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Like a lot of teenagers, Nathaniel Blumenthal fell in love with Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Ruggedly individualistic handsome men outsmarting the rest of the dumb world and sleeping with beautiful women who worshiped them ... it was a smart kid's fantasy. There was also some philosophy she made up, which you'll know if you've spent more than five minutes on the Internet.
More hits than "Karl Marx" and "Sasha Grey" put together.
Like a lot of kids with a talent-crush, Nathaniel wrote to his hero and apparently touched her with his writing, because Rand eventually contacted him back. She met the then-19-year-old Nathaniel and his girlfriend, Barbara Weidman, in 1950, and was immediately impressed with them. Not because he was a confident, strapping young man and her own husband, Frank O'Connor, was kind of a bore; nope, it was all about their ideological connection.
The important thing to know about Ayn Rand is that, in all of her books, ideology is foreplay: The characters argue about objective reality, then have a rough fuckfest in a perfectly art deco bedroom or train tunnels. And like many fiction writers, she wanted what she wrote about to be true.
They got close, with Nathaniel even changing his name from Blumenthal to Branden so it contained her last name -- which was also fake. Rand labeled him her "intellectual heir," and then, in the late 1950s, after Nathaniel and Barbara had married, the inevitable happened: Rand got randy.
She scheduled twice a week sexytime sessions for her and Nathaniel, telling both her husband and his wife that this was completely rational and reasonable and they'd have to get used to it. Never mind that Nathaniel was in his 20s and Rand was pushing 50, and that regularly scheduled affairs aren't rational and reasonable -- it was meant to be. But when Rand became depressed about Atlas Shrugged not immediately changing the world, Nathaniel found himself forced to continue a relationship with woman he didn't want anymore. Then he met Patrecia Scott and did a very selfish thing.
Her. He did her.
Rand was all for selfishness, but had very particular ideas about sex. Other people could believe love was blind (and lust was not), but to Rand, "A man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions." So to hook up with a pretty young actress instead of the self-described "most creative thinker alive" was not only emotional but ideological betrayal.
She denounced Nathaniel publicly and privately, telling him, "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health -- you'll be impotent for the next 20 years!"
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Ayn Rand, boner killer.
She excommunicated him from her group and told all her followers he'd committed crimes against reason. Nathaniel wrote a letter basically saying, "Um, no, it's because I just realized she's 50 and I'm in my 20s and actresses are a thing, and also I'm married? There's lots of reasons for me, specifically, at this moment in time, to not have sex with Ayn Rand, is my point." But it was too late. He lost his friends, his livelihood, and any financial support for his business.
He recovered, slowly, going on to do some stuff with the "self-esteem movement," and he apologized for being such an annoying fanboy. Now if only he'd apologize for having forced us to picture Ayn Rand having sex.
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In the early '60s, Maureen Cox was a trainee hairstylist and a regular audience member at the Cavern Club, where this band called the Beatles played. They all knew her, and she even kissed Paul McCartney on a dare. But, because love is beyond reason -- and superior talent and attractiveness -- her heart belonged to Ringo Starr. Her persistence paid off when he finally asked her to dance one night, and they were married in secret in early 1965.
Why isn't Paul at the wedding? PAUL IS DEAD.
It was never easy to be married to a Beatle. Even before the wedding, Maureen had received all kinds of threats from jealous Beatlemaniacs, and she had to give up her career as a hairdresser for her own safety. One fan had even reached through a car window and scratched her across the face.
But at least she had her love! Except that (like another Beatle) Ringo was a shitty husband. He'd had a rough childhood, and going from poverty to immediate worldwide fame is rarely healthy. He soon became an alcoholic, and Maureen had to deal with drugs and affairs and random acts of violence. Yes, lovable old Ringo, the man who wrote "Octopus's Garden," used to beat his wife.
Maureen did have a good friend in George Harrison, who selflessly offered to fuck her pain away, pissing off his own wife and the other Beatles in the process. Their affair, as well as another of Ringo's, led to a bitter divorce and many years of depression. Eventually, Maureen found something resembling happiness when she married Isaac Burton Tigrett, the man who founded the Hard Rock Cafe. He oh-so-lovingly called her his "ultimate collectible."
"We'll put you right by Sid Vicious' used syringe!"
Ringo and Maureen did sort of reconcile after he got sober. Unfortunately, by then she was dying of leukemia. But at least he was there, and at least Maureen got a Beatle to write a song about her. Except it wasn't Ringo. Or George. It was Paul, and it wasn't released until after her death.
So ... at least one member of the greatest band ever was a consistently decent human being.
Be sure to check out more from Mara in 7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective).