Name at birth: Marilyn Pauline Novak
Novak played mysterious Madeleine Elster, the object of Jimmy Stewart's obsession in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. Slim, cool and enigmatic, Novak signed with Columbia Studios in 1954 and became a star while resisting attempts to make her a blonde bombshell in the Marilyn Monroe mold. Her films include The Man With the Golden Arm (1955, with Frank Sinatra), Bell, Book and Candle (1958, with Stewart and Ernie Kovacs) and, with Novak as another obscure object of desire, Of Human Bondage (1964, based on the novel by Somerset Maugham).
Novak battled with Columbia Studios head Harry Cohn over her screen name; Cohn preferred ‘Kit Marlowe’ and the two compromised on Kim Novak. She later played a character named Kit Marlowe on the 1980s TV series Falcon Crest.