Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Kim Novak
Birthdate: February 13, 1933
Famous Years: 1954-Present
Currently Known For: Retired Actress
|Networth: $15 Million||Famous For: The Man with the Golden Arm, Picnic, Falcon Crest|
February 13, 1933
The Man with the Golden Arm, Picnic, Falcon Crest
Not many actors or actresses can say they’ve walked away from stardom on their own terms, but Kim Novak is one of them. She might not be too recognizable from the days in which she was a star, but Novak has enjoyed a fruitful career that started back in the 1950s. You likely know her best from her collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart in the thriller “Vertigo”, but there are plenty of other memorable movies that she’s taken part in, as well.
Novak was born on February 13, 1933 in Chicago to a middle class family that did a decent job of making ends meet during the Depression era. Novak had excelled as a student in high school and would go to junior college after graduation. Novak showed potential as an actress early on, and attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with hopes of becoming a star. However, at first, she would find more work as a model where she received her first national exposure and was discovered almost completely by accident.
Novak simply wanted to be an extra in films for RKO Studios, and was waiting in line with a couple of other models on set. That’s when an agent approached her and said that she should be in more prominent roles, and signed her up for a contract with rival Columbia Pictures. In 1954, Novak would make her film debut by appearing in “Pushover”, and would follow it up with several films over the next couple of years that would find varying degrees of success. By the later part of the decade, Novak had a consistent string of success and her biggest break was still awaiting.
In 1958, legendary director Alfred Hitchcock was working on the film “Vertigo”, with the leading actress role already having gone to Vera Miles. However, Miles became pregnant before filming, leading Hitchcock to recast the role. Without even bringing her in for an audition, Hitchcock decided that Novak would be the ideal fit for the role, and she signed on right away.
The film ended up being a flop at the time, but over history has become one of Hitchcock’s more popular films, while also showcasing Novak’s acting talent. Novak had sensed that she’d be perfect for the part right away. “I identify so very completely with the role because it was exactly what Harry Cohn and what Hollywood was trying to do to me, which was to make me over into something I was not,” she said. “In the beginning, they hire you because of the way you look, and yet they try to change your lips, your mouth, your hair, every aspect of the way you look and the way you talk and the way you dress.”
Despite having success to that point as an actress, Novak’s career would slow down significantly in the subsequent decade, as she wasn’t receiving the prominent box office roles that she once had. By the time the 1960s came to an end, Novak had started to grow weary of trying to find performances, and took a bit of a break. Eventually, Novak would become completely fed up with Hollywood.
Even many actors and actresses that have said that they’re retiring from acting have still made the occasional return here or there. For Novak, however, she’s stayed true to her word after the release of “Liebestraum” in 1991 with director Mike Figgis. As soon as the movie started filming, Novak and Figgis were at odds as they had creative differences. Novak would call the experience the worst in her acting career, and decided to just walk away from acting altogether.
“I got so burned out on that picture that I wanted to leave the business,” she said. “But then if you wait long enough, you think, ‘Oh, I miss certain things.’ The making of a movie is wonderful. What’s difficult is afterward when you have to go around and try to sell it. The actual filming, when you have a good script - which isn’t often - nothing beats it.”
Since walking away, Novak has made some public appearances, but hasn’t acted again at age 85. Her life has been more focused on creating art, which is a lot more calm than being on a movie set or doing interviews. However, Novak does say that she has some regrets about leaving Hollywood for good.
“I feel my life is complete because of my art, my painting,” she said.”But, by the same token, I think I owed my fans more than I gave the. Perhaps I cheated the people who appreciated me and supported me by not sharing more of myself...I guess the sad part of me is that the longer I’ve been out of the business, the better prepared I am to be an actress. I have been so fully living my life, learning the lessons of life, and growing so much as a person and as an artist that I would be a much better actress now. But I did what I did. I thought I was doing it the right way.”
Novak says she wouldn’t do anything differently, though. “I never intended to be an actress. I never dreamed of it, never even thought about it,” she said. “I became one because I was discovered. It literally just happened, as if by magic.”