Kim Novak


Actor
Kim Novak

About

Also Known As
Marilyn Novak, Marilyn Pauline Novak
Birth Place
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Born
February 13, 1933

Biography

A rare combination of icy aloofness and earthy sensuality helped to make actress Kim Novak one of the top box office stars in Hollywood during the 1950s and early 1960s. Films like "Picnic" (1955) and "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955) gave her the chance to display her dramatic and even vulnerable sides, but it was Alfred Hitchcock who provided her with an enduring showcase as the obj...

Photos & Videos

Vertigo - Lobby Card Set (1963 reissue)
Bell, Book and Candle - Movie Posters
Phffft - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Ramfis Trujillo
Companion
Born August 2000.
Ramfis Trujillo
Companion
Son of Dominican dictator; briefly involved in late 1950s.
Sammy Davis Jr
Companion
Lumberman.
Sammy Davis Jr
Companion
Actor, singer.

Notes

In December 2001, Novak's home in Oregon was robbed of more than $200,000 worth of firearms and tools. Three men were arrested and charged with burglary, theft and criminal conspiracy.

On working with Alfred Hitchcock: "I found him to be very polite. I didn't think I could ever know him, what he was really thinking, because he was not a person to show a lot of that. I like to know what someone's like. He was always masking who he was." --to the San Francisco Examiner, October 19, 1996.

Biography

A rare combination of icy aloofness and earthy sensuality helped to make actress Kim Novak one of the top box office stars in Hollywood during the 1950s and early 1960s. Films like "Picnic" (1955) and "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955) gave her the chance to display her dramatic and even vulnerable sides, but it was Alfred Hitchcock who provided her with an enduring showcase as the object of James Stewart's affections in "Vertigo" (1958). By the end of the 1960s, Novak had pulled back from the daily Hollywood grind, choosing to take a hiatus from film. Her absence from the public eye only increased the allure of her legend, and preserved her status as one of postwar Hollywood's most mysterious and appealing actresses.

Born Marilyn Pauline Novak on Feb. 13, 1933, she was one of two daughters born to her Czech parents in Chicago, IL. She began her career in front of the cameras as a teenaged model for a local department store, eventually touring the country as "Miss Deepfreeze" for a refrigerator company. The job took her to Los Angeles, where she landed an uncredited cameo in the 3-D Jane Russell feature "The French Line" (1954) for RKO. Novak's shapely figure and cool demeanor caught the eye of Columbia talent director Max Arnow, who brought her to the attention of studio chief Harry Cohn. Novak was signed to a long-term contract and molded as a bombshell in the fashion of Marilyn Monroe, whose popularity was on the wane, thanks to her chronic health and personality issues. According to Novak, Cohn informed her in decidedly offensive terms that she was to change her name - Kit Marlowe was the original suggestion, but both parties eventually agreed on Kim Novak - and lose weight. She was also required to take acting lessons, for which she was to pay out of her own pocket.

Novak captured the attention of critics and audiences alike with her first role, a femme fatale in the noirish "Pushover" (1953) with Fred MacMurray. Her appeal spiked even further after her turn as a Monroeesque starlet in "Phfft!" (1954), a gentle sex comedy with Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday. She broke from the sexbomb mold with her next picture, a screen adaptation of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Picnic"(1955), which cast her as a small town innocent who runs afoul of William Holden's broken-down ex-football star. The film earned her a nomination from the BAFTA Film Awards. She continued to prove her dramatic skills as a sympathetic neighbor to Frank Sinatra's drug addict in "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1956) and opposite Tyrone Power in "The Eddy Duchin Story" (1957). But Columbia viewed Novak as a star rather than an actress, and continued to place her in lightweight material like "The Jeanne Eagles Story" (1957) and the musical "Pal Joey" (1957) in which she tried to out-sex the studio's aging Love Goddess, Rita Hayworth.

Despite the undermining of her burgeoning talent, the studio helped to place her in the Top 10 box office attractions of the late 1950s. Her popularity was underscored by her regular appearance in the tabloids of the day, which linked her to a variety of leading men, including Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. - a scandal at the time, given he was an African-American - and Cary Grant. One of her suitors, Ramfis Trujillo, whose father was Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, even made her the subject of debate on the floor of the United States Congress after she received the gift of a sports car from him.

