Real name: Marilyn Pauline Novak
Birthdate: February 13, 1933
Partner: Dr. Robert Malloy
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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.
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 and buxom actress their version of Marilyn Monroe. She was still using the name Marilyn Novak, and they wanted to change it to Kit Marlowe. She wanted to keep her surname, however, and resisted pressure to change it. She and the studio finally settled on the stage name Kim Novak.
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. More people were eager to see the new star, and she received an enormous amount of fan mail. She went on to appear in a number of successful movies.William Holden and Kim Novak in Picnic
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 opposite Sinatra again in Pal Joey (1957), which also starred Rita Hayworth.
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.
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.
Her home in Eagle Point, Oregon, was destroyed in a fire on July 24, 2000. A deputy fire marshal said the blaze was probably caused by a tree falling across a power line. Among Novak's lost mementos were scripts of some of her most critically acclaimed movies, including Vertigo and Picnic. The only existing draft of the actress's autobiography was also lost to the fire.