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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Kim Novak
Aired January 5, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, Kim Novak, an American movie legend, breaks her long silence and bares all, from the roles she played on screen to the headlines off-screen. A rare, in-depth one-on-one with the one and only Kim Novak -- as lovely as ever, by the way -- next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to welcome Kim Novak to this program, the actress and artist, recipient, by the way, of the 2003 George Eastman Award for her contribution to film.
She does not do a lot of -- why don't you do a lot of interviews? You don't, do you.
KIM NOVAK, ACTRESS: Well, I -- my life is so different. My private life is so different. And I don't mind doing interviews, but I usually only do them if I'm working. You know, I kind of -- I like being myself and...
KING: You don't live in LA?
NOVAK: I don't live in LA, no. I live in Oregon. My lifestyle's so different.
NOVAK: Why Oregon?
NOVAK: Well, I keep moving farther north, and I like it.
NOVAK: I like it that way. It's less traffic, less people.
KING: Are you married?
NOVAK: Oh, yes. I'm married to a veterinarian and...
NOVAK: And we have a good life together. We have our horses. We ride. We, you know, have a -- we live on the river.
KING: You don't miss this, you know, red-carpet treatment here?
NOVAK: No. I -- it's fun once in a while to do that, but my life is so rich and so full, it really is, and so I don't really miss it. On the other hand, it's fun when I do. I kind of, like, feel like Cinderella at the ball.
KING: Do you miss film-making?
NOVAK: Yes. I do, in a way. I mean, I -- I like working on good films. I like acting. I think that's -- it's exciting and fun to be part of other characters. But by the same token, I -- unless you're doing something really fine that you really like, I'd rather be being creative at home. I mean, it's essential for me to feel like I'm being creative.
KING: Because you did so many hit movies. I mean, you had a lot of...
KING: In fact -- and I believe in the early '50s, you were the No. 1 box office star in America.
NOVAK: Yes. Yes, for quite a while. And then I -- that's when I left.
KING: Yes, you left...
NOVAK: I left...
KING: ... at the zenith.
NOVAK: At the zenith.
NOVAK: Well, I think it's better to leave something before it leaves you. No, that wasn't exactly the reason. Actually, what it was, is I felt that films were getting -- they started to be repeating. It seemed to be -- you got set into an image, and I didn't want to be locked into that. I wanted to keep growing, keep learning, keep expressing myself. And waiting around for a great role to happen just didn't seem right. I wanted to know more about me.
KING: Do you think your looks, in a sense, got in the way of your acting ability? That is, you were so beautiful that people didn't go deeper and look -- she's a brilliant actress?
NOVAK: I think that -- I don't know if it was from that point of view, but I do think that -- all I know is that I had some really fine opportunities when I first started in films, and then they begin to typecast you, put you in a little box, and they -- and you're right. I suppose they wanted to cast me more in glamour roles. And somehow, I didn't feel I had anything to offer that way, anything more.
KING: Would you come back to movies? Would you do a film?
NOVAK: It would have to be -- it would have to be really special. My agent, Norman Brokaw (ph), you know, has been my friend for all my life and -- all my life in Hollywood, and he's been talking to me about it, and my manager, Sue, is...
KING: If you got the right role, would you come back? NOVAK: If it was the right role, but I'm not going to wait around and look for it. I've got too many other things to do in life.
NOVAK: Would you -- you would play a grandmother?
NOVAK: If she was an interesting...
KING: You don't look like a grandmother.
NOVAK: ... grandmother. I don't think it's a matter -- I think -- you know, actually, the roles that a person should be able to get at this time of life could be more interesting because they have more character, you know? So it wouldn't matter if it's a grandmother, but she'd have to be a different kind of grandmother before I'd take it.
KING: Do you miss anything about the lifestyle?
NOVAK: The lifestyle?
KING: The paparazzi, the...
NOVAK: Well, not really. As I say, it's fun once in a while to come in town and be recognized and all, but no.
KING: No? And what do you miss the least?
NOVAK: Miss the least? Well -- the least. God, that's a toughie. Ask me what I miss the most. Oh, no, don't! I don't know. I guess...
KING: Well, we'll leave that -- maybe...