After Vera Miles was forced to bow out of Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958) due to her pregnancy, the acclaimed suspense director cast Novak in the dual role of the blonde and mysterious Madeleine Elster and her bookish brunette double, Judy Barton; both of whom become obsessions for private detective James Stewart. Hitchcock made excellent use of Novak's seductive qualities, as well as her own internal conflict over her image and its manipulation by others. The result was one of the director's finest and most enduring efforts, as well as the best role of Novak's film career. Sadly, it would also prove to be the last time she would receive such a standout role on screen.

She reunited with Stewart and Lemmon that same year for a film version of the popular play "Bell, Book and Candle" (1958), but the results were flat and Novak's comedic skills seemed woefully inadequate. Subsequent efforts followed the same downward path; "Strangers When We Meet" (1960) was a sudsy drama about neighborhood affairs, while "The Notorious Landlady" (1962) and "Boys' Night Out" (1962) emphasized her physical charms over her acting abilities. Novak's appearances in these mediocre projects were made all the more baffling by the list of films she rejected - among them were "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961), "The Hustler" (1961) and "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962). A 1964 remake of "Of Human Bondage" resulted in critical brickbats, and Billy Wilder's "Kiss Me, Stupid" (1964) was overwhelmed by the wave of outrage from religious and moral groups over its casual attitude towards sex. The film later earned a cult following among devotees of the director and Novak.

Novak ended her long reign at the box office with "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders" (1965), an underwhelming adaptation of the Daniel Defoe novel. Like "Kiss Me, Stupid," it tanked with ticket buyers, though Novak gained a husband in her co-star, English theater actor, Richard Johnson. The couple was married less than a year. She soon turned her back on moviemaking for three years, only to return for another miserable flop, Richard Aldrich's morbid camp drama "The Legend of Lylah Clare" (1968). Its failure drove her back into retirement, though there were occasional forays into TV-movies like the effective "Satan's Triangle" (1975). There were sporadic film appearances during the decade as well, though few would consider the British horror anthology "Tales That Witness Madness" (1973) or "The White Buffalo" (1979), which pitted Charles Bronson against a bison the size of a steam liner, as worthwhile additions to Novak's credits.

Novak began the 1980s with appearances in David Hemmings' "Just a Gigolo" (1980), which marked the return of Marlene Dietrich to motion pictures, and the Agatha Christie mystery "The Mirror Crack'd," which cast her and Elizabeth Taylor as - appropriately enough - fading movie queens. From 1986 to 1987, she enjoyed a recurring role on the primetime soap opera "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-1990) as a shady lady on the run from European criminals who poses as the stepdaughter of wealthy industrialist Peter Stavros (Cesar Romero). The show's producers paid tribute to Novak's Hollywood legacy by naming her character after her original nom du screen, Kit Marlowe. She also appeared in the pilot for NBC's revival of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (NBC/USA, 1985-89) opposite John Huston in an unsettling remake of "The Man from the South," a memorable episode from the original series (CBS/NBC, 1955-1965).

