Ayn Rand on The Johnny Carson Show

gregster's picture
Submitted by gregster on Mon, 2012-07-23 15:19

A person has made available what was long thought to have been destroyed — Ayn Rand's appearance on The Tonight Show.

Rand is again in fine touch here, and this is enjoyable without any antagonism from ignorant audience members, as was the case on the Donahue Show.

"I regard religion as the infancy of mankind. It is the pre-philosophical stage, and a great many people are still in their infancy."

Evan Picoult: "At the beginning of her discussion with Carson, AR referred to a song that had been performed earlier that evening before she went on stage. If it was not obvious from her remarks, that song was "The Impossible Dream", from the musical The Man from La Mancha."

Edward Dorr Peyton: "He bumped Buster Crabb for this appearance, he says so at the end of the interview. The 2nd appearance was about 6 months later, also in B&W. They reported in "The Objectivist" at the time that the Carson show told them they got more letters about Ayn Rand's appearance then they had ever gotten before. That was why they had her back. Johnny was such a class act."

Hat tip to Kerry O'Quinn. I've joined the two 13 minute videos and tweaked the sound. I'll add further details as I find them.


"Tonight I was lucky enough to be invited to a very small Ayn Rand get together. It was hosted by an old friend of hers, and consisted of a handful of Objectivists from back in her day (Nathaniel Branden was even there). Unbelievably, this guy recorded everything from all her talk show interviews, to old college radio lectures, to even a fashion show the whole group put together back in the 60's (or 50's, can't remember).

The highlight of the night for me was to watch Ayn Rand on Johnny Carson. I have seen her Phil Donahue and Mike Wallace interviews in the past, but I enjoyed this one more. Instead of putting Rand on the defense or wasting time having her argue with audience members, Carson made sure it was in no way a hostile environment; this relaxed her, bringing out more of Rand's personality and humor. Carson even canceled the other guests, leaving Rand to answer questions the whole show (more than 90% of which was Rand talking, because he didn't cut her answers short).

This interview would be great to show people who are new to Rand's ideas; it shows her having a good time, smiling, and joking around while teaching. People who are newly introduced to her might open up more and listen, as opposed to closing off because of her usually blunt, stern approach (which I also enjoy very much).

I'm not quite sure what he plans on doing with all of this footage, but I was talking to him about what a valuable learning tool it would be if they were in circulation. I'll talk to him about it more when I go over to see another few interviews (all of which I never knew to exist!)."

It does suck

gregster's picture

Fox got rid of its copies, by design or disaster. A guy recorded the show at home, poorly, one of few with the tech, and puts it out 45 years later, and they somehow scoured Youtube to claim the copyright.

I think at times like this they should get a grip and get real. It wouldn't have seen the light of day in the hands of the Fox fuckers.

It's still up at Kerry O'Quinn's.


Richard Goode's picture

IP sucks.


Jules Troy's picture

That sucks.


FOX copyright

gregster's picture

The game's up for this vid, and I've been notified my account will suffer if I don't delete it. I see the same has happened to other Rand/Carson uploads.

Perhaps you could explain

RLKocher's picture

Perhaps you could explain where you think she went wrong? I'll re-sticky this to the top of the page in the hope of engendering debate. I think she had good answers to *all* questions that were asked here, though I'd want to modify her answers to some that weren't.

It's been 40 0r 50 years since I saw her original appearance on Carson. I'm using an engineering grade computer which doesn't do U-tube or sound. Consequently, I'm reliant of distant memory. I found her presentation to be quite enjoyable. Additionally she gave several pieces of advice who's exact wording I can't remember but have stuck with me over the years. Therefore I won't attempt to repeat them.

I don't believe you and I have any basis to quarrel over this.

Mr Kocher ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Perhaps you could explain where you think she went wrong? I'll re-sticky this to the top of the page in the hope of engendering debate. I think she had good answers to *all* questions that were asked here, though I'd want to modify her answers to some that weren't.

How magnificently she presented herself! With such beautiful diction, even with the thick accent! What clarity in the service of exaltation—the antithesis of pomowankery!

I remember watching that

RLKocher's picture

I remember watching that show. She had eyes like lasers that seemed like they were boring holes in the camera. She had good answers to a lot of questions.


Jules Troy's picture

Glad I found this, she was spectacular and looked very relaxed, as if informally teaching the audience!

It made me really happy to see the audience clapping when she brought up how her reasons for being against the war were entirely different than the protesters.

Thank you for sharing this!

Rand Rising

gregster's picture

For people's information, this Youtube of this old show has clearly benefited from an upsurge in interest in all things Rand since Mitt Romney announced his running mate Paul Ryan. Here is the viewing analytics provided by YT.

It's since moved to 6,655 just in the last day or so.


Brant Gaede's picture

edit--see my post on the "30th" below written on the 26th.


