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Kim Novak


drednm
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Thanks for the link to an interesting article.  I was glad to see that Novak's favorite film was Middle of the Night, which I've always thought was one of the absolutely best portrayals of the complications of a May-September relationship ever set to film, especially compared to fluff like Love in the Afternoon or Funny Face. Novak was superb in her role as a frankly neurotic young woman who's entering into a relationship that will inevitably take a long time to sort out.   Without that touch of neurosis and insecurity, which Novak played to perfection, the movie would have been little more than just one more generic Hollywood fantasy.

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I'm watching Middle of the Night right now and I think it agree. Novak and March are excellent in this drama. Funny how her career went bad so fast after the Columbia years. Although I like several of her 60s films, they apparently didn't do well at the box office, but I wonder if that's really true. I couldn't find actual numbers for those films.

 

 

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Robert was so kind in presenting her at the last TCM event and everyone adored her with their kind reception expressing their love and how they missed her but she came off as a nervous wreck.  It appeared she had extensive plastic surgery work which doesn't suit her well.  My advice to her is enjoy her home and family with her memories and not come back.  Should she decide to again I recommend public service announcements for charity or animal rights groups.  Relax Kim we'll always love you.

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You have to remember, she's in her 80s.

 

I'm just really surprised at how good she really was in her 50s and 60s films. Several Oscar caliber performances, but Columbia probably didn't promote her enough as an actress.

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Robert was so kind in presenting her at the last TCM event and everyone adored her with their kind reception expressing their love and how they missed her but she came off as a nervous wreck.  It appeared she had extensive plastic surgery work which doesn't suit her well.  My advice to her is enjoy her home and family with her memories and not come back.  Should she decide to again I recommend public service announcements for charity or animal rights groups.  Relax Kim we'll always love you.

Before you decide to get extensive facial plastic surgery, take a deep breath, and say "Kim Novak, Michael Jackson".

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I first saw Kim Novak in a film a couple years ago when I saw Picnic.  Prior to that, while I had heard of Novak, I had never seen any of her movies.  I unfairly assumed she was Columbia's answer to Marilyn Monroe--which in my experience in seeing the other studios' "Marilyn Monroes" (Jayne Mansfield, for example) never goes well, and as a result, wasn't going out of my way to seek Novak out.  It was only until recently that I learned that Novak was actually hired by Harry Cohn to replace Rita Hayworth, due to Hayworth's behavior.  Novak was going to be used by Cohn as a threat against Hayworth. 

 

A couple years ago, TCM featured Novak as their Star of the Month.  A month or so prior to that, I had watched Picnic for the first time, because I'm a big fan of William Holden.  In the beginning of the film, I found Novak to be a bit stiff.  She delivered her lines a bit wooden, I felt.  However, with each successive scene, I found that she was growing on me.  While she was definitely not as strong an actor as co-stars Holden, Rosalind Russell and Susan Strasberg, I really liked her performance and was sympathetic to her desire to be seen as something more than just a pretty face--which I feel is an issue that Novak herself dealt with in her career.

 

It seems that many actors who are extraordinarily attractive (Novak, Hayworth, Errol Flynn, Monroe, to name a few) fight to be seen as someone capable of doing more than just being "pretty."  They want to take on more difficult, challenging parts--however, it was their looks that brought the audiences.  Studios didn't want to risk losing profits because their moneymaker actor wants a more difficult part--they want a surefire way to make a buck. 

 

With Novak, while she was no Bette Davis or Ingrid Bergman by any means, I thought she proved herself a very capable actress when given a chance.  I really liked her in The Man With the Golden Arm and Bell, Book and Candle.  I recently just watched her in Jeanne Eagles, and I thought she was very good.  A couple scenes I thought were a little over the top, but I thought Novak delivered the dramatic material very well. 

