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Kim Novak: “ . . . Right Or Wrong I Listen To My Heart”

Ever since I was a kid I’ve liked boys.

“I’ll never forget my first official date. I didn’t know how to act. You see, my older sister and my mother are the extroverts in our family, my dad and I are the quiet ones. So for days after this young romeo had asked me out, I was both excited and nervous. The night before the big occasion my mother gave me some advice. Advice!! She practically wrote dialogue for me! She told me that all males, regardless of whether they’re thirteen or thirty-three, like to talk about themselves. And—she rehearsed me in a whole set of questions to ask, all guaranteed to be conversational icebreakers.

“Five minutes after the evening started my routine went out of the window. Mother had forgotten to tell me one very essential thing—what to do if my date didn’t answer!

“To make a sad story short, my first date was a flop, because he turned out to be as shy as I was!

“I asked him a question, but instead of its being the beginning of a great evening, he turned red, mumbled something which to this day I still can’t figure out and then lapsed into complete silence. I was lost, absolutely lost. Today, of course, I’m glad it happened, because that way I discovered at a tender age that you can’t rehearse for a date and learn lines like you do when you study a movie script. My only salvation that first evening was that we were going to a movie. I kept thinking to myself as soon as we get into the show I won’t have to say anything! But to complicate things, my date and I walked to the theater. It took twenty minutes to get there, but our mutual silence made it seem more like two hours. Since my first question had laid a bomb, I was afraid to ask another, so we walked all the way without saying a word. They were showing Nob Hill. For two hours we both relaxed and watched. I remember thinking that after seeing the actors and actresses talking to each other, our own conversation might come more easily on the walk home. I was mistaken. All the way home not a word was spoken—we both fell back into our original state of blankness. And that’s the real lowdown on my very first date. I was just thirteen at the time, but even this flop of a date didn’t discourage me from wanting to go out.

Movie idols

“I guess I was never a typical teenager, even when it came to drooling over movie stars. I only had two favorite actors: Tyrone Power and Anthony Quinn. But what I lacked in quantity of idols I made up in intensity. I was so fond of Quinn that one of the first boys I started dating was practically a double for him, physically. That was one of the main reasons I kept dating him!

“I went steady for the first time when I was thirteen-and-a-half, during my last year in Junior High. My first steady was older than I—he was already in high school.

“That’s pretty much a pattern with me, dating older fellows. For as long as I can remember I never went with kids my own age. I was never at ease with them. I went steady that first time for about a year. It finally broke up because both of us ran into parental objections.

“When we’d first started dating regularly our folks felt that, like with most teenagers, it would be a fast romance, forgotten after two or three weeks. But when we kept seeing each other for months, then they discouraged us. They felt we were too serious, while we, on the other hand, really believed that ours was a deep and lasting love. After the year went by our folks forced us to stop seeing each other.

“I don’t want to mention his name, since he’s not in show business and his life is a private affair and it might embarrass him. But I can tell you that we still correspond now and then, or I should say I exchange letters with him and his wife. Yes, he got married. They have two beautiful children. In the last letter I received, his wife told me that he still carries my picture in his wallet, but that at the moment a snapshot of their latest baby was squeezed in on top of mine. I wrote back and told her I was flattered to still be included in his wallet, even if I did take second billing to their baby!

“After that first ‘serious’ romance broke up I fell into a pattern of going steady with a lot of different boys, but the steadies lasted only a few weeks before calling it quits.

“I’ve often thought about why I did fall in and out of love so often and also why I felt the need for even labeling a date ‘my steady.’ I guess going steady, even for only two weeks at a time, gave me the kind of security I needed.

“Incidentally, I’m like this in other things besides dates—I mean my likes and dislikes run in spurts. I get all excited about something and then cool off just as fast.

“The second time I went steady for any length of time was during my freshman year in high school. My sister Arlene was a senior and head of a riding club. One day I went out to the stables with her and I met one of the other club members. He was the best rider in the group. Naturally, I noticed him right off. I was flattered when he seemed to notice me, too, because you know how ‘big time’ seniors can act around freshmen.

As I said, one of my first crushes had been on a boy who looked like Tony Quinn. Well, this one was physically just the opposite. He had very curly light brown hair and was nice looking but not in a rugged Quinn way. He was a good singer. I always thought he should have made a career of it. We went steady for nearly two years. It was very romantic. We used to go to a recording studio and he’d make records: for me—you know the amateur kind where you go into a little booth and just sing. He sang only dreamy, romantic songs. I still have one of those records. Matter of fact, I came across it just a while ago, the last time I went home for a visit. On the outside of the record jacket he’d written To Mickey—that was my nickname—the girl I’ll love for always.

“You know something? He’s still not married. Hmm, I’ll have to look into that!

