Monday, March 03, 2014

Let's Talk About Kim Novak



She was born Marilyn Novak in Chicago in 1933, and she always said she never wanted to be an actress, much less a star. She came to California as “Miss Deep Freeze,” demonstrating appliances on a sales tour. She said, “I could open a refrigerator door gracefully, that was it, period. I could see where a lot of time might go by before any movie studio would want a girl to open an icebox.”

Turned out that the legendary Harry Cohn of Columbia did want Marilyn — albeit because Rita Hayworth’s career was on the slide and the way Cohn saw it, he needed another sex symbol. At first he wasn’t sure he could make anything of Novak. The card at the modeling agency where the 20-year-old was working said: “Hands, marginal; legs, hefty; neck and face, flawless.”

Cohn put Novak on a stringent diet, all the while calling her “that fat Polack” (Novak’s background is Czech) behind her back. She followed an exercise regime. She was assigned a make-up artist. Her teeth were capped. Her hair was dyed blonde, then rinsed to make it gleam lavender in the light.

Her name was changed, since in the 1950s Marilyn was what you might call already taken. Cohn wanted “Kit” but Novak figured something so close to “kitten” was already stereotyping her, and she suggested Kim. She insisted on keeping her last name, which Cohn thought too ethnic.

“I made you, I can break you,” was Cohn’s refrain to Novak and many another actor. She was a naturally shy, insecure woman and Cohn liked it that way. He’d call Novak into his office and read her every bad review she got. And she got plenty; Novak was never a darling of the press. If she tried something dramatic, she was wooden. If she did a sexy role, she was too heavy, too dumb. When she went to the Oscars one year and posed on the red carpet, one columnist sniped that Novak was “aping Marilyn’s every move.”

Where there was an especially cruel phrase in an article, Cohn would read it to Kim an extra time or two, for emphasis.

Novak, according to Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair in The Bad and the Beautiful, “became obsessed with having her hair and makeup perfect before she could begin working, worried that she couldn’t live up to the media’s portrayal of her as a sex goddess.”

Which brings us to last night's Oscars.

As we age, the fat that plumps the skin and makes it glow inexorably begins to disintegrate. Because this is 2014, and we’re on our way to curing women of the worst thing that can happen to them— getting old — doctors can solve this terrible problem with injectable fillers.

So let’s say — just as a hypothetical for-instance — you are an 81-year-old star whose last movie was in 1991 and who hasn’t been to the Oscars in many a long year. Not that you were ever nominated for one in the first place; you were, after all, a sex symbol for most of your career. As the evening approaches, the anxiety sets in. Harsh lights, you think. High-definition cameras. And a public that remembers you chiefly as the ice goddess whose beauty once drove James Stewart to the brink of madness.

And even back then, when you were 25 years old, you worried constantly that no matter how you looked, it wasn’t good enough.

So a few weeks before the ceremony, you go to a doctor, and he says, “Relax honey. I have just the thing to make you fresh and dewy for the cameras.”

And you go to the Oscars, so nervous you clutch your fellow presenter’s hand. And the next day, you wake up to a bunch of cheap goddamn shots about your face.

Nice system we got here, isn’t it.

No wonder Kim Novak, like Tippi Hedren, Doris Day and Brigitte Bardot, has long said she’d much rather spend her time with animals.



(Background material on Novak is from The Bad and the Beautiful. Recommended.)

151 comments:

Someone Said said...

Yes. Exactly. Thank you.

Paul Dionne said...

Ah, thank you Siren - in just about every role she played was always that "wounded" quality; I can imagine the guts it takes to show up at 81, for that Oscar ceremony, and the guts because there is really no choice in the matter for someone like Kim Novak, because she is still alive.

Marilyn said...

"Bill's thirty-two. He looks thirty-two. He looked it five years ago, he'll look it twenty years from now. I hate men."

DeboT said...
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misospecial said...

Thank you so much for this. I've seen at least a dozen comments on snarky threads saying the tried-and-true "Why can't she age gracefully?" They point to the divine Lansbury as example. I suggested that we consider what the industry does to women—most obviously to those who are valued almost exclusively for their beauty—and ponder that for a moment. One said that she obviously was deranged and thought she looked great, when it seems a great deal more likely that she's a pro and wasn't going to lose her last shot at appearing at this gathering. One of her most prominent qualities as an actress was that wounded quality—she's the beauty who chafes and writhes in it ("Madge is the pretty one!"), and that deep discomfort is key to her work in Picnic and Vertigo. Bless her; I'm ashamed that all these years after Cohn ground the insults in like putting out a cigarette on her, we're still mortifying her.

DeboT said...

Thank you for that great article Siren. It makes me want to keep an eye out for Novak films now. I can't believe people took such cheap shots at her. Well, unfortunately, yes I can believe it. I loved her in Picnic and Bell, Book and Candle is a childhood favorite. It took me awhile to appreciate her in Vertigo, but now can't imagine anyone else in the role.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Thanks Siren. I adore Kim in more ways that I can name.

These award shows have turned into mass "shaming" spectacles right out of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." Earlier this season Jackie Bissett was attacked -- simply because she was winded by the time she got to the stage at the Golden Globes. They put her table somewhere near Banning.

Both are great women deserving of respect.

La Faustin said...

Just hook your trailer up to that $495 car and get hell out of that hick town, Polly. Bang-bang!

VP81955 said...

Much of the same vitriol, albeit to a lesser degree, was directed from the blogosphere to Goldie Hawn last night (although Goldie is a mere 68 and, unlike Novak, owns an Oscar and was nominated for another one). I had no qualm with the appearance of either one; whether Hawn may have gone a bit overboard with plastic surgery is up for you to decide, but she still has that megawatt smile and has proven her expertise as a businesswoman and supporter of social causes (she appeared at the Davos summit earlier this year). Kudos to Goldie and Kim, both of whom stand far taller than their silly critics.

Cloveradams said...

Thanks, Siren, for that typically excellent piece. I've always though David Thomson's take on Novak was one of his best pieces in the Biographical Dictionary: “But film sometimes flinches at the expertise of actresses, and the sympathetic viewer may come to realize that there was a mute honesty in Novak: she did not conceal the fact that she had been drawn into a world capable of exploiting her. Filming seemed an ordeal for her; it was as if the camera hurt her. But while many hostile to the movies rose in defense of the devastation of Marilyn Monroe—whether or not she was a sentient victim—Novak was stoical, obdurate, or sullen. She allowed very few barriers between that raw self and the audience and now looks dignified, reflective, and responsive to feeling where Monroe appears haphazard and oblivious. Novak is the epitome of every small-town waitress or beauty contest winner who thought of being in the movies. Despite a thorough attempt by Columbia to glamorize her, she never lost the desperate attentiveness of someone out of her depth but refusing to give in. Her performances improve with time so that ordinary films come to center on her; even Vertigo, Hitchcock’s masterpiece, owes some of its power to Novak’s harrowing suspension between tranquillity and anxiety.”

CarolMR said...