KING: Well, did you paint early on, too?
NOVAK: Well, I did, yes. That was my first thing. I had scholarships when I was in school, so I always felt that I was going to be a painter, you know, work in one of the arts. And when Hollywood opened up all the doors to me, I felt, well, maybe that's the right place. But somehow, I never felt that -- that that -- that I really had contributed that much. I wanted to and I gave everything I had, but at the time, it seemed like people thought of me more as just the glamorous...
NOVAK: Do you still paint?
NOVAK: Oh, I do. Yes. In fact, I got into it more. Our house burned down to the ground, where we are now, with a fire, and lost everything. In 13 minutes, the whole house was gone.
NOVAK: And so I lost my studio and my room. And suddenly, I had no place to do that. And I need to be creative. That's essential in me. And so suddenly, the new house, building the new house became my new canvas.
KING: Do you sell your work?
NOVAK: You know, I haven't because I want to be free to express myself in my way. I want it all to be out there someday, but in the meantime, I like the idea of doing it the way I feel, totally expressing myself.
KING: How did you go from painting to movies?
NOVAK: Well, in between, I got an -- I sculpt, as well. I do other things.
NOVAK: But who found you? I mean, who said, You should be in Hollywood?
NOVAK: Well, that happened when I was -- I was modeling, actually, and I was in vacation the first semester of college.
KING: Where'd you go to, Chicago?
NOVAK: Chicago, yes. And I was in junior college, and we went on tour and someone...
KING: Who saw you? Somebody saw you?
NOVAK: Someone saw me. And actually -- well, I signed up in the summertime, I had to be back in the fall. So I signed up with a modeling agency, and I did two jobs as a model, walking down a staircase in a movie. And someone saw me and said, Do a screen test. I had no idea what it would lead to. But the next time I went home, there I was, starring in my first movie.
KING: Your first movie was "The French Line."
NOVAK: Well, actually, no. That was one I did a model in.
KING: That was a model.
KING: That was the first thing you were in.
NOVAK: The first thing I was in.
KING: Then you were in "Pushover" with...
NOVAK: "Pushover" was -- that was -- that was the movie.
KING: And then "Phffft!." I remember "Phffft!"
NOVAK: Yes. That was a fun one, with Jack Lemon.
KING: With Jack Lemon. But the... (CROSSTALK)
KING: And "Five Against the House." I remember that movie.
KING: But the thing that blew you wide open was "Picnic." Right? Would you agree?
NOVAK: That's true. That's true.
KING: And that incredible scene.
NOVAK: Yes. That's true.
KING: With William Holden.
NOVAK: I remember going to Europe on a tour after that for the Cannes Film Festival, and I didn't speak the language and they didn't speak mine. But people would come up on the street, little boys, and they'd go -- and you knew just what they meant because of that dancing in "Picnic"...
KING: ... morning.
KING: What a...
NOVAK: Yes, it was beautiful.
KING: But did you like it right away?
NOVAK: Oh, I did. I loved that movie. I identified so much with my growing up and -- well, it was a beautiful script. It was easy.
KING: Great movie.
NOVAK: Great movie.
KING: Did you like acting?
NOVAK: I did. I loved it because I'm a very shy person and -- but when you put me into a character, I've got that whole character. I mean, I became the character. That was the way I could do it because I was -- I really didn't have all the experience as a lot of the other actors, so what I had to do -- well, my drama coach, he's the one who said it. I said, My God, what am I going to do, starring in a movie? I don't know -- I don't know how to act, you know? He said, You don't have to act. This is what actors try to do, just to be real. And so thank God, I think that's what makes it work for my films today because there was no style. NOVAK: We'll take a break, and we'll be back with Kim Novak. What a delight to have her with us. We'll be taking some of your phone calls later, as well. As we go to break, a scene in which she was the villainess in another great movie, "Vertigo."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "VERTIGO")
JIMMY STEWART: Madeleine!
NOVAK: My God! I'm not mad! I'm not mad! I don't want to die! There's someone within me, and she says I must die! (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
STEWART: I'm here. I've got you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE")
STEWART: I'm getting out of here, out of this building, and don't think I'm ever coming back because I'm not coming back ever!