“The next fellow that came along was completely different from any one I’d ever dated. He was a football player, only he had more than muscles. He was studying to be a lawyer. The real intellectual type. That certainly was an intriguing combination—brawn and brains. But rather than his physical appearance I think the thing that really swept me off my feet was the way he treated me. My football player gave me a real rough time. All the other boys I’d gone out with had put me on a pedestal—but not this one. Quite the opposite. He used to do things and say things to irritate me—but it only made him more attractive in my eyes—I guess because he was a challenge or something. Anyway when we first started dating he always used to manage to wind up an evening hurting my feelings. Like for instance he’d make up pet names for me, sweet (?) things like Miss No-Personality! At first I tried not to let him know that things like that could bother me.

On again, off again

“But I wasn’t good at hiding my emotions. Our romance was an on-again-off-again thing. He’d make me so mad that I’d hate him. I hated him so much that I . . . I loved him.

“So we kept seeing each other, and for the first time my folks really liked a boy I was dating and they encouraged me. They thought he was good for me because he kept me on my toes, constantly trying to improve myself, concerned about how I looked and things. For quite a while I was off that pedestal the other boy friends had put me way up high on. But then we stopped seeing each other and I climbed back up on that pedestal. . . .

At least temporarily!

“The football player and I went steady for close to two years. After him, I went through a stage of being footloose and just dating a lot of different boys. Strange as it seems almost every new beau I dated was completely different from any other boy I’d dated before. For instance, when I entered my freshman year at Junior College, I met someone who was absolutely unlike anyone who had ever appealed to me before. He was slight and on the frail side. Ever since that time, although I haven’t always stuck to it, I think my preference has been for men of this type. He was studying to be an engineer. The first thing that fascinated me about him, was his voice. He was a Southerner. He had so much charm and such a wonderful accent. I’d never really known any Southerners before I started dating him. I saw him pretty steadily for a year and a half.

“He asked me to marry him.

“We became sort of engaged.

“I thought I was in love with him.

“But then he actually got to the engagement ring buying stage, and I got scared.


“It was awful. I really sincerely thought I was in love, but when he told me he was going to buy me a ring I got a funny feeling deep inside of me. It’s hard to put into words—the nearest sensation I can describe is that I felt trapped—closed in. When that happened, I knew he wasn’t the one: if he had been I wouldn’t have felt the way I did. In all fairness to him and to myself we decided to stop seeing each other.

“The next thing I went through was what could be called the rebound stage. I even got engaged again to someone new. This second engagement was also more in the talking stage than anything else. This time I fell for a businessman. When I first met him I was convinced that I was not emotionally ready for any serious relationship—that I was just dating for a lark, not because I intended to settle down.

“But after a while I realized that he wasn’t just someone to take lightly; he was a serious type. My original idea of just going out for a few nice evenings gave way to the feeling he was right for me. He was tall—I know I said that by then I’d grown to prefer the slight, frail type, but I also said I didn’t always date that type—anyway he was the tall, dark, brooding type, but a fine gentleman.

“After a while, he proposed and once again I was sort of engaged to become engaged. By that time, college was over for the summer vacation and in the midst of trying to decide whether or not to make it an official engagement, I was offered a summer modeling job.

How to be glamorous

“Along with three other girls I was to tour the country for a washing machine firm, demonstrating how glamorous the American housewife could look while piling her dirty laundry into an automatic washer. I took the job because I thought it would be a good chance to get away and think about things. Off I went.

“We toured through New York, Georgia, Texas and wound up in San Francisco. I wasn’t ready to go home when the tour ended and, since I was already on the West Coast, one of the models and I decided to go to Hollywood and see what it was like. We pooled our resources, rented a cubby hole of an apartment and then it all began.

“From there on the stories have been printed over and over about how I registered with a modeling agency, got a walk-on in Jane Russell’s picture, French Line, and a few weeks later met Louis Shurr, got a contract at Columbia, the lead opposite Fred MacMurray in Pushover, and moved into the Studio Club.

“Yes, the summer that I left Chicago to think about my tall, dark, brooding beau was the beginning of a new life for me. I’ve never really returned to Chicago since. Oh, I’ve been home to visit—but that summer was the beginning of an entirely different way of life. I’ve sometimes wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t needed to get away to think about the possibility of marrying. The only conclusion I can come to is that I really knew even before I left home that he and I weren’t right for each other; if he’d been the one, I’d have known it immediately.

“Maybe I thought it was very exciting and glamorous to say I was leaving town to think about a man. But I guess I was just in love with love. . . .

My faith

“Now, don’t misunderstand me. With my tall, brooding business man, as with the others I’ve mentioned, I loved them—but not with the kind of love strong enough to result in marriage. I am a Catholic—to me marriage means a lifetime of love for one man and as of this moment I have never met a man who is everything to me, a man who made me feel as if he were absolutely essential to my life.