I remember seeing Kim interviewed by Robert Osborne last year. I learned a lot about her that I never knew before. I think she looked great, much the same way she looked last night (from the online pictures I've seen). She told Osborne she had a very unhappy childhood. Her parents were not in love and they did not get along. Her dad had some psychological problems. But her parents stayed together because they were Catholic and wouldn't divorce. It all sounded so sad, yet Kim didn't have a self-pitying note in her voice. I remember feeling very close to her after that interview. And Osborne had an audience there who were SO appreciative of Kim, unlike, apparently, last night.

testingwithfire said...

Novak has been a favorite of mine for many years.

I "watched" the Oscars this year by following the live chat over at the Dissolve; I don't have cable any more and no HDTV antenna (yet) so I didn't watch the actual broadcast. This made for some fun educated guesses on my part as to the actual goings-on. The Dissolve chat, even for a lurker, was just about the ideal Oscar-watching party.

Was the snark coming from the actual broadcast or (more predictably) the Twitterverse? Apparently the womanhood was way too much for Twitter last night, or so I hear...!

The Siren said...

Thanks guys, so much. I have been simmering for years now over the hateful mockery of actresses and how they cope with aging. If they got naturally old and abandon diets, like June Squibb, they're "letting themselves go." If they work too hard at staying beautiful, like Goldie Hawn and Kim Novak, they're silly cows who can't perceive how ridiculous they look. ENOUGH. I've had it to my back molars with this shit. It's an industry where looks matter, and that's never gonna change. Not just because of sexism, but because humans will always love to look at a beautiful person. But can't we give people--WOMEN--a break once they pass, oh, say, 80???

Plus, like you all, I adore Kim Novak. As several of you have pointed out, she had a lot of rough breaks, and has forged a contented life away from Hollywood. And she comes back to grace us with her presence; smiles tentatively at the audience and says, "I'm so happy to be here." And this is how she's treated?

I will say that I have curated my FB and Twitter pretty well, because I didn't see a single mean remark from anybody I interact with (and there was never any question a regular commenter here would say anything horrid). The Siren applauds; y'all know how to treat a legend.

skippy said...

i personally unfollowed someone - purportedly in showbiz herself, so she should have known better - for making mean remarks about kim (and for refusing to reconsider when i tweeted how kim was a legend, a great actress, and very possibly recovering from a stroke of some sort, as it looked to me).

more to the point, twitter search "poitier" and then search "kim novak" - and then weep silently at the misogyny...

Greg F. said...

I was assigned to cover the interview Robert Osborne did with her at the TCM festival last year and was smitten. She is such a disarmingly gentle, kind person.

I wrote, "If you're looking for mudslinging from Kim Novak, you've come to the wrong place. Even for the infamous Harry Cohn, Novak has nothing but praise. She tells Osborne that Cohn felt awkward being nice to people only because he felt it would diminish his authority and when she brought him fudge one year during the holidays, he was speechless but clearly moved."

Take that into account after reading what's posted about what Cohn did to her and you can see just what an amazing, forgiving and kind woman she is. I wasn't aware people were making unkind comments about her after the Oscars but now that I am, I find it abominable. I hope she's as ignorant of it as I was.

Elizabeth said...

I thought that she just appeared incredibly nervous. I don't think she has done many public appearances since she moved up north to live with her husband. I think it had to have been incredibly stressful for her to be back in the spotlight. Kudos to Matthew McConaughey for being so gracious and lovely to her.

The Siren said...

Greg, it's true, Novak has always emphasized what Cohn did for her career, in terms of giving her good roles. She's an accentuate-the-positive kind of person. Which has probably helped her survival immensely. Comrade Lou Lumenick interviewed her a couple of years ago and she melted his tough tabloid heart into one big smitten puddle too.

The Siren said...

Elizabeth, almost every time I've seen Novak give an appearance (and she'd been giving few interviews for a long while up until the Vertigo anniversary) she seems nervous, often shaking. I believe she's said she suffers from anxiety, also bipolar disorder and she's also a cancer survivor. The TCM appearance, which you can see bits of online, is about as relaxed as I've ever seen her doing anything live. Of course that's not a billion people; it was an adoring crowd at the TCM festival.

Pinko Punko said...

Really quite depressed about how that turned out. I loved hearing her voice.

SilverBlueSnow said...

Hello Siren! I came across your tweet on Kim Novak and read your piece about her treatment post-Oscars.

Most people go through their lives taking the safe options - never pushing themselves professionally or personally. And yet they are so critical of others - they never compliment they only put-down!

Kim Novak had the courage to pursue a movie career - imagine how difficult it must be for a woman in her early twenties - furthermore, it is written that (like so many of us) she was a "sensitive" human being. Despite these very great challenges she managed to work at the highest level. She was brave enough to work with Hitchcock in a very challenging role and she gave us one of the screen's most intriguing performances.

What emerges is a very courageous and talented woman.

It is very sad to see how she is criticised after appearing at the Oscars. It highlights how utterly bereft the media are of real stories that this is reported on. Let us raise our voices to say that this is not what we want to see reported on. And furthermore we demand a more respectful tone from the media.

It saddens me how much pressure is laid on women concerning their appearance. Women present themselves much better than men do - both in their physical appearance and their demeanour.

Just for the record - I am a man!

rudyfan1926 said...

Like others, her interview with Robert Osborne was very revealing. I've always loved her in Vertigo, Bell Book and Candle and Picnic. I have yet to see Kiss Me Stupid. She seems to be such a kind soul and I LOVE, tell you LOVE her artwork. She's a survivor and agree she should be treated with respect. When Vertigo was first restored, I saw the San Francisco premiere at the Castro where she came and was nothing but gracious and was so well received by a raucous and truly appreciative crowd. Podesta Baldocci even recreated the famous bouquet and it was presented to her on stage. A lovely memory. Wish I could have met her that night, but it was a CRUSH. Thanks Siren for being crabby, well put!

Lemora said...

Siren, the only Kim Novak medical problem I've ever read about is her cancer. I have adored her since seeing her in Bell, Book And Candle in 1958, even though Jimmy Stewart could be her great grandfather, but never mind. Years ago, I bought an Irish Kinsale cloak because it was identical to the one she wears walking home from the Zodiac Club. I still wear the cloak. I want her BB&C wardrobe, just like I want Norma Shearer's in A Free Soul. (I hated then, and still hate the ending of BB&C.) Novak's characters got the full 1950's treatment of women, in virtually every film she made: Give up your powers so you can get married and blah, blah effing blah. I still have a Life photo of Kim in her sunken bath tub in Big Sur, with the Pacific Ocean in the distance. In about 1966, she moved there and walked away from it all. I first learned about Big Sur and began to explore it because of her. Kim Novak rocks! And, she's a Cat Person!

writewrds said...

Bravo!

A Pleasant House said...

I totally agree. It wasn't her 'face' that concerned me- it was her seemingly confused delivery. Yikes.

Karen said...

You're a good, good person, Siren.

Jason said...

As the father to a young daughter I fear the day she grows aware of society's standards of beauty (standards which I openly abhor and reject). Thanks for this -- a meaningful piece of writing that may help us all to become more compassionate, less judgmental people.

kelly said...

What a great piece! Interesting, and sobering. It reminds me of the piece Ashley Judd wrote for The Daily Beast in 2012: " It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public."

Reading that was a lightbulb moment to me; it is not appropriate to criticize a woman's appearance - ever.

KJ Wojciechowski said...

