Robert Stack (1919–2003) portrayed Eliot Ness in The Untouchables television series, for which he won a Best Actor Emmy award in 1960. He wrote to AR after reading her article “The New Enemies of ‘The Untouchables,’” which appeared July 8, 1962, in the Los Angeles Times and is reprinted in The Ayn Rand Column.
36 East 36th Street
New York 16, New York
July 25, 1962
Dear Mr. Stack:
Thank you. I hoped that of all those connected with “The Untouchables,” you would see my column. When I received your letter, it was the kind of moment I would have gladly included in one of my novels.
It means a great deal to me that my column pleased you. I am extremely indignant about the vicious injustice of the attacks on “The Untouchables” and the psychological roots of those attacks—and I intend to fight that battle by every means open to me.
“The Untouchables” is my favorite TV program, the only one I watch regularly. The show is actually made by your performance and would collapse without it. You are the only actor I have ever seen who is able to project heroism and integrity convincingly. The most remarkable part of your performance is the extent to which you succeed in conveying that these are intellectual qualities.
When I read that you liked “The Fountainhead” and had wanted to play Roark, I thought—to quote Toohey—that “things like that are never a coincidence.”
I am very curious to know what you saw in the character of Roark. Would you care to tell me why you thought that you were the only one who could play him? I am asking it because, you see, I agree with you.
I have been approached several times about the possibility of doing a live TV special of “The Fountainhead,” and I have been saying that the only man who could play Roark is Robert Stack.
There are very few achievements that I can admire in today’s culture; yours is one of them. So I want to thank you for all the Thursday evenings I enjoyed.
I would be more than happy to meet you in person. Since, unfortunately, I don’t expect to be in California in the foreseeable future, please let me know when and if you come to New York.
With sincere admiration,
Stack answered that he “was intrigued as an actor by [Roark’s] uniqueness, his devotion to the purity of his art or craft, and his unquenchable belief in the right of the individual to fight for that inner dream.” On a visit to Los Angeles in 1963, AR did have dinner at Robert Stack’s home. See Letter 512 in this chapter.