Harry Cohn was the head of the studio, and it wasn’t an exaggeration to compare him to a dictator — in fact, legend has it, he kept a framed photo on his desk of Mussolini.Harry Cohn made Marilyn her change her name because in the branding universe of Hollywood, there couldn’t be two Marilyns.As you can hear, in the room at the Dolby Theater, Novak’s presence was at least accorded the respect of polite applause.
So right from the start, she had to become someone different in order to stand out on her own.
Cohn wanted to transform Marilyn Novak into someone called Kit Marlowe; the actress’ first act of defiance was to resist this, to insist on keeping her family name and to refuse to take on a first name meant to evoke a kitten.
She worked all manner of after-school odd jobs — dental assistant, dime store clerk, elevator operator.
When she was 20, she earned the role of Miss Deepfreeze, and embarked on a national tour posing with refrigerators.
The frenzied speed at which Novak’s face was eviscerated, the lighting-quick pace at which said evisceration was then spun into click-bait, then the second wave of content in defense of Novak, either shaming her shamers for arguments sake, or, like Farren’s piece, actually offering humanizing context — these are all products of the technology we have right this second, and the way we use it now.
But the essence of what happened here was as old-school as it gets, and it’s the type of thing that’s been happening to Novak, on-screen and off, for 60 years. As we take a look back at The Hard Hollywood Life of Kim Novak.
He tries to make Judy over into Madeline — without realizing that they were the same person all along. I felt so vulnerable.”When was going into production in 1957, Kim Novak was the biggest star in Hollywood.
The double role of Madeline, the ultimate Hitchcockian icy blonde fetish object, and Judy, a regular working girl undone by insecurities which are desperate but not unfounded — was played by Kim Novak. She was 24 years old, she had only been in Hollywood for four years, and her movies were already selling more tickets than John Wayne’s, Doris Day’s, and Marilyn Monroe’s combined.
The test was directed by Richard Quine, who would later direct Novak in by Rita Hayworth — the Columbia star whose refusal to work had created the vacancy for which Novak was being considered.
Novak signed with Columbia in 1953, the last of the contract stars.
The impulse to attack Novak’s apparently visibly altered face was awful and instant, followed by a “Leave Kim Novak alone” backlash that was arguably more powerful.