What an eloquent summation of my many thoughts and feelings. Will be saving this one. Good work.

Miss Caswell said...

Lady, between this and the Gigi writeup below it, you just won yourself a new reader. Way to go.

The Siren said...

Miss Caswell, any graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art is most welcome chez Siren. :)

Natasha Moya said...

Let's take a look back at Kim Novak in the Fabulous ’50s, when she was beginning her career as a 21-year-old ingénue.
http://doyouremember.com/kim-novak-sex-siren/

Natasha Moya said...
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Cloveradams said...

Thanks, Natasha - that Picnic scene is still, nearly 60 years later, one of the most erotic encounters on film.

Cloveradams said...
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DaVette See said...

Thanks for this. I cried reading it aloud to my husband. I had just published a Facebook post (that might lose me a few friends) that echoed your words exactly.

Monique D said...

I think I'll watch Kiss Me Stupid again tonight. Not a great movie, as I recall, but I remember loving Kim Novak's performance because she plays a character part. It seemed quite different from anything else she'd done, and she was genuinely funny.

Glenn Meche said...

I remember an interview with Kim Novak at the time of Marilyn Monroe's death. In it, she remarked that a female in Hollywood was looked at as nothing but a piece of meat. I was a child, but I still remember her saying that. You mean to tell me nothing has changed in 52 years?

DAY TO DAY MIRACLES AND OTHER THOUGHTS said...

OK, well, we could all be kinder it's true, but the sadness of seeing the empty vessel Kim Novak appeared to be was painful. Humor is one way we deal with pain. Clearly she has had too much facial surgery and clearly, she was not rehearsed and present enough to represent the Lustrous actress of PICNIC with William Holden that had us never forget her. Her agent, her publisher, her best friend should have done everything they could to have her dignity at 81 be what we all could see.

Carolyn Roesbery said...

good article! It was a treat to see her and I don't compare her to her youth. I will always remember hearing how she and Sammy Davis Jr were in love and how courageous and also dangerous that was in those days. I didn't know Harry Cohn could afford to treat his actors that horribly. What a jerk.

The Siren said...

Day to Day Miracles, welcome. I wrote this very quickly in a white-hot fury, utterly unaware that I was going to have so many new eyeballs on it. Otherwise, I would definitely have directed people to Novak's fine film work. (This is a place devoted to that whole era so my usual crowd doesn't need the prod, and indeed might say "Of COURSE I'm watching her movies, Siren you goof.") Anyway, one thing I'd have added is that she almost always seems shy and nervous when making live appearances, as opposed to in front of a camera where it's colleagues. I am not sure anything could have assuaged that in front of a billion people. But I do think the Academy erred in not showing some clips, at least. That would have reminded the audience they were in the presence of a goddess.

Chereena said...

I thought she looked fantastic.

john brown said...

Well said. Kim Novak has always been stunningly beautiful as far as I am concerned.

Michele Bowes said...

Extremely well written article.

Obviously Kim was thrown to the wolves long before last evening. Last evening, and more importantly, this mornings catty reviews of Kim were just one more example of the American way of admonishing our woman celebrities for being less than stereotype. What kind of society berates an 81-year old actress about her facial structure?

Personally, I applaud Ms. Novak. I wish she had better prepared and less fragile. Imagine having every lousy review read to you by a studio head! How do you imagine you might look from all that negative force being thrown at you? You'd look like Kim Novak last evening.

JD5 said...

Watch her in The Man With the Golden Arm - completely believable, heartbreaking and heartwarming. also (I think it's called) Middle of the Night w/Frederic March - just splendid!!

Kym Zmail said...

It has become that we women can be vilified if we fight aging, and if we dont.. I am so saddened by the "mean girl Or should I add, mean boy" attitude. I have to just keep reminding myself that people who fall to this level of meanness are only trying to rise themselves out of their own self doubt and possibly self loathing.. why else does one throw hatred towards someone they know nothing about? I hate to think it brings pleasure

Kaye Barley said...

Thank you for this

Citizen Screen said...

Being repetitious and thanking you for this. As much as many of us complain about how the media portrays women, how "they" set a standard that hurts us all, we are very quick to jump on the bandwagon and become the beast. It's a good thing to be reminded that the reflection the media throws back at us is our own.

Aurora

The Cool Cookie said...

This is going to make me very unpopular, but I thought she looked horrid. The way that she looked and sounded gave me concern for her health - physical and emotional. And I am going to throw down another bomb - Kim Novak was never a top tier star. Yes, she got some parts in some good movies, but she never carried those movies as Doris Day, Ava Gardner or even Jayne Mansfield could have. She was not a great actress in the vain of Davis, or Susan Hayworth, Shirley McClain or even Joan Crawford. She was a manufacturer star who was packaged, promoted and produced. That said, she was utterly brave to take to the stage last night. I just wish that we could have embraced her for who she is instead what she felt she had to be. I just wish someone had gotten to her before the botox rendered her emotionless and plumpers had been injected.

Ellen Ornato said...

I think the producers really need to re-think their objectives when they trot out people who haven't presented in a long time. What purpose did having her up there serve? Granted, she could have declined, but they had to know that she wouldn't do well. All the descriptions of how she was her whole life, as a shy and lacking confidence, set her up for yet another wooden performance. I think the Oscars owe Kim an apology. And yes, Matthew handled it better than he did his acceptance speech.

AmyB said...

Loved this piece and have a few comments.
Someone mentioned that people were talking about Angela Lansbury aging gracefully. Um, no. Ms. Lansbury had plastic surgery years ago when she was on Murder She Wrote and was REAMED in the press for it. She was unapologetic and apparently had a good surgeon, as she looks very good.
As for Kim Novak, what struck me was how few people seemed to know who she was. Someone on facebook asked, and a friend replied that she was the "hot babe" in Vertigo. REALLY?
Last, why isn't anyone commenting on how dotty Sidney Poitier seemed? My goodness, I thought Angelina Jolie was going to have to carry him. I feel badly for him, but why is no one ragging on him? I thought both Angelina and Matthew McConaughey showed a lot of class and understanding. Whoever paired them up did a good job.

Liadan said...

And now they criticize Lupina for being too flat chested, too dark.

One of the most beautiful women on the planet...and they have to knock her.

mas82730 said...

I recall being awestruck by Emmanuelle Riva at last year's Oscars. She was 86, she looked 86 and her unretouched beauty damned near broke my heart.

The Siren said...

I shall take up arms against anyone being unkind to Lupita! But she is young and on top of the world and I hope way too happy even to notice petty jealousy. Novak's out of the spotlight now and came back to see and be seen again; she deserved nothing but gratitude, in my view.

Clara said...

Lovely article. Thank you for this. Novak was always and remains a class act who is far too good for this industry which punishes women brutally for daring to age. There is no acceptable choice and I *despise* how we attack women who get cosmetic surgery. (Donald Trump's nastiness is especially despicable considering how viciously he goes after anyone who mocks *his* appearance--see his pathetic feud with Rosie O'Donnell after she made fun of his hair a few years ago.)

John I said...

I was shocked by how out of it and wooden many of the presenters looked last night. Harrison Ford was a slurry mess. Do these stars get paid for such engagements, or is it done gratis as free publicity. Did Novak need the money? Ford certainly doesn't, though he surely looked like he would rather have been elsewhere.