“I just had not yet met a man who made me feel that unless I married him my life would be unhappy or incomplete, and this is what I am looking for.

“I have no regrets about any of the romances I’ve had. I’ve learned from all of them.

“Incidentally, there’s one thing I’d like to clear up—my relationship with Mac Krim. Everytime I’ve dated someone other than Mac I’ve read an item that usually goes something like this: Kim Novak was seen at the Mocambo last night dancing with Mr. So-and-So. Poor Mac Krim! Believe me Mac himself doesn’t feel this way; we understand each other and our relationship perfectly. We’ve been seeing each other off and on for nearly four years and though it may have seemed like a steady romance, we have never had any ‘agreement’ or understanding between us.

Much about Mac

“There are so many wonderful things I could tell you about him, but I think they can all be summed up by saying that just from being around Mac I’ve learned more than I ever learned from any other person I’ve ever met.

“Then came my next ‘romance,’ after not dating anyone aside from Mac for almost two years.

“I went back East on a personal appearance tour. On my trip I met a ski instructor, Tony Kastner, at a resort called Grossingers’, which is right outside of New York. He was a very sweet person, very charming. He gave me skiing lessons. I thought he was very nice and that was that. But when I left the resort and returned to the city, I was greeted with headlines saying I’d been swept off my feet and was practically at the altar with my skiing friend. I tried denying it, but in my profession the line of least resistance is to close your eyes to the erroneous items in gossip columns and not bother denying them because then the writers suspect you’re trying to cover something up, and print the rumors anyway.

“And that covers everything on the subject of that ‘romance!’

“Soon after this episode, I made my first trip to Europe. I was sent by the studio to plug a couple of my current films as well as to represent Columbia pictures at the Cannes Film Festival. During the trip I visited Italy, and while there, many of the local Italian people, both in and out of the picture industry, were kind enough to invite me to parties in their homes. I met Mario Bandini at an afternoon cocktail party. I must admit that when I entered the room he immediately caught my eye; to be honest, I was attracted to him at first glance. During the next half hour people were milling about and eventually we were introduced. I really thought him most attractive, but after exchanging a few polite words I walked away.

Everyone nice is taken

“I had assumed that he was married.

“It just seemed that most of the people at the party were husband-and-wife. I thought to myself he’s attractive, but he’s already taken, and I didn’t let my mind wander any further. A little while later, he came over and we talked for a few moments and he asked me what I planned on doing when I left the party. I said I was going shopping and he looked at me and said, ‘May I come along?’ Before I could even think, I blurted out. ‘Oh, aren’t you married?’ He laughed, and said seriously, ‘Why, that’s very interesting, Miss Novak, do you always ask a man’s marital status before allowing him to go shopping with you?’ I started to answer him, but before I did, I noticed that although he’d said that last sentence with a straight face, his eyes were laughing.

“That was my introduction to Mario’s marvelous sense of humor.

“Then, since Italy is his country, Mario offered to show me the sights. I took him up on it fast, and teased him by saying that to make up for his generosity he’d have on promise to let me

Cook’s Tour of Chicago and Los Angeles sometime.

“Mario is very much respected in Italy. His is a very old and prominent family. He is not a Count, as was first reported, but almost everyone calls him Count. Maybe it’s because of his regal bearing. I even find myself saying Count Bandini now and then. Mario was another complete departure from any type of man I’d ever known before. True, he is a businessman; so is Mac Krim; so was my tall, brooding ex-steady. But there was another dimension to Mario.

“There’s just something about European men . . . they’re so . . . so continental, is the only word I can think of, and that’s so very inadequate. I found Mario sophisticated, worldly, at ease on the dance floor, behind the wheel of a sports car, in a gondola for two, just walking, just talking. He is always completely at ease, in every conceivable situation. He has a great deal of appeal. Let’s face it, Mario is a very attractive man!”


“I would never marry anyone, or even seriously consider it until Id had a chance to spend time with him on my home territory, so to speak. I want Mario to see my family, my home in Chicago. . . . I want him to see me as I am when I am working in Hollywood. I want him to know me as I am in my own surroundings, and not on a brief European jaunt. Here in America, I want to see how he reacts to my world. Until these things happen I can only say that for our relationship to ripen into a serious thing, we must first have a chance for romance without the continental backdrop.

“That’s why, right now, I can’t tell where my friendship with Mario will eventually lead.

“But if there is really something there, I will know it. I know I feel something toward him; just how deeply that feeling goes is something only tomorrow can answer. . . .

“Have I found him? All I can say is that at the moment, no. But he may be only as far off as tomorrow. . . .

“And each boy I’ve known, each boy I’ve loved has helped teach me how glorious tomorrows can be . . . when you’re in love. . . .”


Watch for Kim in Paramount’s VERTIGO and Columbia’s BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE.



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