1967 TV listings etc.

gregster's picture

Some further information has become available thanks to D. P. Hayes.

Interesting, again, Ross

gregster's picture

O'Quinn's had a large life. I read all the articles beginning here at his site last night. And he beat cancer.

'It Once Was Lost But Now Is Found'

gregster's picture

Posted July 25, by David Boaz Cato @ Liberty

In the 1960s Ayn Rand was becoming a major cultural presence. She drew overflow crowds at colleges from Yale to Wisconsin to Lewis and Clark. She wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times. She was interviewed by Alvin Toffler in Playboy. (The interview can be found in The Libertarian Reader.) She accepted an offer to place her papers in the Library of Congress.

And in 1967 her celebrity was officially recognized by an invitation to appear on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Those who remember it say that Carson was so fascinated that he scrapped his other guests and kept her on for the whole show. He invited her back twice more. Alas, many of the early Carson shows were lost in a fire at NBC’s archive, and Objectivists have lamented the lost tapes ever since.


Brant Gaede's picture

After MacArthur had grossly over-extended UN forces and divided his armies on each side of the Korean peninsula, the Chinese attacked. We were then to use nukes to salvage his failed campaign? This was our greatest general of at least the 20th Century, but he was a disaster just before and after the start of WWII and after the brilliant Inchon landing.

Nothing you said so far informs me that the North Vietnamese communists would have delayed their aggression to unify Vietnam under their communist regime because we nuked North Korea--actually the invading Chinese--some years before.

I understand Eisenhower let it be known sub rosa he would use nukes unless an armistice was signed, and the threat was successful. The communists knew pretty much what Truman would do. Eisenhower was a believable wild card. Representations were probably made to the main behind the scenes player, the USSR. Sort of like Iran not wanting to deal with Reagen after Carter.

We never "needed" to fire a single bullet in Vietnam, regardless.



gregster's picture

"I was present in the audience for that show—not as one of Miss Rand's entourage, but through a friend who had “connections.”

My main recollection of the event was not ideological: it was how loud and emotional was the Tonight Show band. On TV, it seemed quite mild and incidental, but in the studio/auditorium it rocked the place." (Harry Binswanger)

You could have won...

Marcus's picture

...if McArthur had been allowed to nuke North Korea like he wanted to you probably wouldn't have needed to fire a single bullet in Vietnam.

As you said though, the US didn't even fight to win. There was altogether too much foot dragging and dithering by successive Presidents. There was no single clear unified strategy.


Brant Gaede's picture

Rand was both ignorant and naive about economic blockades causing the collapse of Cuba or the USSR. Also, the "right" to invade is actually the non-right of a dictatorship to resist or protest, especially on moral grounds.

Marcus, we couldn't have won the Vietnam War for various reasons without going places we'd have had no business going to. I was afraid it would be unwinnable in 1965 undergoing jump training at Ft. Benning when I was 20, for the simple geo-political reason of South Vietnam's long and therefore indefensible borders. I knew that even more strongly when I left Vietnam in 1967, for we weren't even fighting to win, much less for real freedom. Ironically, and it turned out to be a surprise to me, the US did win that war or is still winning that war if you know and evaluate what is going on in that country today. Even as long as the late 1970s, the Vietnamese communist regime invaded Cambodia and kicked out the much worse Cambodian communist regime there. No help I know of from the US for that. Vietnam also stopped a Chinese communist invasion of its north around the same time. Communists fighting communists. All we needed to have done was buy popcorn and beer and enjoy the spectacle.


edit: I found this post unposted tho I wrote in on the 25th or 26th.

Rand out of hand!

Marcus's picture

"...at best would have supported retaliation."

I thought Rand's opinion was that during the missile crisis Cuba should have been nuked?

Now this playboy article contradicts all that. If she thought Cuba was a threat then, how the hell could she say it wasn't the right time to attack them later?

It would be like Bush saying: in the past Saddam was an evil bastard threatening our safety in the west, but what the hell. I'll just keep up with the sanctions and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Rand was bloody naive!

The wonderful thing...

Ross Elliot's picture

...about Carson is that he's quite content to have a serious discussion.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'd remind folk they should be clear as to: to whom they are responding when they post, especially when using the pronoun "you," and even more especially when their agenda is Ronroid.

S'ok, Greg, here is that orginal...

Ross Elliot's picture

... Starlog article. May 1979. I was 16.


Ross Elliot's picture

...at best would have supported retaliation.

An Objectivist state could not have supported the adventurism that the US has engaged in recently. Rand would not have supported it.

What we have in play is a type of modern conservative Objectivist that, although they profess Objectivism, they also have shutters on that allow them to barrack for conservative interventionism. The mindset seems to be: we have this very large, un-Objectivist state *already*, so what the hell, let's use it for all it's worth, all the while maintaining that the state should be as small as possible.