Judy Becker said...

I have never in my life figured out who set certain people up as judge & jury…let them follow actors around for just 1 day of shooting a movie…from auditioning…makeup…gain or lose weight…be at beckon call of others…then have your face/body plastered up on a large screen…producers/director etc wanting you to "look" perfect…all the while needing time to study lines & rehearse…then be subjected to public commentary & criticism…let them go up on stager & look back into the audience all the while knowing there are millions staring back via tv…actors are treated like chattel…they are human attempting to make a living at something they enjoy doing…to be admired for their skills as actors & always to be remembered as human beings


rudyfan1926 said...

JD5, YES! The film with Frderic March is one of my favorites! Thank you for mentioning it!

alexa said...

No big whoop either way, but her face is NOT a result of "fillers" a "few weeks before" the Oscars. This is a result of multiple major face lifts.

ellen grogan said...

Couldn't agree more . Absolutely foul, the way the misogynist Cohn treated her and as you say ground her down.
But the media plus the fashion and beauty industry do it to us all, day in, day out.
Another reason feminism is so vital to our sanity.
Women must begin defining ourselves.All we have to do is take that power into our own hands.
I certainly do it in my own life and my mental health is much improved as a result.

Carla said...

It's a shame that Hollywood has made both men and women think aging is something to be ashamed of to the point of self-abuse and alterations that could never end well. And an even bigger shame on the greedy people who perform these procdures.

jolieATX said...

Kim Novak is a victim? I read the wiki entry about her - she's certainly sustained a number of personal hits (house burned down and then within the year she was robbed) but surely - surely! - a woman who has the vita of Ms. Novak's can rise above the psychological damage Mr. Cohn inflicted on her decades ago.

CineMaven said...
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CineMaven said...

Hi there Siren. I loved your article here on Kim Novak and her appearance on the Academy Awards telecast last night. I'm a fan. I got a chance to meet her and be photographed WITH her ( << SWOON! >> ) at the TCM Film Festival last April. I also saw her interviewed by Robert Osborne at last year's TCM Film Festival, and was in tears because of her honesty, openness and vulnerability.

I won't be reading anything unkind about her, so I'll spare myself ( and a verbal ass-whooping to the Snark crowd. ) One thing the Academy didn't do which missed the mark, was maybe show a short film montage of Ms. Novak's career. Ha! That probably would have only served to help clods make a comparison between a woman today and fifty years ago. But my thought about that was to educate viewers of who this woman is coming out onstage.

Kim Novak is one of the greats. She is appreciated by fans in the know. For those who rag on her, ha! It's so easy to be backseat drivers. She looked beautiful and her voice...sends chills! :-)

CineMaven

JohnyStarr said...

It's a sad world that we live in where people who make women feel they need to look like that are lauded and the ones who speak up about that horrifying look women of a certain age pay those men a lot of money for are made to look like bullies. Kim Novak was a gorgeous woman and probably aged as she should have, gracefully and beautifully. Don't give me a load of shit because I choose to speak up about this calamity. Give it to the people who make her feel she had to do it.

Klara Tavakoli Goesche said...

My husband and I watched her segment in respectful silence; I was also very glad Matthew McConaughey (who's always been a good person first, an actor second) was up there with her, protecting her. Agree with your sentiments 100%, but I need to say something about your mentioning that it's no wonder Novak would rather spend time with animals. The other actresses you cited have spent decades campaigning and working to protect other species from (the cruelty of) the human race. That work is not a retreat in any way. Defending and protecting other species (from humans) is the saddest, hardest job anyone can do. It is work -- I value that work above their work in films, as much as I value them as actresses. It is not a reclusive decision for their own sakes, but an active, struggling, painful effort for the equally valuable lives of others. Humans are indeed dangerous and cruel. Those ladies learned that firsthand in Hollywood, yes. But there are an infinite number of Hollywood stars who do not dedicate their lives to saving other species from the wrath of humans. Other species continue to need all the help and defense they can get on this planet. Calling out the efforts of Doris Day, Tippi Hedren (and for some time, Brigitte Bardot) as you mentioned -- among others like Mary Tyler Moore; on the music front, Brian May. Needed to mention that. Thanks for the piece and for defending Kim Novak, it really didn't seem easy for her to get up on that stage and she should have had more support than she received:)

The Siren said...

"Give it to the people who make her feel she had to do it."

Mr. Starr, I must gently point out that 90% of this post is doing just that vs. one line referring to the mockery.

Elizabeth Daugherty said...

Long ago, Hollywood instituted its values and its sense of priorities. Ms. Novack knew it and still made the decision to get involved in the world of motion pictures.

That said, there are many others who are also in that world but made their own decision as to who would dictate, if it all, what they would or would not do to their face. Angela Lansbury is 88 years old and hasn't ironed so much as a pinch on her face.

Ms. Novak has decided to let the Hollywood value system dictate to her that she should have frozen features underscoring the irony that the film she presented the award to was also of the same name "Frozen". Kurt Vonnegut wrote "We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

Tinky said...

I think the lesson here is that we shouldn't pay a heck of a lot of attention to what shows up on Twitter. I didn't look at it at all last night--just watched the show and thought Novak looked pretty much as she has recently. She's never been my one of my favorite actresses, but I don't want to see her or anyone else abused, and I thank you, dear Siren, for standing up for her.

bitter69uk said...

Thanks for coming to Novak's defense so elegantly, Siren. We live in ageist and misogynistic times. At least Novak can say she was beautiful once - how many of her detractors can?

Carole McDonnell said...

Perfectly said.

noir said...

Just as I tweeted last night... My mother and father are about Kim Novak's age, so I responded to seeing her and Sidney Poitier not just as actors I respect, who have touched me with their work - but as people who are making their way forward in a culture that abhors aging, and increasingly sets up body standards almost no one can meet.

My dad, a 77 year old man surviving with leukemia, has been criticized by a doctor at length because he is 10 pounds over the "ideal weight" for his height. That's right - he's not overweight. He's just not "ideal". I didn't believe it when he told me, and the lengths he has gone to try and meet this demand makes me very concerned for his health and well-being. Like Novak, he has internalized all kinds of body shame. Wasn't that what that Jimmy Kimmel skit just prior to the show was all about - "You people at home are just a bunch of fat slobs with cheeto fingers, so don't you dare criticize the beautiful people"? That attitude is two sides of the same coin.

Yes, there were some ugly, cruel comments about Kim Novak. But speaking for myself - and I see I'm not alone - I am mad as hell at the unforgiving standards of our age, not the actor themselves, when I see extreme plastic surgery. I am mad at the idea that her beauty was supposed to be more important than the unique performances she's given over the years (and I've loved so many of them, from "Five Against the House" to "Middle of the Night" to "Bell, Book and Candle") I am sure that many, many of the people talking about "aging gracefully" are coming from that same place.

Aubyn Eli said...

"...she got some parts in some good movies, but she never carried those movies as Doris Day, Ava Gardner or even Jayne Mansfield could have..."