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I would say that Speed's observations  are right on the money.  Harry Cohn saw early 20's Kim as a successor to Rita Hayworth ( who  was after all getting to be in her mid 30's and too "old" ) Kim Novak (her real first  name was Marilyn) was initially bought on primarily as "eye candy" and  she could have  settled for being just that but, to her credit, she took acting seriously and wanted to take on the roles that could establish herself as a legitimate actress. I think she accomplished that to a considerable degree. Maybe Kim was never destined to win an academy award but given the right material she could do a fine job.  The vulnerability   and insecurity she usually shows on screen works in her favor when the part calls for those characteristics.  PICNIC, VERTIGO, MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, and other films were ideal for Kim to do. My personal favorite film of hers is BELL BOOK AND CANDLE,  I  really like her "look" in that film and she does very well as the cool, somewhat stoic character in  the beginning and then as the very vulnerable girl (after losing her witch powers) at the end. Kim and James Stewart get to play straight man while Lemmon, Kovacs, and Elsa Lanchester provide the comedy.  I believe that in any of her films Kim needed a strong director's hand to guide her.  In later films (60's on) she didn't get that so much and most of the roles didn't suit her quite so well.  I will always admire Kim Novak for taking care of herself first and getting out of the Hollywood rat race that consumed so many others like Marilyn Monroe.   Kim can be proud of most of her work (we will leave out some of the later films) and she should know she has a lot of fans out there, like me.

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It's funny how stars like Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable are usually thought of as 40s stars, as if their careers ended in 1950. Both ladies continued their film careers well into the 1950s and were still box-office draws. Grable was still in the top 10 lists up through 1953 with How to Marry a Millionaire while Hayworth gave one of her best performances in the 1959 film The Story on Page One when she was 40ish.

 

Novak's career might have been entirely different if she had had one big hit in the early 60s.

 

 

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I first saw Kim Novak in a film a couple years ago when I saw Picnic.  Prior to that, while I had heard of Novak, I had never seen any of her movies.  I unfairly assumed she was Columbia's answer to Marilyn Monroe--which in my experience in seeing the other studios' "Marilyn Monroes" (Jayne Mansfield, for example) never goes well, and as a result, wasn't going out of my way to seek Novak out.  It was only until recently that I learned that Novak was actually hired by Harry Cohn to replace Rita Hayworth, due to Hayworth's behavior.  Novak was going to be used by Cohn as a threat against Hayworth. 

 

A couple years ago, TCM featured Novak as their Star of the Month.  A month or so prior to that, I had watched Picnic for the first time, because I'm a big fan of William Holden.  In the beginning of the film, I found Novak to be a bit stiff.  She delivered her lines a bit wooden, I felt.  However, with each successive scene, I found that she was growing on me.  While she was definitely not as strong an actor as co-stars Holden, Rosalind Russell and Susan Strasberg, I really liked her performance and was sympathetic to her desire to be seen as something more than just a pretty face--which I feel is an issue that Novak herself dealt with in her career.

 

It seems that many actors who are extraordinarily attractive (Novak, Hayworth, Errol Flynn, Monroe, to name a few) fight to be seen as someone capable of doing more than just being "pretty."  They want to take on more difficult, challenging parts--however, it was their looks that brought the audiences.  Studios didn't want to risk losing profits because their moneymaker actor wants a more difficult part--they want a surefire way to make a buck. 

 

With Novak, while she was no Bette Davis or Ingrid Bergman by any means, I thought she proved herself a very capable actress when given a chance.  I really liked her in The Man With the Golden Arm and Bell, Book and Candle.  I recently just watched her in Jeanne Eagles, and I thought she was very good.  A couple scenes I thought were a little over the top, but I thought Novak delivered the dramatic material very well. 

Susan Strasberg was a strong actor? Hardly.  Can you say "nepotism"?

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Susan Strasberg was a strong actor? Hardly.  Can you say "nepotism"?

Susan Strasberg's performances in Kapo and Scream of Fear alone put a lie to that assertion.  And here's the New York Times  review of the original stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank:

 

Theatre: 'The Diary of Anne Frank'

By BROOKS ATKINSON  October 6, 1955

 

They have made a lovely, tender drama out of "The Diary of Anne Frank," which opened at the Cort last evening. They have treated it with admiration and respect.

