The Week (US)

Why Novak fled Hollywood


Kim Novak’s impressive acting career started and ended within a decade, said Simon Hattenston­e in The Guardian (U.K.). At age 25, she starred opposite James Stewart in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Vertigo. Written off at the time as hack work, Vertigo was voted the greatest film ever by the British Film Institute last year. Novak was close with Stewart and later with Frank Sinatra, with whom she starred in Pal Joey and The Man With the Golden Arm. The two became romantical­ly involved. “He was very sexy,” says Novak, 88. “The real Sinatra was a very sensitive person. But he was affected by people putting him on a pedestal, so he let that simple, beautiful side of him go. That’s why I left Hollywood. I needed to save myself.” She’d also struggled with bipolar disorder since her teens and the trauma left by a sexual molestatio­n in her childhood. So Novak rented a van and left California for Oregon, where she’s become a veterinari­an’s assistant and painter. In 2014, she briefly returned to the spotlight to present an award at the Oscars, and got fat injections in her face before the show. Donald Trump tweeted, “Kim should sue her plastic surgeon!” The vicious reaction reminded her why she’d left Hollywood in the first place. “I’m much too vulnerable for this town,” she says.

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