Former actress Kim Novak, who is now 88, is soaking in the wonders of life on a ranch, a place far from the bright lights of Hollywood. Here’s a peek at her life before and after fame.
Former actress Kim Novak captured the world’s attention with her beauty and exceptional performances in films and on television. Her iconic performance in the 1958 film “Vertigo” saw her playing two characters, Judy Barton and Madeleine Elster.
The dazzling star was also a controversial woman. In addition to rumored romance with a Black musician, she experienced sexual assault as a young girl and maltreatment from a former boss.
The movie icon, whose real name is Marilyn Pauline Novak, was born on February 13, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up a strong woman despite living a difficult life. Recently speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Novak said:
“I’ve had a lot of obstacles in my life. And I’m here.”
Novak’s parents were former teachers, but ironically, she had trouble getting along with her elementary and high school teachers. She disliked being told what to do and when to do it.
Novak worked as a model in a local department store after graduating high school. Her job helped her win a scholarship to a modeling school, where she continued modeling part-time.
Later, she worked odd jobs: as an elevator operator, sales clerk, and dental assistant. The jobs never worked out for her, so she went back to modeling.
Novak decided to move to Los Angeles and try her hand at modeling. But instead of a modeling gig, she landed a role as an extra in RKO’s 1953 movie “The French Line.”
A PROMISING CAREER & CONSEQUENCES
Novak debuted her film acting in 1954, starring in the “Picnic” and “The Man With the Golden Arm.” A year later, she won the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
In addition to the sexual abuse she experienced in the past, she said she suffered maltreatment at the hands of the late entertainment mogul Harry Cohn.
The blonde beauty became one of the most sought-after actresses in the entertainment industry. However, along with her meteoric rise to fame, she was dogged by controversies.
In her memoir, “Kim Novak: Her Life and Art, Novak,” she revealed being abused sexually as a teen. In addition to the sexual abuse she experienced in the past, she said she suffered maltreatment at the hands of the late entertainment mogul Harry Cohn.
She described her time with Cohn as “torture” because of how he treated her poorly. She revealed that she slept in the studio and that the company paid her less than her male co-stars.
Besides her alleged cruel experiences with Cohn, who was often called a dictator, Novak allegedly had an interracial romance with Black musician Sammy Davis Jr., an actor and comedian.
At that time, many parts of the United States forbade interracial marriages due to segregation law. In spite of that, Novak was engaged to renowned filmmaker Richard “Dick” Quine, a white man.
Although she was engaged to Quine, alleged rumors spread that Novak was dating Davis, Jr. because they frequently visited each other’s homes. The news reached Cohn, who ordered Novak not to see the musician.
Cohn threatened to harm Davis Jr. if she disobeyed him. Although she clarified that her relationship with the singer was not romantic, Novak said she decided not to see the hitmaker for his own sake.
Novak and Quine’s engagement did not last, as she married actor Richard Johnson in 1965. However, she and her husband divorced the following year.
She retired from acting in 1966 after feeling emotionally exhausted in Hollywood and the harsh glare of the press. She returned to painting, her first love, and lifelong passion.
After leaving the industry, Novak found love with equine veterinarian Robert Malloy, who treated her horses when she resided in a cliffside mansion in Big Sur, California. They tied the knot in 1976.
Novak continued painting after moving to their ranch in Oregon. Sadly, the fire razed their house in 2000, destroying her art pieces and the draft of her autobiography she worked on for years.
Authorities noted that flames occurred after a tree fell across a power line the night before. Novak, Malloy, their dogs, horses, llamas, and a family of orphaned Canada geese survived the incident.
As years passed, Novak faced the most difficult challenge. In 2020, Novak revealed on Facebook that her husband of 44 years passed away with an undisclosed illness. Malloy was 80.
Novak grieved Malloy’s loss and spoke openly about her feelings online. She recounted her memories with her late husband, saying that their relationship was filled with unforgettable adventures.
The former starlet referred to her late husband as her soulmate. After Malloy’s death, Novak said she needed to be satisfied with the memories she shared with her late husband.
Novak now lives peacefully on a ranch that she shared with Malloy in Oregon. Painting landscapes, portraits, and taking care of her animals have sustained her through tough times, including the pandemic.
The legendary movie icon said painting has helped her cope with the painful memories she experienced, including her husband’s death. She recently painted Malloy’s portrait. Novak said:
“I don’t mind having the separation from people. In fact, I’m enjoying it.”
Amid the loss of her husband, Novak finds comfort in her ranch animals and painting beautiful pieces of art. Because she did not want children, she treated her animals as her own kids.
Novak said painting has been helpful to her in dealing with her illness. Recently, she published a book of paintings inspired by the movie “Vertigo” and the #MeToo movement.
In 2018, she displayed her paintings at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. Had she not landed her role in “The French Line,” Novak said she would have started working as an artist long time ago.