 

"They" are Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, who wrote the dramatization; Garson Kanin, who directed; Boris Aronson, who designed the setting, and a remarkable cast in which Joseph Schildkraut is the star. Strange how the shining spirit of a young girl now dead can filter down through the years and inspire a group of theatrical professionals in a foreign land.

 

Among them, not the least and perhaps the finest is Susan Strasberg, who plays the part of Anne. Although Miss Strasberg once appeared at the Theatre de Lys, this is her official Broadway debut, and it is worth particular notice. She is a slender, enchanting young lady with a heart-shaped face, a pair of burning eyes and the soul of an actress.

 

By some magic that cannot be explained, she has caught the whole character of Anne in a flowing, spontaneous, radiant performance. Anne is a girl--not the stage image of a girl--but a capricious, quick-tempered, loving maiden whose imagination is always running ahead of her experience. Whether that is Anne or Miss Strasberg it is hard to say at the moment, for they are blended into one being. It looks artless because Miss Strasberg has created it with so much purity from within....

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Susan Strasberg's performances in Kapo and Scream of Fear alone put a lie to that assertion.  And here's the New York Times  review of the original stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank:

 

Theatre: 'The Diary of Anne Frank'

By BROOKS ATKINSON  October 6, 1955

 

They have made a lovely, tender drama out of "The Diary of Anne Frank," which opened at the Cort last evening. They have treated it with admiration and respect.

 

"They" are Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, who wrote the dramatization; Garson Kanin, who directed; Boris Aronson, who designed the setting, and a remarkable cast in which Joseph Schildkraut is the star. Strange how the shining spirit of a young girl now dead can filter down through the years and inspire a group of theatrical professionals in a foreign land.

 

Among them, not the least and perhaps the finest is Susan Strasberg, who plays the part of Anne. Although Miss Strasberg once appeared at the Theatre de Lys, this is her official Broadway debut, and it is worth particular notice. She is a slender, enchanting young lady with a heart-shaped face, a pair of burning eyes and the soul of an actress.

 

By some magic that cannot be explained, she has caught the whole character of Anne in a flowing, spontaneous, radiant performance. Anne is a girl--not the stage image of a girl--but a capricious, quick-tempered, loving maiden whose imagination is always running ahead of her experience. Whether that is Anne or Miss Strasberg it is hard to say at the moment, for they are blended into one being. It looks artless because Miss Strasberg has created it with so much purity from within....

She was just awful in STAGE STRUCK.

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She was just awful in STAGE STRUCK.

 

Apparently she wasn't the only one.  It sounds as if unlike Anne Frank, Kapo and Scream of Fear, there wasn't much to work with.

 

Stage Struck (1957)

A Tale of the Theatre Retold; ' Stage Struck' Bows at the Normandie

By A. H. WEILER

Published: April 23, 1958

 

THE curtain that rang up last night at the Normandie not only revealed a film troupe that was "Stage Struck" but also proved again that there is no rational argument to explode the star dust and indefinable appeal that is the mystery called the theatre. But the moviemakers who here have restaged with reverence Zoe Akins' play and film "Morning Glory" have not come up with a solution to an enigma or a work that is strikingly inspirational. They obviously are devoted people, whose emotions, unfortunately, rarely move a viewer.

 

Perhaps Miss Akins's story has been told too often. The fact is that the bare bones of the plot—the one dealing with a dewy-eyed, dedicated youngster who steps in for the star at the last moment and succeeds brilliantly—do not constitute a great revelation in a sophisticated age. The director, scenarists and cast, however, are serious about their assignments.

 

They have searched out and photographed in vivid and lovely color nearly every nook and cranny connected with the theatre—from poetry-filled Greenwich Village bistros to swank penthouses, from rehearsal calls on bare stages to 'glamorous, tense first nights, from the fascinating mechanics of backstage operations to the hysteria indigenous to producers' offices and dressing rooms.

Perhaps, too, we were all more starry-eyed a quarter of a century ago when Katharine Hepburn, Adolpee Menjou and company first put the trials of Eva Lovelace, née Gertrude Lengenfeider, on public view. These are genuinely bitter-sweet, if somewhat fading, memories. Now, however, the tribulations of bur tyro, whose brash visions of stardom are almost too quickly realized, seem unreal and somewhat fabricated despite the authenticity and tender professionalism lavished on this project.

 

Director Sidney Lumet, the young man who won his professional spurs with éclat with "12 Angry Men," is no flash in the pan. In shooting the film here in its entirety he and his cinematographers have captured the singular beauties of a veritable Baghdad-on-the-Hudson. Minetta Lane in the Village at dawn; the true colors and some of the sleaziness of Times Square in the glare of thousands of neon lights and the raucousness of its population; Central Park in a snowstorm are shining facets that point up the singular character of Our Town.

 

The dialogue of Ruth and Augustus Goetz has caught the character of theatre people. The brittle lines, the constant bussing, the shop talk should have the ring of reality even for an out-of-towner. And certain vignettes come close to the core of the mystery. We have in mind for example, a reading of one of Juliet's great speeches which, while embarrassing at first, turns into a truly heartfelt rendition, or the blinding view of the theatre the petrified young star gets as the curtain first goes up.

 

Susan Strasberg, who already has the memorable "Anne Frank" role on stage and the movies "Picnic' and "The Cobweb" behind her, is competent as the determined Eva Lovelace. She is petite and fragile and sometimes expressive but strangely pallid in a role that would seem to call for fire, not mere smoldering. There is no doubt that she is mastering the requisites of fine acting in the aforementioned Juliet speech as well as in some scenes with the other principals. The girl, in short, who finally gives up her adoration for the producer for love of the theatre, is a poignant but somewhat shadowy creature.

 

Henry Fonda is largely a placid type as the producer who discovers his heart can be reached by love as well as the theatre. Christopher Plummer, who is making his film debut as the playwright whose love she finally spurns, is restrained but effective. Joan Greenwood, as the temperamental star she replaces, is explosively emotional in her exit, and Herbert Marshall does well as the experienced, aging actor who gives the newcomer both affection and assistance.

 

They, as well as their supervisors, wear their hearts on their sleeves. It makes a nice show even if it is not stirring.

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Apparently she wasn't the only one.  It sounds as if unlike Anne Frank, Kapo and Scream of Fear, there wasn't much to work with.

 

Stage Struck (1957)

A Tale of the Theatre Retold; ' Stage Struck' Bows at the Normandie

By A. H. WEILER

Published: April 23, 1958

 

THE curtain that rang up last night at the Normandie not only revealed a film troupe that was "Stage Struck" but also proved again that there is no rational argument to explode the star dust and indefinable appeal that is the mystery called the theatre. But the moviemakers who here have restaged with reverence Zoe Akins' play and film "Morning Glory" have not come up with a solution to an enigma or a work that is strikingly inspirational. They obviously are devoted people, whose emotions, unfortunately, rarely move a viewer.

 

Perhaps Miss Akins's story has been told too often. The fact is that the bare bones of the plot—the one dealing with a dewy-eyed, dedicated youngster who steps in for the star at the last moment and succeeds brilliantly—do not constitute a great revelation in a sophisticated age. The director, scenarists and cast, however, are serious about their assignments.

 

They have searched out and photographed in vivid and lovely color nearly every nook and cranny connected with the theatre—from poetry-filled Greenwich Village bistros to swank penthouses, from rehearsal calls on bare stages to 'glamorous, tense first nights, from the fascinating mechanics of backstage operations to the hysteria indigenous to producers' offices and dressing rooms.

Perhaps, too, we were all more starry-eyed a quarter of a century ago when Katharine Hepburn, Adolpee Menjou and company first put the trials of Eva Lovelace, née Gertrude Lengenfeider, on public view. These are genuinely bitter-sweet, if somewhat fading, memories. Now, however, the tribulations of bur tyro, whose brash visions of stardom are almost too quickly realized, seem unreal and somewhat fabricated despite the authenticity and tender professionalism lavished on this project.

 

Director Sidney Lumet, the young man who won his professional spurs with éclat with "12 Angry Men," is no flash in the pan. In shooting the film here in its entirety he and his cinematographers have captured the singular beauties of a veritable Baghdad-on-the-Hudson. Minetta Lane in the Village at dawn; the true colors and some of the sleaziness of Times Square in the glare of thousands of neon lights and the raucousness of its population; Central Park in a snowstorm are shining facets that point up the singular character of Our Town.

 

The dialogue of Ruth and Augustus Goetz has caught the character of theatre people. The brittle lines, the constant bussing, the shop talk should have the ring of reality even for an out-of-towner. And certain vignettes come close to the core of the mystery. We have in mind for example, a reading of one of Juliet's great speeches which, while embarrassing at first, turns into a truly heartfelt rendition, or the blinding view of the theatre the petrified young star gets as the curtain first goes up.

 

Susan Strasberg, who already has the memorable "Anne Frank" role on stage and the movies "Picnic' and "The Cobweb" behind her, is competent as the determined Eva Lovelace. She is petite and fragile and sometimes expressive but strangely pallid in a role that would seem to call for fire, not mere smoldering. There is no doubt that she is mastering the requisites of fine acting in the aforementioned Juliet speech as well as in some scenes with the other principals. The girl, in short, who finally gives up her adoration for the producer for love of the theatre, is a poignant but somewhat shadowy creature.

 

Henry Fonda is largely a placid type as the producer who discovers his heart can be reached by love as well as the theatre. Christopher Plummer, who is making his film debut as the playwright whose love she finally spurns, is restrained but effective. Joan Greenwood, as the temperamental star she replaces, is explosively emotional in her exit, and Herbert Marshall does well as the experienced, aging actor who gives the newcomer both affection and assistance.

 

They, as well as their supervisors, wear their hearts on their sleeves. It makes a nice show even if it is not stirring.

I never heard of A.H. Weiler. Was he Bosley Crowther's backup at the Times?

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  • 2 months later...

Kim Novak looks set to introduce Vertigo (1956) at the Toronto Film Festival on September 20.  It is to be at the Roy Thomson Hall and will feature a live performance of Bernard Herrmann's score by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  And it is free.

 

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Susan Strasberg's performances in Kapo and Scream of Fear alone put a lie to that assertion.  And here's the New York Times  review of the original stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank:

 

Theatre: 'The Diary of Anne Frank'

By BROOKS ATKINSON  October 6, 1955

 

They have made a lovely, tender drama out of "The Diary of Anne Frank," which opened at the Cort last evening. They have treated it with admiration and respect.

 

"They" are Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, who wrote the dramatization; Garson Kanin, who directed; Boris Aronson, who designed the setting, and a remarkable cast in which Joseph Schildkraut is the star. Strange how the shining spirit of a young girl now dead can filter down through the years and inspire a group of theatrical professionals in a foreign land.

 

Among them, not the least and perhaps the finest is Susan Strasberg, who plays the part of Anne. Although Miss Strasberg once appeared at the Theatre de Lys, this is her official Broadway debut, and it is worth particular notice. She is a slender, enchanting young lady with a heart-shaped face, a pair of burning eyes and the soul of an actress.

 

By some magic that cannot be explained, she has caught the whole character of Anne in a flowing, spontaneous, radiant performance. Anne is a girl--not the stage image of a girl--but a capricious, quick-tempered, loving maiden whose imagination is always running ahead of her experience. Whether that is Anne or Miss Strasberg it is hard to say at the moment, for they are blended into one being. It looks artless because Miss Strasberg has created it with so much purity from within....

 

I wish that Susan Strasberg had been able to reprise her role as Anne Frank in the movie adaptation of the play.

Millie Perkins is not very good in the role. She always seems to be acting.

 

This excerpt from the review of the play speaks volumes about Susan Strasberg's talent and skill: 

 

"By some magic that cannot be explained, she has caught the whole character of Anne in a flowing, spontaneous, radiant performance. Anne is a girl--not the stage image of a girl--but a capricious, quick-tempered, loving maiden whose imagination is always running ahead of her experience. Whether that is Anne or Miss Strasberg it is hard to say at the moment, for they are blended into one being. It looks artless because Miss Strasberg has created it with so much purity from within."

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Susan Strasberg was pretty good (and sexy) in a little Canadian film called In Praise of Older Women (1978).  It starred a young Tom Berenger and has Karen Black in it too.

Too bad TCM did not do something for Karen Black when she passed away.

 

How this got in a Kim Novak thread, I'm not sure, but hey ...

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Susan Strasberg was pretty good (and sexy) in a little Canadian film called In Praise of Older Women (1978).  It starred a young Tom Berenger and has Karen Black in it too.

Too bad TCM did not do something for Karen Black when she passed away.

 

How this got in a Kim Novak thread, I'm not sure, but hey ...

 

Yes, Karen Black deserved a full tribute.

 

TCM did show one Karen Black movie on the day they did their "In Memoriam" tribute to actors who had died during the year.

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I think in honor of Labor Day tomorrow, I'm going to watch Picnic starring Novak and William Holden.  Like I said a few months ago when I initially commented on this thread, I thought that Novak seemed somewhat wooden in the opening scenes of the film, but in later scenes, she seems more at ease.  I still have that impression each time I watch the film.  I think Picnic was made at the beginning of her career, maybe her third or fourth film, so she's probably still learning her craft.  Her role in Picnic was also a leading role, which I'm not sure if she had prior. 

 

While Novak can seem stiff in some of her roles, she grows on me.  Perhaps it's her slight sultriness, or beauty or something, but she's interesting to me.  She comes across as very beautiful and sexy, but also with a vulnerable side.  I like that she makes her characters are multi-faceted.  It's a shame that she didn't achieve huge stardom, a la Marilyn Monroe, but maybe it's just as well.

 

I agree with the poster who said that it was good that Novak got out of Hollywood to protect her psyche.  It sounds like she had a lot of problems recovering after all the cruel comments she received when she appeared at the Academy Awards a couple years ago.  She's been through a lot in her life (breast cancer, her house burning down, a serious horse riding accident) and she's still persevering and living her life.  I say kudos to her.  She also retired to a ranch in Southern Oregon, so it's exciting to be able to say that Kim Novak lives about 4 hours away from me :-)

 

It looks like Phffft! and Bell Book and Candle are set to air within the next couple of weeks.  I enjoyed both of these films very much and look forward to seeing more of Novak's work on TCM.

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Today's Parade magazine had a piece on how several current celebrities-Lady Gaga, Kelly Osborne, Raven Symone-are into the new lavender-grey hair color craze.  I immediately thought of Kim who was famous for using a lavender rinse on her ash-blonde hair.  I liked her best in the red-blonde shade she had in Picnic but being a once-upon-a-time redhead I'm probably prejudiced.  Old is again new.  

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Today's Parade magazine had a piece on how several current celebrities-Lady Gaga, Kelly Osborne, Raven Symone-are into the new lavender-grey hair color craze.  I immediately thought of Kim who was famous for using a lavender rinse on her ash-blonde hair.  I liked her best in the red-blonde shade she had in Picnic but being a once-upon-a-time redhead I'm probably prejudiced.  Old is again new.  

Hmm.  I didn't know that Novak used a lavender rinse.  That's interesting. 

 

Her hair in Picnic was apparently a wig that Novak loathed.  I thought the color looked very nice on her.  She looked great as a redhead.

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Hmm.  I didn't know that Novak used a lavender rinse.  That's interesting.

 

Funny you should say that, but not having been a big moviegoer when Novak was in her prime, the ONLY thing I knew about her at the time was that she was somehow associated with "lavender", sort of like the only thing I knew about Zachary Taylor was that he was overly fond of cherries and ice cold milk.  Other than that, she was just another movie star name I'd hear about but never paid any attention to, although 50-60 years later she may be my favorite actress from that period.

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