Picture courtesy of Eric Latzky; transcription by Jonathan Hoenig of recollections by Leonard Peikoff—and a reflection of my own.
Ayn Rand liked Muhammad Ali. (There is evidence that she liked boxing.) She even considered casting Ali in a film adaptation of ATLAS SHRUGGED, which was in development during the 1970s.
According to Leonard Peikoff, a long-time friend, Ayn took Ali “as a symbol of self-confidence. He did it in the form of humor. . . .He came in there dancing and [the other boxers] came in long faced, heavily muscled and tense. He came in dancing and giving poetry . . . “
For what role in ATLAS SHRUGGED did Ayn Rand propose Muhammad Ali? I don’t know. I do know my casting choice would have Warner Bros. remake THE FOUNTAINHEAD.
”He was forty years old, he dressed like a fashion plate and looked like a prizefighter, though he was not burly, muscular or tough: he was thin and angular.”
Who said this:
“Do you think integrity is the monopoly of the artist? And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor’s pocket? No, it’s not as easy as that. If that were all, I’d say ninety-five percent of humanity were upright men”
The character is Kent Lansing. He is the first to depict and, simultaneously, oppose a key idea of THE FOUNTAINHEAD, which became the “second-hander.” I think Ali might have portrayed Lansing well.
Ali fought his battles. Maybe I didn’t always agree with them. (On essentials, maybe I did). But in life, Muhammad Ali was tough—as man should be—like a dancer and a poet.
Jeff Britting, a composer and author, is working on an opera based on Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun and a collection of Hollywood-themed short stories.
(The views expressed here are the author’s. He does not speak for any other person or organization.)