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Headed For The Altar?—Kim Novak

An unkind reporter has quipped that Kim Novak “has been accused of everything—except being an actress. Her love affairs get better reviews than her acting.”

It’s true that Kim’s mad .romances with such suave, hand-kissing, enormously wealthy Romeos as the Italian tomato king, “Count” Mario Bandini, South American playboy “Baby” Pignatari, Dominican Republic’s General Rafael Trujillo, Jr., and Aly Khan, have made international headlines.

But when, and if, the girl who leapt from rags to riches marries the man of her heart, quiet, gentlemanly, far-from-rich director Richard Quine, there will be no jealous pangs from such playgirls as Zsa Zsa Gabor or Linda Christian. This hoped-for-marriage, Kim’s friends believe, is just what the fluorescent blonde really needs. Quine is a highly-talented, sensitive and creative man who is devoted to her not because she is a glamourous movie star or can advance his career, but for herself alone. It’s no quickie romance, either, for Richard was Kim’s director on her first film in 1954. But then he was married and Kim was in love with her long-time suitor, theater-owner Mac Krim.



The flamboyant romances of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor girl have had frequent hints of eye-popping scandal. Poor Kim. Even in her association with Dick Quine there have be a nasty column digs.

A New York gossip-columnist tattled in 1958: “Kim’s current flame, Richard Quine, is a famous director who’s having marital troubles, and Kim’s certainly not helping this fellow and his wife to patch up their difficulties. In fact, every time the director’s wife sees the color lavender (or even hears the word), she sees red.” And another columnist cat-chatted more recently, “Dick got a divorce so he and Kim could wed but they’re both still single. She went through a rather rough time in her personal life when Dick Quine, with whom she is deeply in love, was in the process of divorcing his wife and at the same time having doubts as to whether or not Kim would really love him when he was finally available. His doubts were logical since Kim’s history is to love best what she can’t have. It is the race that Kim enjoys, not the winning of it.”



With fire in her lovely amber eyes, Kim snapped back at the insinuations. “I was not responsible for the dissent in the Richard Quine household. These irresponsible remarks hurt because his friendship means a great deal to me. He helped me more than I can say when I first started in pictures. I was so frightened then, with no acting experience. Vl always be grateful to him because don’t think anybody would have noticed me if he hadn’t done such a fine job on my first picture. When he directed me later in ‘Bell, Book And Candle’, I was happier about that performance than anything up to that time. All along he’s given me advice and encouragement, a real friend, one I can trust.” And her eyes clouded over as she pleaded, “Why won’t people believe this?”






Close friends do believe it and they also predict that the so-many-times-in-love screen goddess and the tall, serious exactor will tie the nuptial knot sometime in 1960. In fact, they expected a marriage immediately after his divorce was final last July 26, a year after it was filed. It was obvious that they were in love as they dined or danced together or when Kim, a guest at Quine’s house at Malibu, spent hours walking on the beach with him engrossed in conversation. Kim was oblivious of the curious neighbors who passed the house hoping for a glimpse of the blonde sex-pot who didn’t look very sexy in a rumpled wind-breaker, blue jeans and scuffed moccasins, her pale face without make-up. “Kim’s eyes fascinate me,” said an actress who was a guest at a Sunday barbecue at the Quine cottage. “Normally they’re hazel, but when she’s angry they flare into a blazing yellow. When she’s happy they are a soft, catlike green. It was easy to see that she was in love with Dick because her beautiful eyes were as emerald green as the sea.”



Even so, capricious Kim was soon off to France for the Cannes Film Festival, frolicking around Europe garnering her usual headlines, receiving the candlelight and champagne treatment once again from Mario Bandini in Rome and Aly Khan at his fabulous French chateau. In Cannes, she was photographed nuzzling up to heart-breaker Cary Grant as they danced the nights away. And while they danced, Cary kept nibbling her ear. Apparently there was no romance because Cary remarked later, a bit ungraciously: “I love to dance. Kim was a convenient dancing partner.”

For Kim all this was apparently just good clean fun (“I like the way men kiss hands in Europe . . . in fact, I love it”) and marvelous publicity, besides. For on her return she went right back to the waiting arms of Dick Quine.






“I believe,” said a friend of Kim’s, “that she’s wise not to have rushed into marriage with Dick last summer after his divorce. It’s a good omen for the success of any marriage, this one in particular. Kim and Dick need time to work out the problems relative to their work which, by its nature, separates them for months at a time and because Kim, as a devout Catholic, must make a lasting marriage. Those of us who saw a more confident, radiant Kim Novak, gorgeous in white chiffon, as Dick’s starry-eyed dancing partner New Year’s Eve at the Lee Strasbergs’ party, know this is the ‘real thing’ for both.”

But what does Kim herself have to say about an approaching marriage?

She smiles with her best Mona Lisa-like slow smile and says merely, “Dick and I have the greatest respect for each other. As to marriage, that is something I can’t commit myself on one way or the other. But I will say that he has helped me tremendously. He’s been a guiding friend all through my career. He gave me a good luck charm on that first picture we made and I’ve never done one since without wearing it.”