The contradiction is obvious. You can't have your minarchist Objectivist state and eat it, too. You can retaliate, and with venom, but you can't occupy, colonise or nation-build.

So, if you agree with my last, where does that leave you with regard to the last 11 years in Afghanistan, or the last nine years in Iraq?

Interesting Ross

gregster's picture

Thanks for that. I'll see what I can find. I had to thank him for publishing this gem.


Ross Elliot's picture

...thanks for mentioning Kerry O'Quinn, the man who brought me to Rand so many years ago.

He published a science fiction magazine, Starlog, way back in the 70s. He wrote a eulogy to Rand as a Starlog editorial. One of his writers wrote a review of Atlas Shrugged.

This is how it happens. Oh, the memories. One day you're reading about Star Wars, the next you're buying the Signet edition of Atlas. He saved me. Christ, I could cry. That simple, almost missed connection. Thanks, Kerry.

Actually ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... even Paul supported the Afghanistan exercise. It's only become "costly" because America, in the legitimate process of liberating slave pens, didn't press home its advantage, but rather, paralysed itself with ridiculous, sacrificialist, appeasing, politically correct rules of engagement and terms of settlement. Ditto Iraq.

Funnily enough, this Carson interview pointed up, for me, certain broader weaknesses in Rand's philosophical positions, on which opinion I'll elaborate in due course. Have to deal with the vile Wagner first, and even that will have to wait for several more days because of pressing and utterly prosaic preoccupations. An old tart's work is never done! Eye

I do not think you slavishly...

Marcus's picture

...follow Rand, you are not a Randroid - neither am I.

I could easily imagine Rand substituting the words Iraq and Afghanistan for Soviet Union and Cuba were she alive in 2003.

Would you actively advocate that the United States invade Cuba or the Soviet Union?

Not at present. I don’t think it’s necessary. I would advocate that which the Soviet Union fears above all else: economic boycott, I would advocate a blockade of Cuba and an economic boycott of Soviet Russia; and you would see both of those regimes collapse without the loss of a single American life."

She wouldn't support Paul's premise (that the US doesn't have the right and will only provoke worse) but she would support his conclusion (that it was costly and unnecessary).

Draw your own conclusions ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I believe that Rand would denounce Ron Paul as only she could for his readiness to abandon Israel and capitulate to Islamofascists. But for me personally, that's not the point. I loathe that wretched appeaser for those reasons, whether she would or not.

In any event:

What about force in foreign policy? You have said that any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany during World War II . . .


. . . And that any free nation today has the moral right—though not the duty—to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba, or any other “slave pen.” Correct?

Correct. A dictatorship—a country that violates the rights of its own citizens—is an outlaw and can claim no rights.

Would you actively advocate that the United States invade Cuba or the Soviet Union?

Not at present. I don’t think it’s necessary. I would advocate that which the Soviet Union fears above all else: economic boycott, I would advocate a blockade of Cuba and an economic boycott of Soviet Russia; and you would see both of those regimes collapse without the loss of a single American life.

Would you favor U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations?

Yes. I do not sanction the grotesque pretense of an organization allegedly devoted to world peace and human rights, which includes Soviet Russia, the worst aggressor and bloodiest butcher in history, as one of its members. The notion of protecting rights, with Soviet Russia among the protectors, is an insult to the concept of rights and to the intelligence of any man who is asked to endorse or sanction such an organization. I do not believe that an individual should cooperate with criminals, and, for all the same reasons, I do not believe that free countries should cooperate with dictatorships.

Would you advocate severing diplomatic relations with Russia?


Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand
Playboy, March 1964

It seems to me that Rand...

Marcus's picture

...did not support US involvement in any war.

Not WWI, WWII and I doubt the war in Korea either.

As Greg just pointed out she even opposed Reagan fighting the cold war.

It seems to me she believed only in protecting American borders and that was it.

Was she then of the Ron Paul school of military isolationism?

I disagree on her stance on the Vietnam War. If the US had won that war, as it should have done the Korean war, I am convinced that it would have resulted in a more free world today and that communism would have fallen sooner.

Linz it is apparent Rand would not have supported the Vietnam war no matter how perfectly it were executed.

Remember Peokoff wrote with her approval:

"Once again [the first time being the first world war], the American public, which was strongly ‘isolationist,’ was manipulated by a pro-war administration into joining an ‘idealistic’ crusade.”

If she were alive in 2003, she would have said the same.

Just got back ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... from a few days of running amok in Wgtn—first chance to watch this. Marvellous. Of special interest to me was her emphatic opposition to the Vietnam war. I'm currently reading "LBJ, the Mastermind of the JFK Assassination." Whatever you might think of that thesis, the cronyism and arbitrariness of the blunder into Vietnam documented in the book are horrifying. And of course, it was conscripts who were sent there.