I respectfully disagree, The Cool Cookie. I think her sexy, beguiling performance is the thing holding Bell, Book, and Candle together. She's also great in Middle of the Night; her wounded vulnerability fits perfectly in the part. Few actresses that look like that could convince you they would go for a 62-year-old Fredric March. As for her work in Vertigo...I leave that to the many eloquent writers who've already gone over that territory.

I was rather charmed to find that Rose McGowan, not an actress who's ever been on my radar, was blasting the Oscars audience on Twitter for not giving Novak a standing ovation. Normally, I don't support Twitter tirades (lot of smoke and fire, not much sense), but have to say, it was a nice change to see a younger member of Hollywood protesting their cinematic amnesia.

The Siren said...

Noir, that is so well put; thanks. I think we are coming from the same place, of respect for Novak's accomplishments. I wanted people to look at what she did in terms of what it cost her, and I dashed this off as an argument for respect and kindness, which you're showing. I honestly had no idea it was going to bounce all over the World Wide Freaking Web like this, or I'd had have taken the chance to talk about her work.

SO if anyone reads this in the middle of what looks to be a long thread, please watch

VERTIGO (of course)
STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET
BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE
PICNIC (she's heartbreaking in a portrait of a young woman trapped by her own beauty)
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM
PUSHOVER
THE MIRROR CRACK'D

Never seen MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, I hear it's good too.

Thanks for the reminder. :)

Dan Leo said...

Well said, dear Siren.

Carmi Levy said...

It saddens me that so many among us resort to cheap shots like those we've seen in the wake of this year's awards. Thank you for saying what needed to be said, and for saying it so eloquently.

Beth Kephart said...

I cheer you on. Thank you.

Brad Dolan said...

xx

Marketing the Muse said...

Not to advocate plastic surgery but this is what happens to women because the information -readily available- is not shared. Why? The good docs don't need patients; referrals fuel their practices. The bad ones market everywhere and because people don't know what procedures like fillers and facial implants can do to a face, they believe the quacky docs who deliver quacky medicine that has no checks and balances because plastic surgery remains in the closet. And she had a lot more done to her poor face besides fillers. It's a shame but this has happened to women in her age group simply because plastic surgery is relatively new. Phyliss Diller, Joan Rivers and evidently, Kim Novak, were the 1st wave's guinea pigs...Why we don't share what's good and what isn't is beyond me...but we won't and because of this lack of good information, quacky MDs will continue to do quacky work that results in this kind of ridicule. I agree, Matthew M. was so kind to her; a man raised well.

Trish said...

Girl, you are famous today! Great job! We'll probably never see her in public again thanks to all the nasty twerps out there. Amy Adams was asked who she most wanted to meet last night, and her answer was Kim Novak, and then she showed the interviewer that she was wearing her hair like Ms. Novak's chignon in Vertigo.

csquared said...

Thank you for your heartfelt response to the unwarranted and disrespectful social media attacks on Kim Novak. However your theory about Kim getting work very recently is off. She actually spoke about her botched surgery a couple of years ago--apparently a surgeon talked her into a procedure she had reservations about. http://www.webpronews.com/kim-novak-has-beat-bigger-battles-than-binary-brats-2014-03

It's a testament to Kim's bravery she's willing to make the occasional public appearance, but then again she dealt with much more formidable critics that Twitterers in her life such as Harry Cohn. I wish the Academy had played clips to show why she was a legend before she came out and that the audience gave her a standing O when she came out as she deserved the respect and the honor. Film historian James Harvey has written with insight on Kim in his book Movie Love of the 50s and he observed that Kim seemed "like the unwanted guest" in Hollywood and last night just reinforced this. She's still slated to appear at this year's TCM Film Fest for a screening of Bell Book and Candle. While I can't blame her if she decides to back out, I hope she shows up as the TCM Fest crowd, I'm sure, will give her the love and respect she deserves.

csquared said...

Thank you for your heartfelt response to the unwarranted and disrespectful social media attacks on Kim Novak. However your theory about Kim getting work very recently is off. She actually spoke about her botched surgery a couple of years ago--apparently a surgeon talked her into a procedure she had reservations about. http://www.webpronews.com/kim-novak-has-beat-bigger-battles-than-binary-brats-2014-03

It's a testament to Kim's bravery she's willing to make the occasional public appearance, but then again she dealt with much more formidable critics that Twitterers in her life such as Harry Cohn. I wish the Academy had played clips to show why she was a legend before she came out and that the audience gave her a standing O when she came out as she deserved the respect and the honor. Film historian James Harvey has written with insight on Kim in his book Movie Love of the 50s and he observed that Kim seemed "like the unwanted guest" in Hollywood and last night just reinforced this. She's still slated to appear at this year's TCM Film Fest for a screening of Bell Book and Candle. While I can't blame her if she decides to back out, I hope she shows up as the TCM Fest crowd, I'm sure, will give her the love and respect she deserves.

Richard said...

A good actress who was a crush of men for years. A debasing industry filled with cynical, hateful management knowing how to manipulate and demean the talent.

Richard said...

A good actress who was a crush of men for years. A debasing industry filled with cynical, hateful management knowing how to manipulate and demean the talent.

Klara Tavakoli Goesche said...

Yes, Trish –– saw that too. Amy Adams was respectful and excited in her pre-Oscars interview, she even wanted her dress to have a 50's silhouette in Novak's honor. I can never understand why people are so ungrateful about so much (from the plights of our fellow species -- to the gossip-ridden plights of celebrities) until it's too late. Instead of someday being honored at the Oscars after she's no longer with us, Novak appeared last night, live and in person. That should have been a celebratory moment for movie lovers, which is all the Oscars should even be about. Instead, her appearance became yet another shameful moment for this entitled, cruel species to spew hatred. I'm ashamed of being human every day... so why should today have been any different?

TX Grandma said...

We are ALL headed that way (if we are lucky). The snarky people are going to age also! If we were wise, we would make growing older something to be celebrated, not something to be be made fun of and mocked and ridiculed.

Linda Q said...

Oh call the waaambulance. There were lovely older women at the Oscars who didn't sex kitten it up. She's not a victim.

Juanita's Journal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanwall said...

Wow, I say, wow. Late to the show, and ready to unload some double ought in the gen'ral direction of the Kim Novak snarks - sure to hit any or many of 'em, I can see by the Twit Level - and now, no need, you and the reg'lars have done the mighty for me. Well done, Oh Siren, well done.

Juanita's Journal said...

I remember seeing Kim Novak being interviewed by Robert Osbourne recently. I could tell that she was slightly nervous . . . even after being famous for over 50 years and at moments, struggling to keep her emotions in check.

And yes, I believe Miss Novak was a victim. She has been a victim of society's perception of beauty and age since the moment she became a model. Some people can deal with society's (Hollywood is not the only society guilty of this) demands. And some have more difficulty in facing it. Knowing my personality, I suspect I would have difficulty in dealing with it.

After seeing her in that interview with Osbourne, Novak must have went through some mental hell in making that decision to accept surgery and later appear on the Oscars. I wish she had not accepted the surgery. But I can understand why she did it.

Juli said...

Siren, other social media sites were saying that she has had nerve damage and a stroke, after falling off a horse.

MightyRosebud said...

Hold up. "So a few weeks before the ceremony, you go to a doctor, and he says, “Relax honey. I have just the thing to make you fresh and dewy for the cameras.”

