Kim Novak, the daughter of a railroad clerk and a former teacher, got her start as a teen fashion model. She later landed a contract to tour the country for a refrigerator company as Miss Deepfreeze. While in Los Angeles, she caught the eye of a talent scout from Columbia Pictures, who signed her to a six month contract. (It was the studio that had her change her first name to Kim).
She appeared in a series of bit parts but had her breakthrough in the film “Picnic” (1955) playing star William Holden’s love interest. The role won her a Golden Globe for most promising newcomer. She followed that film with an appearance opposite Frank Sinatra in Otto Preminger’s “The Man With the Golden Arm.”
Novak’s highest-profile performance was as the mysterious blond femme fatale in Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense classic, “Vertigo” (1958). Though it’s regarded as one of Hitchcock’s greatest films today, at the time of its release, the film was met with mixed reviews and tepid box office. Hitchcock later revealed it was his personal favorite among his films.
In 1965, after a lackluster series of roles and an ill-fated foray into producing the 1962 comedy flop “Boys’ Night Out,” Novak took her first break from acting. She made a comeback in 1968 in the mystery thriller “The Legend of Lylah Clare,” which also flopped at the box office. She continued to appear sporadically in film and TV, including a season-long run on the prime time soap “Falcon Crest” in 1986, before her official retirement in 1991.
Several of her scenes were cut from her final film, “Liebstraum,” after battles with director Mike Figgis.
Novak was married for a little over a year in 1965 to English actor Richard Johnson. She was remarried in 1976 to Dr. Robert Malloy, a veterinarian. She has two stepchildren from Malloy’s previous marriage. The couple lives on a ranch in Oregon where they raise horses and llamas. Novak has also done oil painting since her retirement from acting.
In 2006, she was seriously injured following a horseback riding accident, but has fully recovered.