Like most first novels, it was rejected by a slew of publishers. Macmillan Company did pick it up and publish the work. They only printed  3,000 copies. When reviews were bad  and sales were weak, Macmillan destroyed the type. After Rand achieved success as an author with her later novels, a revised edition of We the Living  was republished.

Early 1939 Rand receives her last communication from her family in Communist Russia.

April 1940 The O’Connors are recorded in the US Census living at 95 East 89th Street. Frank is an actor and Ayn is a writer (novelist & playwright). Ayn works on Wendell Willkie Presidential campaign.

8 May 1943 Ayn gets Fountainhead published. This fictional work is a success. Architects like her for her fictional depiction as a kind of idealized male who was an architect. In November, the O’Connors move back to California so that Ayn can work on the Fountainhead screenplay. This is their second California era.

1944-1957 Ayn Rand works on writing her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged is an 1168 page dystopian sci-fi drama that takes her Objectivist kernel from Fountainhead and explores it full force Atlas Shrugged including a 60 page speech by John Galt.

Alan Greenspan, who is a part of the “Collective” consults with Rand on the economics concepts in Atlas Shrugged.

1945  Frank Lloyd Wrights hosts Ayn at his Taliesin East studio (WI) as Fountainhead hits #6 on NYT Bestseller List.

1948 Nathaniel Blumenthal (later Branden) meets Barbara Weidman who are Fountainhead fans. They would later marry. Barbara introduces Nathaniel to her ex-boyfriend Wilford Schwartz and her cousin Leonard Peikoff. Later these become a part of the Collective.

Spring/Summer 1950 Blumenthal/Weidman visit Rand and O’Connor after numerous letter by Blumenthal to Rand and an exchange of phone numbers. The two couples become close friends.

Summer 1951 Blumenthal/Weidman move to New York City to finish their studies at New York University. By October, the O’Connors move back to New York City ending their second era in California. The Collective (an ironic name) of Rand followers formed at this time. These along with Alan Greenspan (future Fed Chairman) form the “Collective”. Frank O’Connor plays host to these young intellectuals who are led by his wife Ayn.

January 1953 Blumenthal/Weidman get married and Rand/O’Connor are the matron of honor and best man at the wedding. They are now the BRANDENS.

By January 1955 Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand (the original cougar who is 25 years older than Branden) begin a sexual relationship on top of their friendship and intellectual pursuits.

10 October 1957 After 14 years of writing, Atlas Shrugged is published and the dedication reads, “To Frank O’Connor and Nathaniel Branden”. At first Atlas Shurgged is panned by critics. On October 13th the NYT review is published. Alan Greenspan critiques the reviewer  in the November 3rd NYT letters page.

Background / Asides about 1950’s

An enthralling piece by Bill Bradford on Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand with insights on the Collective is found here:

http://www.adabyron.net/taemag_com_greenspan.htm

The material supplied by the Brandens with an excellent timeline whose essential points were echoed above by Bradford (who interviewed the Collective over many hours). This whole Passion Drama with who is sleeping with whom and betraying whom is a big mess requiring a scorecard, that can be found here:

http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/brandens.html

A FAQ on Ayn Rand thoughts on the many topics make the many tales above appear in context and are found at the Objectivist Reference Center here:

http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq.html

A stunning Mike Wallace interview from 1959 is on the Internet in a few places (in two parts). His interview can be found here:

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/04/mike-wallace-interviews-ayn-rand-1959/

In the above interview, she predicts the US will fall and become a dictatorship. Thankfully, 53 years later this bleak prophecy has never come true.

1st Jan 1961 There is also a 30+ minute interview at the University of Michigan, with James McConnell where she lays outs her philosophy. It is a focal point for many of the critical points I make and can be  found here:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Ay

After the 1950’s end Rand is partners with the Collective including the Brandens; They publish the Objectivist newsletter and NBI Lectures on audio tapes. Ironically,  in the midst of these sordid affairs detailed at the many links above, Rand’s essay collection The Virtue of Selfishness is published. It includes articles written by Nathaniel Branden.  But the complexities of these liaisons soon begin to unravel. The unraveling continues throughout the 1960’s until November of 1970 when Ayn Rand republishes The Virtue of Selfishness  with her repudiation of the Brandens, but leaving in Nathaniel Branden’s essays. She yells at Nathaniel Branden, slaps him multiple times in one meeting, curses him with impotency , makes allegations of financial impropriety, finally closing NBI and firing the Brandens . She continues just publishing the newsletter by herself with other junior members.

1970’s Throughout the 1970’s Rand’s writings and her involvement in Objectivism decline.

1974 At the age of 69, after years of heavy smoking Ayn Rand requires surgery for lung cancer. She had started her Social Security benefits and Medicare insurance to cover her real costs of her smoking.

1976 Rand stops her writing for good.

9 Nov 1979 Frank O’Connor (you remember Ayn Rand’s husband) dies. He is buried in Kensico cemetery, Vahalla NY. Frank’s marriage to Ayn Rand had amazenly lasted 50 years amidst all the turmoil. Frank is listed in Social Security Death Database — which just to make plain to non-genealogists means he collected Social Security checks too.

6 Mar 1982 Ayn Rand dies and is buried with her husband Frank O’Connor in Kensico cemetery. You can view their tombstone at Find-A-Gravehttp://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=35266557 .

Next … Ayn Rand vs Objectivism & The Critique

P.S. I have the following genealogical documents that I found in the course of my research:

  1. Alice Rosenbaum (aka Ayn Rand, Alice O’Connor, Ayn Rand O’Connor) 1926 Ship Manifest also see above.
  2. 1930 US Census (Los Angeles, CA @ 823 North Gower Street (matches 1930 US Census, confirms marriage date)
  3. 13 March 1931 Petition For Naturalization & Certificate of Arrival.  The Certificate of Arrival is interesting as it does NOT reference the Ship Manifest and the Petition says the 1922 Cable Act eliminated her requirement for filing a Declaration of Intent. It includes her signature as Alice O’Connor.
  4. 1940 US Census
  5. Ancestry.com SSN Death Master details for Ayn Rand’s social security.

If anyone wants one of these I can email the image or the URL.

About these ads

4 Responses to “Ayn Rand – A Genealogical Examination”

  1. “1921-1925 (or possibly even into January of 1926). Alisa Rosenbaum (aka Ayn Rand) was in an affair with a Jewish man upon whom she cheats on, by having an affair with a Communist soldier/bureaucrat. The belligerence and angry behavior in ending the affair with the Communist by Alisa endangers her and her family’s lives. This era is the topic of her first book published in America, We The Living”

    What is your source that says that Kira’s affairs in We The Living are actually based on affairs that Rand had? Rand’s statement that WTL is “as near to an autobiography as I will ever write” does not say how nearly, and in what ways the novel matched her life in Russia.

  2. Were her parents kill when the nazis invaded Russia?


    Hello Tiberia!

    Thanks for writing the blog. I do not have much info about her family. I believe the timeline could show:
    Nazis, or Stalin as possible culprits — but it is more likely that the hardships of war could have claimed them.

    –Stanczyk

Trackbacks

Tell Me Your Thoughts ...

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 455 other followers

%d bloggers like this: