KIM NOVAK Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Marilyn Pauline Novak                                                                 
Born: 13 February 1933 Chicago, Illinois                                                   
Kim Novak (born February 13, 1933) is an American actress who was one of America's         
most popular movie stars in the late 1950s. She is perhaps best known for her               
performance in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958).                                           
Novak was born Marilyn Pauline Novak in Chicago, Illinois, a Roman Catholic of             
Czech extraction. Her father was a railroad clerk and former teacher; her mother           
also was a former teacher, and Novak has a sister. While in grammar school, Kim             
won a scholarship to the famed Chicago Art Institute.                                       
After graduating from high school, she began her career modeling teen fashions             
for a local department store. She later received a scholarship at a modeling               
school and continued to model part time. She also worked as an elevator operator,           
a sales clerk, and a dental assistant. After a job touring the country as a                 
spokesman for a refrigerator manufacturer, "Miss Deepfreeze," Novak moved to Los           
Angeles, where she continued modeling.                                                     
She then appeared as a model standing on a stairway in the RKO 3-D motion                   
picture The French Line (1954) starring Jane Russell and Gilbert Roland. Novak             
received no screen credit. Eventually, she was seen by a Columbia Pictures                 
talent agent and filmed a screen test. Studio chief Harry Cohn was searching for           
another beauty to replace the rebellious and difficult Rita Hayworth. Novak was             
signed to a six-month contract.                                                             
Columbia decided to make the blonde, buxom actress its version of Marilyn Monroe.           
Immediately, there was the issue of what to do about her name. Neither Novak nor           
Columbia wanted to be seen as cashing in on Marilyn Monroe's enormous popularity,           
so Novak's real first name had to go. She resisted changing it to Kit Marlowe.             
She and the studio finally settled on the stage name Kim Novak. Cohn told her to           
lose weight, and he won the battle to make her wear brassieres. She took acting             
lessons, which she had to pay for herself.                                                 
Novak debuted as Lona McLane in Pushover (1954) opposite Fred MacMurray and                 
Philip Carey. Though her role was not the best, her beauty caught the attention             
of fans and critics alike. She then played the femme fatale role as Janis in               
Phffft! (1954) opposite Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, and Jack Carson. Novak's               
reviews were good. People were eager to see the new star, and she received an               
enormous amount of fan mail.                                                               
After playing Madge Owens in Picnic (1955) opposite William Holden, Novak won a             
Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer and for World Film Favorite. She was               
also nominated for the British BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actress. She               
played Molly in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) opposite Frank Sinatra and               
Eleanor Parker on loan-out to United Artists. The movie was a big hit. She was             
paired with Sinatra again in Pal Joey (1957), which also starred Rita Hayworth.             
Her popularity became such that she made the cover of the July 29, 1957, issue             
of Time Magazine. That same year, she went on strike, protesting her salary of $1,250       
per week.                                                                                   
In 1958, Novak appeared in a dual role in Hitchcock's classic thriller Vertigo             
opposite James Stewart. She played the dual roles of the elegant, troubled,                 
wealthy blonde Madeleine Elster and the earthy shop girl brunette, Judy Barton.             
Today, the film is often considered a masterpiece of romantic suspense, and                 
Novak's turn is possibly the best-known and most admired of her career. Still,             
Hitchcock, rarely one to praise actors, dismissed Novak in a later interview. "You         
think you're getting a lot," he said of her ability, "but you're not."                     
She followed Vertigo with her role as Gillian Holroyd in Bell, Book and Candle (1958)       
opposite James Stewart and Jack Lemmon, a comedy tale of modern-day witchcraft             
that did not do well at the box-office. In 1960 she co-starred with Kirk Douglas           
in the critically acclaimed Strangers When We Meet with Walter Matthau and Ernie           
Although some believe that by the early 1960s, Novak's career had begun to slide,           
in fact she refused to accept many of the sexpot, glamor girl roles she was                 
offered. Yet, during the same decade, she also turned down several strong roles             
including Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Hustler, Days of Wine and Roses, and The             
Sandpiper. Novak was paired with Jack Lemmon for the third and final time in the           
mystery comedy, The Notorious Landlady in 1962. She also played the vulgar                 
waitress Mildred Rogers in a remake of Somerset Maugham's drama Of Human Bondage           
(1964) opposite Laurence Harvey and Robert Morley. She showed a cunning sense of           
humor in Billy Wilder's cult classic Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) opposite Dean Martin,           
though the film was critically panned.                                                     
After playing the title role in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965)             
opposite Richard Johnson and Angela Lansbury, with George Sanders and Lilli                 
Palmer, Novak took a break from acting, seeing as little of Hollywood as                   
Novak made a comeback in a dual role as a young actress, Elsa Brinkmann, and an             
early-day movie goddess who was murdered, Lylah Clare, in producer-director                 
Robert Aldrich's The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) opposite Oscar winners Peter             
Finch and Ernest Borgnine for MGM. It failed miserably.                                     
After playing a forger, Sister Lyda Kebanov, in The Great Bank Robbery (1969)               
opposite Zero Mostel, Clint Walker, and Claude Akins, she stayed away from the             
screen for four years. She then played the key role of Auriol Pageant in the               
horror anthology film Tales That Witness Madness (1973). In 1979, she played               
Helga in Just a Gigolo starring David Bowie. She played Lola Brewster in Agatha             
Christie's mystery/thriller The Mirror Crack'd (1980) opposite Angela Lansbury,             
Geraldine Chaplin, Tony Curtis, Edward Fox, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor.             
In the film, Novak and Taylor portray rival actresses.                                     
Her last appearance on the big screen was as Lillian Anderson Munnsen in the               
mystery/thriller Liebestraum (1991) for MGM, however her scenes were cut from               
the movie due to her battles with the director over how to play the role. In a             
July 2005 interview with Movieline's Hollywood Life, Novak admitted that she had           
been "unprofessional" in her conduct with director Mike Figgis. Since that time,           
she has turned down many other chances to appear in film and on television.