This is not what happened. She's been messing with her face for years. Check out photos from three, four, and five years ago. That isn't the result of dermal fillers. There's some serious cosmetic surgery going on.

I'll grant you that women are expected to uphold ridiculous standards, but I'd also like to think that at some point, we earn the right to say, fuck this. I'm doing it my way.

Also, let's not forget Bruce Jenner, Michael Jackson and Mickey Rourke. Men go off the rails, too. We may just not see it as much.

poetprof said...

I appreciate your attempt at generosity, but the fact is, many pictures of Kim Novak show plastic surgery for years before the Oscars. Yes, she may have had some additional recent work, but for years, not only she but many other lovely women have decided that it's more important to seek treatment that they know can have disfiguring results. I understand that our culture sets up expectations to which we hold women, but we as women and the men who love us must start to say no. Perhaps thinking about how important it is for those younger than ourselves to see what it means to age (relatively) fearlessly. I have sons, not daughters, but I have women friends younger than I am, I have female students, and I want them to know that it's okay to get older.

Tom Egan said...

Whatever one's opinions of plastic surgery are...or whatever one's opinions of Kim Novak's (alleged) procedures are (specifically)...i am just so sad and DISGUSTED at the lack of civility and manners in this "digital age". Yesterday, a very kind and elegant 81yo woman made the effort to select beautiful clothes...in beautiful colors that she imagined would flatter her. She styled her hair...applied make-up. She admitted, after the show...that she rarely does this anymore...but was excited and also somewhat nervous about walking on to a stage...in front of the entire world...so many dacades after left this "industry". An industry she once loved and had made a hard-earned living working in it. What happened next??? A RIOT broke out on the internet...mean-spirited comments BY THE MILLIONS flew fast and furious. "She looks pathetic!"..."What a sad, old clown"...were two comments i noticed right away. Even well-intentioned critiques: "Not to criticize her...she just should have looked within and developed the self-confidence not to butcher her face". Thanks for that insight, internet sage. I'm sure Ms Novak found your advice helpful. Whatever happened to: "You look beautiful tonight Ms Novak...you are a legend and it is a THRILL to see you back at the Oscar's! We have never forgotten you. Thank you for entertaining us". AND LEAVE IT AT THAT.

Mrs. R said...

My friend accompanied Deborah Kerr and her husband to the Oscars, and he remarked at how to the viewers, Deborah seemed very out of it and she wasn't, not at all. The fact is, the Oscars are terrifying! It doesn't matter who you are, you are nervous standing up there. Kim has always been beautiful and very well spoken. There were several people there last night who, knowing they were going to be on the Oscars, had some touch-ups. It's the pressure, which is ridiculous, because a few months earlier, all those people looked absolutely fine and, as was stated, still have their radiant smiles and personalities and everything that makes them great.

Mrs. R said...

Someone mentioned Angela Lansbury - she admits to having had a complete facelift right before Mame, when she was 39 years old and has had work done since. She doesn't go overboard and she doesn't have her eyes done because it would impede her expressiveness. Plastic surgery is a fact of life in Hollywood. I don't think it's going to change any time soon.

The Siren said...

Mrs R, it's been too long since you swung by! I remember Kerr and the chatter about her very well. But it was pre-Net Age and that's all it was, chatter, a few articles. I think part of the dismay is something a friend remarked, that comments that used to stay in the living room or on the phone during a nice long gossip are now traveling around the world. I've had to pull back myself more than once, I'm no saint. But for obvious reasons, I see the stars and filmmakers I revere the most and I want everyone to treat them well. I get very upset when they're not.

Jennifer Lockwood said...

She looks like she has been having procedures for years - that is not just a few injections before the Oscars. My mom is 85 and has had a few procedures but looks nothing like that! It is not necessary for people to post rude comments, but we are human and it is very hard to look at her without feeling sad and critical. Sad for our daughters who are growing up in a world where women feel it's necessary to do this to themselves. Girls need better role models. When you do that to yourself, you are basically exposing your insecurities about yourself and leave yourself open to attack. It is sad, not right, but what women are doing to their faces is not right either. Just say no to extreme plastic surgery!

misospecial said...

Middle of the Night is terrific, the only Chayefsky aside from Marty that I much like. Novak is perfectly cast (Gena Rowlands had done the part on Broadway) and Fredric March is damn good though miscast as a Jewish garmento (it was Edward G. onstage). It has echoes of Marty (lonely people, discouraged by family from marrying) but the problems are tougher and more intractable. I love this one... one of Novak's best roles, right up there in her top tier.

JamTheCat said...

What shocked me about last night was how no one in the audience rose to give her a standing ovation. They gave one to U-2. They gave one to Sydney Poitier. Why the FFFFFF didn't they give one to Kim, who also deserved it? It's disgusting, the way they just sat there and barely clapped.

Semore Bofus said...

Most of your piece is lifted from the Atlantic - you take care to credit the book but don't mention the article. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/03/getting-picked-on-at-the-oscars-at-age-81/284170/

Semore Bofus said...

Most of your piece is lifted from the Atlantic - you take care to credit the book but don't mention the article. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/03/getting-picked-on-at-the-oscars-at-age-81/284170/

Cirze said...

I'm with Skippy and all the others who talked about her grace, poise under pressure and valiant, glowing countenance at the Oscars.

I, for one, was thrilled when I first recognized who the goddess coming out on the stage with Matthew McConaughey was!

What a classy woman she always was and what a pleasure to see her again.

I always thought her movies were terrific, especially "Bell, Book and Candle," "Picnic" and "Man With the Golden Arm."

I'm so glad to have discovered your blog. You are one empathic reviewer and I'm very taken with your prose.

Salute!

VP81955 said...

I too wish to put in a good word for "Middle Of The Night." Kim shows plenty of empathy in a role that's more workmanlike than glamorous. You will love it.

I just wrote a more extended take on what happened at the Oscars, with some thoughts on plastic surgery as well as he double standard of aging:

http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/676525.html

Lemora said...

JamTheCat, I had not realized the lack of a standing ovation for Kim Novak until you noted it! I haven't read any of the garbage on the internet --wherever it is-- and I won't. I've never been near Twitter. I'm coming to believe that it's mainly a form of communication for Twits, hence the name. Ralph Fiennes described it as "the lowest form of misery" in a Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire a few years back, and if I were not already a fan, that would make me one for life. At ten, I wanted to be Gillian Holroyd when I grew up. I still do (minus her ultimate fate). My mother wouldn't let me get a Siamese and name it Pyewacket, because I already had two cats. But, I did redo my bedroom in lavender. (I know, Harry Cohn probably cooked up that bullshit publicity, but hey, I was ten.) And while James Stewart is much too old for the part, he's still right for it. We have actors who specialize in good-natured dopiness, but nobody embodies wholesome, elegant, squareness like James Stewart did: "Golly Moses, you mean there are WITCHES!? Right here in New York City!?" Yeah, Shep, there are.

Batocchio said...