Novak's final screen appearance came in 1991 with "Liebestraum," a thriller by Mike Figgis about a young man who discovers unpleasant truths about his family after returning home to visit his estranged mother (Novak). The experience was reportedly a difficult one, due to clashes between Novak and Figgis over how to play the role, and she effectively quashed any further comebacks by retiring to her home in Oregon to raise horses and llamas. Sadly, Novak lost the residence and many valuable mementos in a fire in 2000. The actress was the subject of numerous tributes in the late 1990s and early 2000s; the theatrical revival of a restored version of "Vertigo" sparked interest in her career, while the Berlin Film Festival and Eastman Kodak gave her lifetime achievement awards in 1997 and 2000, respectively. In 2010, fans were saddened to hear the 77-year-old actress had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but were heartened to hear it was caught in its early stages and that the actress was expected to make a full recovery.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Liebestraum (1991)
The Children (1990)
Die Vollkommene Bedeutungslosigkeit der Frau fur die Musikgeschichete (Musikerinnen) (1987)
Es Hat Mich Sehr Gefreut (1987)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)
Rosa
The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
Just a Gigolo (1978)
The White Buffalo (1977)
Satan's Triangle (1975)
Eva
Tales That Witness Madness (1973)
Auriol ("Luau")
The Third Girl From the Left (1973)
The Great Bank Robbery (1969)
Lyda Kabanov
The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
Lylah Clare/Elsa Brinkmann
The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965)
Moll Flanders
Of Human Bondage (1964)
Mildred Rogers
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
Polly the Pistol
The Notorious Landlady (1962)
Carlye Hardwicke
Boys' Night Out (1962)
Cathy
Pepe (1961)
Strangers When We Meet (1960)
Margaret Gault
Bell, Book and Candle (1959)
Gillian Holroyd
Middle of the Night (1959)
Betty [Preisser]
Vertigo (1958)
Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton
Pal Joey (1957)
Linda English
Jeanne Eagels (1957)
Jeanne Eagels
The Man with the Golden Arm (1956)
Molly Novotny
The Eddy Duchin Story (1956)
Marjorie Oelrichs
5 Against the House (1955)
Kay Greylek
Picnic (1955)
Madge Owens
Son of Sinbad (1955)
Raider
Phffft (1954)
Janis
Pushover (1954)
Lona McLane
The French Line (1954)
Model

Costume-Wardrobe (Feature Film)

The Notorious Landlady (1962)
Miss Novak's gowns

Cast (Special)

Kim Novak: Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival (2013)
Herself
Rita Hayworth: Dancing Into the Dream (1991)
The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1989)
Performer

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Malibu (1983)
Billie Farnsworth

Life Events

1953

Toured the USA as 'Miss Deep Freeze' to help promote Thor refrigerators

1954

First film appearance, a bit part in the Jane Russell vehicle, "The French Line"

1954

Made TV debut on "Light's Diamond Jubilee" (a four-network celebration of the light bulb)

1954

Signed with Columbia Pictures, played first leading roles in "Pushover" and "Phfft!"

1955

Won a Golden Globe for her role as Madge Owens in "Picnic"

1955

Played Molly in "The Man with the Golden Arm," opposite Frank Sinatra

1957

Re-teamed with Sinatra for "Pal Joey"

1957

Appeared on the cover of the July issue of <i>Time</i> Magazine

1958

Starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo"

1962

Produced first film, financing her own production company in association with Filmways Productions, "Boys' Night Out"; also starred with James Garner and Tony Randall

1964

Played the vulgar waitress Mildred Rogers in a remake of W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage"

1964

Starred in Billy Wilder's "Kiss Me, Stupid" with Ray Walston and Dean Martin

1968

Returned to films after a three-year absence in Robert Aldrich's "The Legend of Lylah Clare"

1969

Played Sister Lyda Kebanov in "The Great Bank Robbery," opposite Zero Mostel, Clint Walker, and Claude Akins

1973

TV-movie debut, "The Third Girl from the Left" (ABC)

1977

Featured in the western, "The White Buffalo" with Charles Bronson

1979

Played Helga in "Just a Gigolo," opposite David Bowie

1980

Co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in "The Mirror Crack'd"

1986

Cast on the CBS primetime soap, "Falcon Crest," as mystery woman Kit Marlowe

1990

Co-starred with Ben Kingsley in the film, "The Children"

1991

Last feature to date, "Liebestraum"

1996

"Vertigo" was restored and re-released

1997

Novak was the subject of a retrospective held at the Film Forum in NYC

Photo Collections

Vertigo - Lobby Card Set (1963 reissue)
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from the 1963 reissue of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Bell, Book and Candle - Movie Posters
Bell, Book and Candle - Movie Posters
Phffft - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Columbia's Phffft (1954), starring Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Kiss Me, Stupid - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid (1965), starring Dean Martin and Kim Novak. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Notorious Landlady - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The Notorious Landlady (1962), starring Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak, and Fred Astaire. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Pal Joey - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Pal Joey (1957), starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Boys' Night Out - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills featuring the cast of Boys' Night Out (1962). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Man with the Golden Arm - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release movie posters from Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (1956), starring Frank Sinatra. The main poster design is by Saul Bass.

