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Tribute to Kim Novak
She was born Marilyn, but Harry Cohn, the boss of Columbia Studios, saw her as a potential successor of her famous namesake, Marilyn Monroe. Cohn also wanted to get rid of her surname and turn model Marilyn Pauline Novak into an American diva, Kit Marlowe. However, the new actress was proud of her name and her Czech origin, and didn't want to become yet another short-lived cliché. Thus, a compromise was born, one that drove viewers of both sexes crazy in the 1950s, Kim Novak.
When the young actress was photographed by a photographer of the prestigious Life magazine in 1956, a single dreamy look with a trace of slight worry showed Kim's hidden wonders. It spoke of a pretty obvious acting talent, but also of a real worry about her own future in show business. Yet the hint of the real, sincere and spontaneous expression made her more than just an idol during her short yet intense career. She was a true actress.
Her best performances always combined contradictory expressions: cold detachment transformed into cordiality brimming with emotions in the blink of an eye. The first important film in her career was Picnic (1955) where she starred with William Holden. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe and more films followed, with Kim appearing side by side with the greatest male icons of the decade. Twice, she ruled the silver screen opposite Frank Sinatra, yet it was her collaboration with actor James Stewart, along with her work for the king of film suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, that became truly essential for her path to stardom.
Although she starred in the famous Vertigo only as a substitute for Vera Miles, who got pregnant, Hitchcock trusted her so much that he offered her the leading role without casting or screen tests. Novak truly identified with her role since like the protagonist, Judy, she always fought hard in Hollywood to remain herself. Even though Vertigo was not met with enthusiasm, it has matured with age and is now considered to be one of Hitchcock's best films and Kim Novak's performance belongs alongside the most memorable performances of all times. In the same year, Kim starred alongside James Stewart once again, this time in a romantic comedy, Bell, Book and Candle, and she appeared in Middle of the Night, a film that was became her favourite of all her roles, just a year later. Her distinctive films from the 1960s include a relationship drama, Strangers When We Meet, where Novak played Kirk Douglas' neighbour and utilised her sex appeal in the role of a femme fatale who charmingly weaves love webs. Soon afterwards, a neighbour turned into The Notorious Landlady, once again charming and this time bewitching Jack Lemmon. In this mystery comedy, Novak managed to employ not only charm, but also the darker sides of her acting.
In the mid-1960s, she appeared in a romantic comedy based on Daniel Defoe's novel, The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders, directed by James Bond director, Terrence Young. Although her career later slowed down and she appeared on screen only sporadically, a single decade was more than enough for her to be considered one of the great actresses of all time. The star status in Hollywood is often based on that special magic of a face that cannot be copied and which maybe even is not that related to talent, and Kim Novak certainly was such a star, a unique personification of a distinctive type. Yet in a short time, she was able to prove that with the remarkable face came an obvious talent.
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