I've never been Novak's biggest fan, but I agree with this (great) piece, and I wasn't aware of all Novak's past hard knocks. The standard for actresses is ridiculous. And although it's cool that Liv Ullman and some others have refused to have plastic surgery, it's hard not to be sympathetic about the enormous pressure on actresses (in Hollywood specifically). I was glad to see June Squibb get nominated, and likewise happy to see what great careers Kathy Bates and now Margo Martindale have been having. Cate Blanchett's remarks about features starring women (of complexity and depth, not to mention middle-aged and older) were most welcome.

tmartel said...

In the early eighties when I moved to Carmel, CaliforniaI was blessed to discover Kim Novak.
She lived there with her husband and was teaching an excercise /dance class when I met her. I loved her spirit. Her humor, her intelligence. And her genuine sweetness. I felt terribly sad last night to see the disrespect the industry demonstrated. I deeply regret having lost touch with her since 1986. I'll try to locate her telephone number...and pray that I do. I believe I will be able to find Kim again. And when I do there will be so much to share again...


Arlene Martel

Vanwall said...

Semore Bofus - The Atlantic article links directly to this post, and THIS is the post the Atlantic was quoting in their article, not the other way around. No 'lifting' was involved. Please read more carefully in the future.

KennethCB said...

Kim Novak is a goddess. Even if she only made that one film, she would be a goddess. But there is much more than Vertigo, as unforgettable as Novak is in that film. (And yes, I understand that Hitchcock had something to do with Novak's shattering performance.)

Dear Siren: I came here today hoping you would have written about this, this ... I don't know what to call it. You alone cannot erase the hideousness of the Twittosphere, but your writing honors a wonderful actress and a helluva woman, and for that we are grateful.

Leah Williams said...

Thank you, Siren, for reminding me of a favorite Mike Royko column about the 1976 Oscars, "Mary Pickford's Old 'Error.'" Gossip columnists and viewers had complained she'd shown up because they wanted to remember her as beautiful, not as old. But Royko noticed instead her happy tears and "...her husband, Buddy Rogers, no kid himself, looking at her with love and pride, looking like he was almost crying himself from these feelings. I thought that was very, very nice. Maybe because I'm not easily offended."

barbsrose said...

Reading many of the comments about Kim Novak and other actresses who have has plastic surgery to maintain or improve their looks, it reminds me of how sexist the acting industry is. It's also a reminder that these women's self esteem is rather low to begin with. The managers of these "stars." don't help much when they insult, and make negative comments. The public is also to blame for calling women names when they plump or wrinkle up. The country is still controlled by men who see women as sexual objects. This goes not only for the movie industry, but also for clothing and the work force. I am tired of the crap...another reason I am no longer dying my hair!

David in Chicago said...

Thank you, Siren, for this. And thank you for reminding me of Strangers When We Meet - I saw it some years ago, probably on TCM, and everything about it is so good and so moving. I'll have to track it down and see it again. And like a lot of others commenting on this thread, I've lost count of the number of times I've seen Vertigo.

Roberta said...

Thank you again for this thoughtful/thought provoking post. I was glad to be able to share it.

treva dea said...

Well said. Bravo.

tomassocroccante said...

Your quote from Mr. Von Stroheim on your profile is so appropriate. It seems to me that people "in the business" are quite nervous about longevity and are yet among the first to ridicule the so-called "has been". It's a hard business, and when I hear a young comic say that they "never heard of" the celebs on Dancing With the Stars, for instance, I wonder what kind of career they think they will have themselves.

For a knowing look inside, see the Clooney-produced HBO series UNSCRIPTED. (Easy to find on DVD)A young actress is told to lose weight, a slightly older one finds she can't escape her former "sexy" typecasting, and a mature one can't reignite an old love affair because the equally mature acting teacher has his choice of younger women.

Clint Eastwood said a few years ago that he has to "see" everyone before he casts them, no matter if he knows their work - he has to discover if they look their age, if they look like real people, or surgically altered glamor-pusses. It's pretty clear that an altered state would not suit the role of Philomena or of Woody & Kate Grant in Nebraska.

(I think of "Jenna" on 30 Rock, when she reads for a part on Gossip Girls and thinks she's up for the teenage daughter and blanches at the reality that she's there for the dying mother!)

R2C2 said...

Thank you for addressing the nastiness and hypocrisy that was aimed at Kim Novak for her appearance at the Academy Awards. She agreed to appear at this event (and was probably nervous) and then got torn to shreds afterward for her effort. What’s worse is that so many people feel the need to tweet their nasty, one-shot jabs at her. Kim Novak isn’t a set up for their joke, she’s a human being that our culture has ensnared in a “no win” situation.

cgeye said...

I understood the nastiness, because that is the Internet as mob -- but I could not forgive the Academy audience that did not give respect through a standing ovation.

Which, they gave to U2.

U2.

Standing Os are now devalued, in my opinion.

Jeff Vernon said...

Ms. Novak is an 81 year old woman, a Hollywood icon, and deserves respect. The comments at Twitter and other websites were mean-spirited, ignorant and malicious. There is very little respect in society these days. Some people feel it is ok to say anything they wish about anyone, of any age, race, class, gender, etc. Very very sad. We must respect and honor those who have brought happiness to our lives.

Texicandog said...

I think she looked great!!! Let's see how all the complainers and snipers look when they are 81!!!

Texicandog said...

I think she looks great! Let's see how good all the complainers and snipers look when they are 81!!!

Sue Reynolds said...

Hi Siren, I just wanted to write to thank you for your heartfelt post about Kim Novak and the Oscars. When I first stumbled upon your blog I loved the graciousness and civility with which you wrote. I sometimes think that if Audrey Hepburn blogged, she would sound a lot like you.

Tammy Bishop said...

Kim was beautiful as always. I don't agree she needed surgery but it is her business,not mine. I've always been a fan, especially of her work on Vertigo. I also particularly loved Bell Book and Candle. All I can say is Yayyyy Kim and Yayyy Marilyn because you are beautiful as either.

Jonathan Rosenbaum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Rosenbaum said...

Thanks for expressing my own feelings very precisely.

For what it's worth:
http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2006/07/kim-noval-as-midwestern-independent/

BichonPop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BichonPop said...

In the right role she was wonderful, and she was in a lot of right roles. She lacked the coldness that allowed Monroe to hide how broken she felt. One of my favorite performances of hers is in a movie that seems to be forgotten, although it shouldn't be. STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET, in which she stars with Kirk Douglas and Ernie Movacs. She plays a woman whose beauty has caused her and everyone she touches nothing but sadness. Like a sexual Midas.

Melody said...

Thank you for saying this. You'd think by the time you've made it to the age of 81, people would leave you be, but no. It's not about Ms. Novak and her plastic surgery, it's about the fact that once you're no longer in your twenties or early thirties, you are no longer of any use as a woman. We need to stand up and say no more. We shouldn't have to hide because we aren't young and we shouldn't be made to be ashamed of our wrinkles and fat.

Jay said...

Strangers When We Meet has been mentioned a few times -- It's my favorite performance of hers and a wonderful film all around. I'll also ditto the praise for Middle of the Night. Fredric March was always brilliant in that stage of his career, and while Novak may lack his sheer chops, that exposed nerve quality of hers levels the playing field.

Broobs said...