I'd love to have been in Carson's chair. When we started the Perigo! show on Stratos, some folk expressed disappointment that it wasn't a shouting match. I'm in complete agreement with what Ayn and Johnny say at the end of this interview. There's a place for shouting matches, no doubt—Gobby knows I was party to enough of them in my days on mainstream TV—but there's nothing like a nice, thoughtful, respectful discussion.

Far fetched?

gregster's picture

More of Ayn's far-fetched ideas:

Wars are the second greatest evil that human societies can perpetrate. (The first is dictatorship, the enslavement of their own citizens, which is the cause of wars.)

By the nature of its basic principles and interests, [Capitalism] is the only system fundamentally opposed to war.

Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe that capitalism gave mankind the longest period of peace in history—a period during which there were no wars involving the entire civilized world—from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

Statism—in fact and in principle—is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country’s economy, he attacks his neighbors.

Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.

It is true that nuclear weapons have made wars too horrible to contemplate. But it makes no difference to a man whether he is killed by a nuclear bomb or a dynamite bomb or an old-fashioned club. Nor does the number of other victims or the scale of the destruction make any difference to him.

If nuclear weapons are a dreadful threat and mankind cannot afford war any longer, then mankind cannot afford statism any longer. Let no man of good will take it upon his conscience to advocate the rule of force—outside or inside his own country. Let all those who are actually concerned with peace—those who do love man and do care about his survival—realize that if war is ever to be outlawed, it is the use of force that has to be outlawed.

If I remember correctly, it was economics which brought down the Soviets. Ayn Rand says here they would collapse if left alone because of their evil. Rand disliked Reagan treating the Soviet threat seriously. She knew it could not compete. This is one of the advances of her Objectivism. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed. A mixed economy will tend towards further controls. Control - coercion - is contrary to Man's nature. And it doesn't ever succeed. Statists always run out of other people's money.

Ayn Rand's contention that mixed economies...

Marcus's picture

...lead to world wars sounds a bit far-fetched these days.

Unless you consider the cold war to be a war, it was nukes not economics that have prevented another world war.

I know what she means, but such an argument would not convince people anymore.

Thanks for posting that gregster.


Brant Gaede's picture

Well, when I was watching movies at Kerry's place over 40 years ago he had some equipment and had done some filming and likely it was his camera that caught the fashion-show action. His work--at least some of it--was "in the camera," meaning the film was edited only by careful choice of what to film and for how long. Today that's called "raw" video--but not the same thing. I don't think anybody does much in the camera film work, not then and certainly not now. It's now too easy to edit. I worked with an editing machine and 16mm stock when I attented some NYU film-making classes. I spent hours learning how to splice without the splice coming apart. We went out into the city to film our stories. Once we got official permission to film in a Manhattan subway station and a transit representative appeared to monitor what we were doing. (1974) Another time we filmed a bank robbery inside a bank that had just closed for the day. One of our fellow students was the nephew of the CEO of Manufacturers Hanover, famous for the patch over one eye. (You need a bank to film in? Which branch? No problemo! [The real problem was running around outside with a fake gun and the cops coming while we were filming it.])



Craig Ceely's picture

I think you're probably right. But it was film with sound, so ... an amateur with some resources. Made me curious.


Brant Gaede's picture

I don't think they had the fashion show with the idea of filming it. The film was simply done by an amateur. I suspect by a friend of Kerry O'Quinn who probably spliced it onto his romantic screen heading. This had nothing to do with television.



Craig Ceely's picture

Not sure what you mean by asking that, but...well, one thing did occur to me while watching the video of the fashion show: if they are going to discuss the colors of the different outfits, then why film the damn thing in black and white?

Granted, this was back when a lot of US television was still black and white, but still..we didn't all have color TV, and not all television shows were available in color, but it did exist by 1967. Wasn't everywhere in the US, but it wasn't rare, either.

Thanks Craig

gregster's picture

I've just added the Fashion Show vid from YT too. Humor?

Frank O'Connor at around 2:30.

Nice catch, Greg!

Craig Ceely's picture

This was her August 11, 1967 appearance on The Tonight Show; her second was on October 26 of the same year. There was a third, originally scheduled for December 11, but it may have actually taken place in 1968.

Great catch, and thanks for a nice editing job, too.


Brant Gaede's picture

This had to have been the first of three appearances, in August 1967, because here is where Carson cancelled the other guests, meaning he was surprised by her. He wasn't going to be surprised twice. This is the first I've seen this, I did catch one of the two following after I got back from Vietnam in early September. This is a major cultural, historical artifact. It's also very good Objectivism 101 as presented back in the day by its best presenter. No one could give you a feel for her philosophy like Ayn Rand could.


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