She was groomed for stardom and she achieved stardom! From Chicago, the daughter of Czech immigrants, Marilyn Novak refused to let Columbia change her last name.
Marilyn Pauline Novak, born in Chicago 88 years ago, is rightfully cited as among the most fetching screen actresses Hollywood ever produced.
She has been compared to a Greek goddess. She made the Fifties scandal sheets pop with stories about her verboten Fifties romance with a popular black entertainer. Onscreen, she unforgettably mystified a spellbound (pun intended) James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958’s classic, Vertigo.
Those who might be tempted to downplay Kim Novak’s acting ability should not forget that the highly respected British movie journal Sight & Sound (which has been polling international critics and directors every 10 years since 1952, asking them to identify the best movie of all time) in 2012 put Vertigo at the top of the list.
Could there have been a Vertigo without Kim Novak?
How much do you know about this genuine screen phenomenon who for decades has remained by choice largely out of the public spotlight? Try our Monday Quiz to find out. We are inspired here by a number of sources including the July 2011 issue of Vanity Fair and a rare 1962 gem from Joe’s library, Charles E. Fritch’s Kim Novak: Goddess of Love. (Answers tomorrow.)
1) Question: When a slightly overweight Kim Novak was first discovered by a studio casting agent, what was she doing? a) Posing for a nude calendar; b) Auditioning for a role in a low budget action movie; c) Touring the country as “Miss Deepfreeze”; or d) Shopping at a local department store.
2) Question: Novak was groomed by which studio to take the place of a glamorous screen beauty. Can you name the studio and the star she superceded? a) Columbia Pictures, Rita Hayworth; b) MGM, Joan Crawford; c) 20th Century Fox, Alice Fay; or d) Samuel Goldwyn Studios, Barbara Nichols.
3) Question: The number 13 has always been very special to Novak. Why? a) Despite its unlucky association, the number won her thousands in a Las Vegas craps game; b) She was born on Feb. 13 at 3:13 a.m. in hospital room 313; c) She currently “mothers” 13 animals at her Oregon farm; or d) Her career as a Hollywood actress fulfilled a dream harbored since age 13.
4) Question: Although generally publicity shy in recent years, Novak caused quite a stir when she showed up at this year’s Oscar telecast. What happened? a) Nothing. Novak accompanied by actor Matthew McConaughey graciouslypresented an animation award; b) She shocked viewers by the obvious effects of her multiple face lifts; c) She walked unsteadily and nearly fell into the orchestra pit; or d) She passed unflattering remarks about formality of the Academy Awards ceremony.
5) Question: Confidental magazine in the late Fifties plastered Kim all over the headlines because of her affair with which one of the following? a) Herb Jeffries; b) Nat King Cole; c) Sidney Poitier; or d) Sammy Davis Jr.
6) Question: Kim Novak was at one time Hollywood’s No. 1 box office star. a) True; or b) False?
7) Question: Novak was not Alfred Hitchcock’s first choice for the dual roles of Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton in Vertigo. Who was? a) Tippi Hedren; b) Vera Miles; c) Grace Kelly or d) Jayne Mansfield.
8) Question: Novak was romantically linked to many men, including Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra, but her affair with one particular Hollywood director was considered serious. Can you name him? a) Otto Preminger (The Man With The Golden Arm), b) Hitchcock; c) Richard Quine (Bell, Book And Candle); or d) Delbert Mann (Middle of the Night).
9) Question: Novak and Rita Hayworth, costars of 1957’s Pal Joey, bonded instantly when they were first introduced, and became lifelong friends. a) True; or b) False?
10) Question: In Novak’s very first movie in 1954 was a musical romance starring a reigning Hollywood sexpot at the time. Can you name her? a) Jane Russell; b) Mamie Van Doren; c) Marilyn Monroe; or d) Diana Dors.