The art of Kim Novak: The star of such classics as Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” and “Picnic” turned her back on Hollywood in the 1960s, exchanging a movie studio for an artist’s studio – Google Alerts

On exhibit at a recent art show in Youngstown, Ohio: an interpretation of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film “Vertigo,” which starred Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. The artist?  None other than Kim Novak.

In the 1950s and early ’60s Novak was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. She’s most famous for “Vertigo,” about the obsession of a retired police detective with a mysterious blonde named Madeleine, and his attempts to remake a brunette named Judy into Madeleine.

Judy: “If I let you change me, will that do it? If I do what you tell me, will you love me?”
Scottie:  “Yes. Yes.”

Both women were played by Novak.

Correspondent Mo Rocca asked, “Was it a challenging role, or I should say roles, for you?”

“Well, you know, the wonderful thing about Alfred Hitchcock is, in one way, he is obsessed with changing you in the physical sense of the character has to be exactly the way,” Novak said. “But he allows you total freedom in the way you play the part.”

James Stewart and Kim Novak in Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller “Vertigo” (1958). 

Paramount Pictures

But freedom doesn’t exactly describe the studio system that controlled Hollywood in the 1950s. When Harry Cohn, the head Columbia Pictures, put a then-21-year-old Marilyn Pauline Novak under contract, he intended to make her over, starting with her name. “He wanted me to be Kit Marlowe,” Novak said. “You see, they made up their mind behind my back – ‘We all decided your name is going to be Kit Marlowe.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to be Kit Marlow, how can I be Kit Marlow? I understand I won’t be Marilyn, but I will not be Kit Marlow.'”

Novak’s upbringing in Chicago seemed to have prepared her well for standing up to the man Time magazine once called a “Hollywood despot.” “Harry Cohn was frightening; my father was frightening. They had that in common,” Novak said.”

An undated photo of actress Kim Novak.

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