Ayn Rand met Gloria Swanson during Wendell Willkie’s 1940 campaign for president and, during the last week of the doomed campaign, answered questions in a Manhattan studio rented by Swanson for use in the campaign. “Of all the speakers who came to talk there and share the podium with me, the most memorable by far was Ayn Rand, who had a fascinating mind and held audiences hypnotized,” wrote Swanson in her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson (New York: Random House, 1980). Rand’s copy of the letter exists only in handwritten pencil.
Feb. 3, 1941
Dear Miss Swanson
I have just heard from Mr. Joseph Kamp that you are back in New York, and I am writing to thank you for the picture you sent me, for remembering my request and for the lovely way in which you granted it.
Your picture is the only remembrance of the campaign that will remain with me. And working with you is my nicest memory of the whole campaign. I do hope that you have recovered a little from the disappointment which we all felt. I am not sure that I have quite recovered—or ever will. But then, I’ve always been like an elephant—and now I am beginning to realize what a sad load an elephant must be carrying through life.
With my gratitude and sincere admiration for you—since my days in Russia[*]—to the present—and always—
*AR saw her first Swanson film, DeMille’s Male and Female, on December 26, 1924, in St. Petersburg, and placed Swanson #14 on the “favorite actresses” list she compiled in the 1920s.