It’s commonly known that Frank Lloyd Wright served as inspiration for the Howard Roark character in Ayn Rand‘s The Fountainhead. Last weekend, though, the LA Times made note of the lesser-known correspondence between the two that preceded that book’s publication.
Wright, it seems, wasn’t initially eager to meet with Rand (maybe he sensed, even then, their ideological differences?), but their letter-writing “evolved into a robust exchange of ideas as well as this: a preliminary rendering of a ‘cottage studio,’ in colored pencil on paper, that the legendary architect crafted for Rand.” The rendering (above) apparently left quite an impression on her:
The house you designed for me is magnificent. I gasped when I saw it. It is the particular kind of sculpture in space which I love and which nobody but you has ever been able to achieve. I was not very coherent when I told you what kind of house I wanted—and I had the impression that you did not approve of what I said. Yet you designed exactly the house I hoped to have. The next time somebody accuses you of cruelty and inconsideration toward clients, refer them to me.
My views on Rand’s Objectivism aside, it’s too bad the cottage studio was never constructed. While preparing for the filming of King Vidor’s The Fountainhead, Rand flirted with moving out to Los Angeles, but ultimately decided she was better off in Manhattan.
One of Rand’s early letters went to great lengths to assure Wright that her Roark was not about him per se, “My hero is not you. I do not intend to follow in the novel the events of your life and career.”
Well, if Rand had followed Wright’s career, it would certainly have been interesting to see how her novel might have accommodated the below ‘56 clip from What’s My Line. In it, the master architect plays the game show’s “mystery guest.” (That’s Rat Packer and JFK brother-in-law Peter Lawford blindfolded on the right.)
In the LAT: Frank Lloyd Wright Sketch On Exhibit