Videos

Movie Clip

Pal Joey (1957) - Vanessa The Undresser Kim Novak standing by to model fashion, Frank Sinatra the title character, Bobby Sherwood his pal at the piano, all invited from the club to a San Francisco society gig hosted by Rita Hayworth as Vera, in her first scene, some recalling her past, with another Rodgers and Hart tune, this one not from the Broadway musical, in Pal Joey, 1957.
Pal Joey (1957) - Open, Here's Your Ticket Director George Sidney’s opening, shot at the Berkeley, California train station, introduces Frank Sinatra (title character) followed by the first of many San Francisco location scenes, in Pal Joey, 1957, also starring Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak, from the Rodgers & Hart musical.
Pal Joey (1957) - I Could Write A Book Planning to lure hot-property performer Linda (Kim Novak) to the club he’s about to open, singer Joey (Frank Sinatra, title character) disses their current boss (Hank Henry) then works his charms with the Rodgers & Hart standard from the Broadway original, in Pal Joey, 1957.
Pal Joey (1957) - A Dog To Replace Snuffy Accidental boarding-house roommate and San Francisco night club colleague Linda (Kim Novak) tricks slippery Joey (Frank Sinatra, title character) into proving his professed love for pets, in Pal Joey, 1957, based on the Broadway musical, from stories by John O’Hara.
Legend Of Lylah Clare, The - Cameras Are Rolling All Hollywood turned out, director Zarcon (Peter Finch) unveils Elsa (Kim Novak), the dead-ringer for his dead wife, columnist Molly Luther (Coral Browne) commenting, in Robert Aldrich's The Legend Of Lylah Clare, 1968
Legend Of Lylah Clare, The - She Had Nothing To Fear Elsa (Kim Novak) hears, from "dialogue coach" Rossella (Rossella Falk), her version of the death of the star, Zarkan (Peter Finch) and Langner (Milton Selzer) standing by, in The Legend Of Lylah Clare, 1968.
Man With The Golden Arm, The (1956) - Down And Dirty Frankie (Frank Sinatra), relapsed heroin addict, having just realized he has to quit again, tries to prepare Molly (Kim Novak) for the horrors of withdrawal, in Otto Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm, 1956.
Man With The Golden Arm, The (1956) - Here's To It, Molly-O Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra, title character), reluctantly back dealing poker for a living, visits Molly (Kim Novak, her first scene), B-girl at a Chicago strip joint, after his stint in heroin re-hab, discussing her new boyfriend and his disabled wife, in Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm, 1956, from the Nelson Algren novel.
Middle Of The Night (1959) - Everybody Starts Dropping Dead Credits having navigated in through Manhattan's garment district, meeting Kim Novak as receptionist "Betty," Fredric March as boss "Jerry," Ruby Bond, Lou Gilbert and Albert Dekker his crew, Delbert Mann directing from Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay, in Middle Of The Night, 1959.
Middle Of The Night (1959) - Like It Was A Gas Chamber Widowed garment-firm boss Jerry (Fredric March) drops by the Upper East Side apartment where part-time receptionist and model Betty (Kim Novak) has just finished a typing job she brought home from work, in Middle Of The Night, 1959, from a Paddy Chayefsky screenplay.
Middle Of The Night (1959) - Really In Love Widower Manhattan apparel executive Jerry (Fredric March) not chatting but negotiating with divorced employee Betty (Kim Novak) about their romantic prospects, exactly as you'd expect in a Paddy Chayefsky script from his own play, in Middle Of The Night, 1959, directed by Delbert Mann.
Boys' Night Out (1962) - We Should Have Gone Bowling Four New York commuters, single Fred (James Garner) and married George, Doug and Howard (Tony Randall, Howard Duff, Howard Morris) lamenting that their Thursday night standing date has grown dull, William Bendix their barkeep, opening the Kim Novak comedy vehicle Boys’ Night Out, 1962.