Nor will the tall, boyish Dick Quine go any further than, “We’re just good friends. We like working together as actress and director and we like being together occasionally after work.” Quine is the reserved type who wouldn’t be in character if he wore his heart on his sleeve. But not long ago Kim came up with a highly surprising answer when she was asked why, as a good Catholic, she dated men who had been married. “Never to my knowledge have I dated a man who’s been divorced,” she answered blandly! Conveniently she must have forgotten that

Dick Quine, Frank Sinatra, John Ireland, Trujillo, Jeff Chandler, Pignatari, Cary Grant and Aly Khan have all been. divorced, most of them more than once.

There is indeed speculation that the question of-divorce has been a reason behind the delayed marriage of Kim and Dick, who has been himself twice divorced. Just how Kim will gain the blessing of her church isn’t known but she may be trying to resolve this problem.






At 27, the ethereally lovely screen goddess is definitely ready for marriage and with candid forthrightness she admitted as much. “My parents,” she said some time ago, “think I’m getting to be an old maid. They’d like to see me settled down with a husband and children. Before I came to Hollywood all I thought about was marriage. And then all this happened”—she waved at the cluttered studio set—“to change my goal. I wanted most of all to learn to be a really good actress. It was hard to sit back and let well enough alone. If you don’t close the door and give full attention too one thing, you can really louse up everything.”



That was a few years ago, and today Kim has matured both as an actress and as a woman. She’s developed a serious interest in reading, art and music. Her years of immature, girlish crushes, of being in love with love, are at an end. She has a new confidence—in her acting, in her place in the star firmament, above all, in herself. To prove ‘it she said recently in her soft, excited, breathy way, “There was a time—a couple of years ago, maybe more—when I was really pushing. Now I enjoy life more because I know that a career can’t be the only thing in life. I’d like to be fulfilled as a woman; to marry and have children. The gossip writers have had me tied up with every man I ever heard of. That’s what I get for being single so long. Maybe I should have married when I first came into pictures. They let married women alone,” she smiled, then grew serious again. “I look for much more in a man than I did formerly when all I wanted was a good companion and a father-type counselor. I need a fine, sensitive man who challenges my mind, and one whom I can respect. I want someone who respects me and listens to me—to what I have to say. Somewhere there must be such a man.”



There is. And Kim has found him in Dick Quine.

Quine’s first marriage was a tragic one. In 1942 he married the pretty starlet Susan Peters and two years later she was paralyzed from the waist down following a hunting accident. Dick cared for her tenderly and they adopted a son, Timothy. When Susan sued for divorce after six years of marriage, friends were mystified. It was indeed a strange divorce for the decree wasn’t made final until 1951. The following year when Susan died, Dick took Timothy, now 14, to live with him.



Seven years ago Dick married Barbara, a granddaughter of Francis X. Bushman, silent screen star. They have two children, Katherine Corey, 4, and Victoria Elizabeth, 2. “Barbara and I have been on each other’s nerves,” Dick told the press in May, 1958. I guess I’ve been working too hard. We’ve agreed on a six-weeks legal separation.” When that didn’t work out Mrs. Quine sued for divorce, and has the youngsters with her.

“In a certain sense,” says an astute observor, “Quine is Kim’s ‘Pygmalion’ though he had assistance, of course, with his ‘Galatea’. Like Professor Henry Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’ who molds the flower girl Eliza into an aristocrat, Dick Quine’s great desire is to see Kim develop into a truly fine actress.



“Dick met her shortly after she first showed up in Hollywood as a model for Thor washing machines and got her first movie job as a dress extra in Jane Russell’s picture, ‘The French Line’. When she was brought to Columbia studios by an agent, Quine was asked to direct Kim’s first test. A frightened kid from Chicago’s crowded West Side, who, as someone remarked, had ‘never even read the funnies out loud,’ Kim couldn’t be heard, had great difficulty speaking a line and handling a tea cup at the same time. Dick, a patient and conscientious man, simplified the action for her, helped her get a starring role right off because he believed she had possibilities. The camera believed it too, fell in love with her rare combination of classical Slavic beauty and lush, sensual appeal.”



Quine himself has explained, “Kim—she was Marilyn Novak then—definitely had something. In that first test she was terribly bad in one scene and terribly good in another. She was desperately anxious then, a girl who telephoned me in the middle of the night throughout the picture to agonize over the next day’s scenes. After a hasty coaching, she’d been costarred with Fred MacMurray in her first picture, “Pushover’. She was so sensitive that merely having to slap Fred MacMurray took her an entire morning to get on film. She said tearfully that she just could. not bring herself to hit anyone. I pleaded and begged and cajoled. ‘Hit me good,’ Fred begged. After she did, she ran to her dressing room weeping and refused lunch. She spent a good deal of time in tears. And she told me that night after night she sat silently in a church praying that she’d get through the next day.”