I just want to say, I haven't seen her for a while, and while its clear she had a lot of surgery and filler..she looks bloody amazing for 81. yea the mouth/cheeks are a bit weird but she still looks good. Like I would rather look like her than almost any other 81 year old if I cared about looks. Aging gracefully or whatever is honourable buit who gives a damn what anyone else does with their face and unlike some old people, she still looks good if a little fake. I can only assume all this backlash is just jealousy.

Broobs said...

I just want to say, I haven't seen her for a while, and while its clear she had a lot of surgery and filler..she looks bloody amazing for 81. yea the mouth/cheeks are a bit weird but she still looks good. Like I would rather look like her than almost any other 81 year old if I cared about looks. Aging gracefully or whatever is honourable buit who gives a damn what anyone else does with their face and unlike some old people, she still looks good if a little fake. I can only assume all this backlash is just jealousy.

Vincent Wolfe said...

Wonderful piece. I agree wholeheartedly. She's given us many classic film moments and performances. Thought she looked great. Harry Cohn was just the biggest bastard. Treated Kim, Rita Hayworth, Judy Holliday and even Lucille Ball very, very badly. A tyrant. Though Columbia made some great movies...

Vincent Wolfe said...

Wonderful piece. I agree wholeheartedly. She's given us many classic film moments and performances. Thought she looked great. Harry Cohn was just the biggest bastard. Treated Kim, Rita Hayworth, Judy Holliday and even Lucille Ball very, very badly. A tyrant. Though Columbia made some great movies...

Vincent Wolfe said...

Wonderful piece. I agree wholeheartedly. She's given us many classic film moments and performances. Thought she looked great. Harry Cohn was just the biggest bastard. Treated Kim, Rita Hayworth, Judy Holliday and even Lucille Ball very, very badly. A tyrant. Though Columbia made some great movies...

Devil Kitty said...

I didn't watch the Oscars so I've only seen still shots of Ms. Novak and...she looks amazing, so I'm not getting why people are being so evil about her. There are some great comments in here, very interesting reading. Also, the fact that Arlene Martel is fangirling over Kim Novak has completely made my day.

Sherry M said...

The first instance I saw Kim on stage I did not recognize her, as I missed hearing the name introductions... I cringed a bit, but in a second I thought 'my is she so brave' I later read she is 81 and was surprised that her skin held out so well despite looking 'tampered' with. There was a reason she was there. A story has unfolded. The ugliness of Hollywood and its slave takers.

barrylane said...

I didn't wish to comment and spoil everyone's righteous good time, but Kim Novak is and was not a slave. Movie stars are not conscripted nor are they the products of prison and brutality. Harry Cohn was not a monster despite the fantastic stories written on this site. Kim Novak, Rita Hayworth, Judy Holliday and others, all had what they hoped to have, success, and under his administration. That he was probably uncouth does not enter into the equation. As for personal things, unhappy child hood, we all have something and transcend, or not, our backgrounds. Kim Novak , like a lot of other men and women, had some ill advised cosmetic surgery. Additionally, she was uncomfortable in the spotlight. If there is a criticism to be made, and I believe that there is, the person who put her up there, made the offer is partly to blame. Kim Novak is a partner in that. Clearly she had an option to decline and very likely should have.

Andrew Morone said...

Let's talk about Eva Marie Saint:
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/why-oscar-winner-eva-marie-saint-never-went-hollywood/

Paul F. Etcheverry said...

Well said, Siren and I couldn't agree more. There are some awfully mean individuals out there, cloaked by the anonymity of cyberspace. All I can think of is how many greats from silent movies, comedy (films and TV) and the worlds of jazz and rock music - my all-time favorites - died young. Kim deserves our respect and thanks.

Juanita's Journal said...

["Movie stars are not conscripted nor are they the products of prison and brutality."]


Yes, they are . . . to a certain extent. That conscription came in the forms of contracts.

barrylane said...

She had an employment contract, as most of us do, whether reduced to writing or understoo9d. That someone thinks this is the equivalent of 'conscription' goes to the hysteria I have been reading on this board.

camorrista said...

"...goes to the hysteria I have been reading on this board."

Time for everybody to tone down the hysteria so barrylane won't leave. Or perhaps not.

squiggystardust said...

Hmmn. cruel, mean-spirited comments here as well - each one actually proving the original thesis. People who spout ugliness reveal themselves.

Becky Kurtz said...

I'm sending her a fan letter in care of her agent:


Cameron Consulting
310-739-0888 phone
scameron22@yahoo.com
835 S. Lucerne Blvd. #206
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Leslie F. Miller said...

@Semore Bofus, The Atlantic quoted THIS piece because THIS piece was the one the Atlantic was writing about.

Thanks for this, Farran Nehme. You were on the money with every word you wrote.

Leslie F. Miller said...

@barrylane, making someone feel ugly and inferior is a form of emotional abuse. If your mother or father or teacher were doing it, you'd grow up to feel inferior and ugly and insecure, and you'd do things because of that abuse that you wouldn't do were you just a well-adjusted person who was treated with kindness and respect.

She was not a slave, but she was not free. Her abuser was adept at keeping her where he wanted her to be. That's what abusers do. It's a pretty simple concept.

We are all products of our environments. Not all of us become victims, but to say that our impoverished surroundings are not enough to lead us to poverty is to ignore history and science.

Not everyone is a victim. But you do often have to look at circumstance. At the very least, so you will not be surprised.

LeoNation 7 said...

Lest we forget, "Just because we can" does not give us a pass when we choose to belittle someone for our own amusement -- sometimes, it seems, with the intent to impress others as well. To make a mockery of individuals whose artful work has entertained, educated, and enlightened us is an unspeakable, wrong-headed choice. As my grandmother have said might were she still with us, "There isn't enough soap in this state to wash out all those foul mouths!"

joe baltake said...

Not enough can be said about the divine Kim Novak and too little has been said about the glorious "The Notorious Landlady."

david hartzog said...

Thank you.

Wortley Clutterbuck said...

Siren wrote: "It's an industry where looks matter, and that's never gonna change. Not just because of sexism, but because humans will always love to look at a beautiful person. "

Isn't that exactly it? It feels like two sides of the same coin. The beautiful enjoy advantages in the entertainment industry, then suffer criticism for failing to defy time.

Looks are, as you say, inevitable to the business, but giving weight to them one way or the other -- or awards shows, frankly -- feels like wriggling on the end of the businessman's line. Enjoy the work.

And the blog! And the DVD notes, etc. Thanks!

rangeragainstwar said...

Spot-on.

Oh, we love to elevate our "Alpha women" in the media ... take your pick. And we love later to savage them for being human.

Thank god for women like Ashley Judd, author Naomi Wolf, and so many others who stand up to the petty vilification.

Meanwhile, most women are enduring any number of uncomfortable/dangerous beauty regimes that they might "hold back the years" a little longer. Like Yoko Ono wrote, "Woman is the Nigger of the World."

--Lisa

Lemora said...

I like to imagine that Roman and Minnie Castevet went to Gillian Holroyd's shop, back in the 'fifties, to get a little something for Rosemary Woodhouse.

Touareg Netvor said...

Shame on me. I am from Czech Republic and have never heard about Kim Novak. I discovered this blog because I was looking for cosmetic surgery posts and articles. Now I learned something new and more interesting dor me, thank you very much.