Trailer

Pal Joey - (Original Trailer) Get a lesson in "Joey's Jargon" from Frank Sinatra himself, on the set of Pal Joey (1957).
Man With The Golden Arm, The - (Original Trailer) A junkie (Frank Sinatra) must face his true self to kick his drug addiction in Otto Preminger's groundbreaking movie, The Man With The Golden Arm (1955).
Bell Book and Candle - (Original Trailer) Beautiful witch Kim Novak places a love spell on James Stewart in the comedy Bell Book And Candle (1959) also starring Jack Lemmon.
Strangers When We Meet - (Original Trailer) A married architect (Kirk Douglas) and a neglected wife (Kim Novak) begin an affair in Strangers When We Meet (1960).
Kiss Me, Stupid - (Original Trailer) A roadside waitress (Kim Novak) is set as bait for a barely disguised Dean Martin in Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).
Notorious Landlady, The - (Original Trailer) Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak and Fred Astaire star in The Notorious Landlady (1962) about a diplomat who falls for a murder suspect.
5 Against the House - (Original Trailer) Four college buddies plot to rob a Reno casino in 5 Against the House (1955).
French Line, The -- (Original Trailer) "Jane Russell in 3-D - It'll knock both your eyes out!" was producer Howard Hughes tagline for the color musical The French Line (1954).
Vertigo - (Restored version trailer) Detective James Stewart falls for the mysterious woman he's been hired to follow in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958).
Pushover - (Original Trailer) A police detective (Fred MacMurray) falls for the bank robber's girlfriend he is supposed to be tailing in Pushover (1954) introducing Kim Novak.
Jeanne Eagels - (Original Trailer) Kim Novak stars in the true story of famed actress Jeanne Eagels (1957) who fought drug addiction to build a career and find love.
Legend of Lylah Clare, The - (Original Trailer) An obsessed movie director grooms an unknown actress to play his deceased movie-star wife in The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968), directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Kim Novak, Peter Finch and Ernest Borgnine.

Family

Joseph Novak
Father
Married with two children.
Joseph Novak
Father
Teacher, railroad worker.
Blanche Novak
Mother
Cab drivers.
Arlene Malmborg
Sister
Cab driver.
Arlene Malmborg
Sister
Fashion designer. Younger.

Companions

Ramfis Trujillo
Companion
Born August 2000.
Ramfis Trujillo
Companion
Son of Dominican dictator; briefly involved in late 1950s.
Sammy Davis Jr
Companion
Lumberman.
Sammy Davis Jr
Companion
Actor, singer.
Richard Johnson
Husband
Had two sons and a daughter with Doreen Lawrence; survived him.
Richard Johnson
Husband
Actor. Appeared with Novak in "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders;" married March 1965; divorced in 1966.
Robert Malloy
Husband
Mechanic.
Robert Malloy
Husband
Veterinarian. Born in 1940; married in 1976.

Bibliography

Notes

In December 2001, Novak's home in Oregon was robbed of more than $200,000 worth of firearms and tools. Three men were arrested and charged with burglary, theft and criminal conspiracy.

On working with Alfred Hitchcock: "I found him to be very polite. I didn't think I could ever know him, what he was really thinking, because he was not a person to show a lot of that. I like to know what someone's like. He was always masking who he was." --to the San Francisco Examiner, October 19, 1996.

"I don't feel I was a Hollywood-created star. Harry Cohn did not make me. But I also feel that I probably didn't make me, either. I think it was a combination. I think that's what made it work. ... I've always had a hard time when they say 'this manufactured star.' God, if they knew how much I tried not to be!" --Kim Novak to Tom Shales of The Washington Post, October 14, 1996.

"He always called me 'the dumb, fat Polack.' What a guy." --Kim Novak on Columbia head Harry Cohn, quoted in USA Today, October 1, 1996.

"I kept getting put into things where they just wanted me to stand there and look pretty and 'don't think, for God's sake.' I could tell from fan mail that audiences understood what I was trying to do and that they appreciated me. That was the only thing that kept me coming back." --Kim Novak, quoted in Interview, November 1996.

"Everything I learned about film acting I learned working on films. I had no chance to practice. And because I was there being seen, I was suddenly a star, and it was sort of inhibiting. ... I always had a keen imagination, so I was able to put myself into these roles, and it was always hard for me to leave them behind. I took them all home. It wasn't always a good thing, but I couldn't help it." --Kim Novak, quoted in Interview, November 1996.

According to director Richard Quine, who helmed several of Novak's films, her appeal partly rested in having the "proverbial quality of the lady in the parlor and the whore in the bedroom".