Kim made it all right, for less than two years later she was named the Number One box-office attraction in the nation. As she soared from obscurity to fame, always under tremendous self-discipline, long hours of study and studio pressures, it’s no wonder that the superlatively beautiful actress began to show an unpretty side. It’s no wonder, too, that she landed in the hospital frequently suffering from exhaustion and emotional storms.

Directors became highly vocal when she began “directing” them, kept cast and crew waiting while she perfected her make-up and hair, worked with her drama coach on her lines. “We didn’t get along,” said director George Sidney succinctly after the non-stop state of war between him and Kim during “Jeanne Eagels”. “Take that damn mirror away from her,” yelled exasperated Josh Logan during the making of “Picnic”. Even the suave Alfred Hitchcock felt the power of Kim’s tantrums in “Vertigo”. “Oh,” he explained, airily, “we had our arguments: I didn’t particularly care for her insistence on all the comforts of home on a movie set. A studio is a place to work.” Nor did he care for the heavy eye make-up she always wore. It’s reported that every morning he asked her to remove it but bit by bit it reappeared during the day.



And co-stars, too, from the late Ty Power to Kirk Douglas have had their running feuds with the luscious blonde with the hauntingly sad eyes. Kirk and Kim’s feud exploded on the set of their newest film, “Strangers When We Meet”, directed by Quine. It was rumored that the trouble began when filming was slowed down by Kim’s insistence on working on each scene for hours until she felt it was right for her and on her attempts to direct Kirk’s scenes. He stomped off the set in a big fat rage several times, while she broke into hysterical tears. It was said that Kirk would prefer a tin cup and pencils to making another film with her.



But Kirk gallantly refuted this, explaining, “Behind all that sexy glamour is a girl with a strong urge to be a fine actress. I like a fighter; I’m a fighter myself. Any disagreements Kim and I had were only in the interest of making the picture better. I like this kind of fighting; I like Kim. And I hope we’ll make another picture together.” Later, guests were bug-eyed at a big fancy party Kirk and his wife gave, to see Kim gaily kiss her former adversary and float by in a dreamy waltz with him.

Evidently the tears and traumas attendant on the making of “Strangers When We Meet” did not cool the togetherness of actress and director, for Quine gifted Kim with a handsome white sports car and she presented him with equally handsome gold cuff-links.

There are those who feel Dick Quine has reason to be worried about whether he and Kim will be able to adjust to married life. Her unpredictable behavior on the set of her last film caused one columnist to raise a warning finger: “Better be careful, Kim. Dick, the man you may marry, is getting a long look at a Kim Novak he hasn’t met before, and your teary tantrums have his eyebrows up.”



But a friend of Quine’s doesn’t believe this. “Dick,” he says, “understands Kim’s acting problems. Professionally, he’s one of the few directors who gets on well with perfectionist Kim because he knows how to handle her. ‘Suggest, please suggest,’ Kim begs directors, ‘but never ore me.’ And Dick is so perceptive that he is able to bolster her lagging self-confidence. He knows, too, that an actress by her very nature, is not a normal, well-adjusted individual and he makes allowances. On and off the set Dick takes no nonsense, though, from the highly explosive Kim—he’s too dedicated a director to let her get too far out of line. In this regard he’s a strong character like Kim’s father. And she likes that. She’s been greatly enriched by his devotion. His innate awareness of acting techniques, his ability to get a performance from her, have broadened her scope. In ‘Middle Of The Night’ for the first time critics felt she demonstrated this and she does it again as the straying housewife in ‘Strangers’.



“But Dick Quine is a man and has the normal quota of jealousy. It’s been rumored that this has led to quarrels between them. For instance, when Kim was in New York making ‘Middle Of The Night’ she dated many other men, principally Dr. Ernest Wynder. Evidently she was testing her feelings for Dick. He couldn’t understand how she could date other men if she was in love with him. Naturally, he knows Kim must have publicity dates for the photographers, as in Europe last summer, but possibly he wonders just how far she must go. Recently, Quine took off for Europe to scout locations for his forthcoming film, ‘The Image Makers’, and Kim is again rumored dating the New York field.”



But before he left, Kim managed to make headlines again. In New York she, Dick and some friends were chasing police radio calls for kicks, cruising around with a police press-agent “crime-hopping” in a radio-equipped car. When they heard that three people were shot in a tavern brawl, the crime-hoppers promptly raced ambulances to the hospital and paid a call on the wounded strangers. “I love to do fun things on the spur of the moment,” Kim once told a reporter. “I can’t stand planning ahead.”

But that’s only for fun things. For such serious decisions as marriage Kim is taking her time. When she’s fully convinced that with Richard Quine she’ll become what she wants to be—a fulfilled woman—you may be certain she’ll walk the matrimonial aisle as the most beautiful bride in town.

THE END

BY HELEN HENDRICKS

 

It is a quote. SCREENLAND MAGAZINE MAY 1960



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