NOVAK: You will. You have to.
STEWART: Oh, you mean the spell? Hah! We'll see about the spell! Taxi! Taxi!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's from the terrific movie, "Bell, Book and Candle."
All right, let's start with him. What was he like, Jimmy Stewart, to work with?
NOVAK: Just the very best. He was so real, so honest. He -- I never thought of him as an actor because he was just natural. He was -- he was real. And it was so wonderful to work with him because you just could bounce off each other because both of us, I think, in a way, worked in the same -- same -- I wouldn't call it a technique, but just got into our characters so much. And it was beautiful. So easy to work with him. Loved him.
KING: Good -- natural?
NOVAK: Oh, the best. I mean, yes. Totally real.
KING: Kim, did have you any problems, as we've read so much -- like, the Marilyn Monroes, the really beautiful Hollywood women of the '50s, and you were one of the last of the studio stars, right?
NOVAK: That's right. That's right.
KING: You were signed by a studio and promoted by a studio.
NOVAK: Yes. KING: Did you have any problems with beauty? You know that -- we read so much about difficulties that really beautiful women have in Hollywood. They get too much too soon, constantly on the make of men after them, and that kind of thing. Did have you any problems with your own looks?
NOVAK: I've always been a very grounded person. My family kept me that way. And I never had that sense of being a beautiful woman, in the sense that -- the things that bothered me was getting typed that way sometimes in a film.
KING: Because you were, were you not?
NOVAK: But I never really -- I never -- I never wanted, also, to get lost in that because so many beautiful women, they seem to get lost in that, do you know, and lost -- well, the most dangerous thing, of course, is feeling that you have to always be beautiful. So it's a terrible thing to suddenly see yourself as having to always be beautiful and never change, never grow older, things like that.
KING: Didn't Monroe have that? Wasn't she the classic example of dealing with beauty?
NOVAK: I think so. I think so. Yes. I think that's why -- I think that's why she'd always be late on the set. I think she was just -- had become so insecure, wanting to, you know, be perfect.
KING: Did you know her?
NOVAK: I'd met her, yes. I met her at -- with Bobby Kennedy and John Kennedy at a party over at Peter Lawford's house on the -- in Malibou.
KING: Did you notice anything between them?
NOVAK: Well, it was interesting because I was Bobby Kennedy's -- I was seated on his left, and she was with -- I can't think of who it was, but it was the first time she'd met him. And she kept leaning over. She had all these questions to ask. She had on, of course, a wonderful low gown. And so she got caught in the plate several times...
NOVAK: ... and had all -- a list of questions to ask him, political things and all. It was really interesting and fascinating. And I kept wondering, Would you like me to move over?
KING: She wanted very much to be smarter than she was. She wanted to learn.
NOVAK: But she did. She wanted -- she was so intrigued about politics.
KING: Tony Curtis once said Marilyn was much obvious in her sexuality. With Kim, it was more hidden. Would you agree with that?
NOVAK: Oh, I hate talking about that. But I think I was probably always more reserved, perhaps.
KING: Yes, you were. Your voice, too, was that...
KING: ... kind of mysterious.
NOVAK: Yes. I mean, I think we were totally different. You know, I don't see...
NOVAK: Yes, totally different. But it did seem as if the studio -- a lot of people made comparisons, but I never felt we were at all alike, you know?
KING: Did you have to do movies you didn't like?
NOVAK: Yes. Sure. You had to do some of those. It was hard because the first ones I had were really good. I had no idea that it wasn't that way all the time. But sure, there's some films that you do that -- when I was under contract, that I had to.
KING: Well, you know, the contract says...
KING: ... You will do this film...
NOVAK: Had to do it.
KING: ... and you do this -- you still give it your best, though, right?
NOVAK: Always. I mean, I -- to me, my only -- what I've -- I've never cared about fame or beauty or any of that, but what I always wanted was to feel like I really could contribute something. And when I would read a script and it felt like there was nothing I could contribute, well, that was really frustrating.
KING: What was it like working with Frank Sinatra?
NOVAK: It was great.
KING: "Man With the Golden Arm."
NOVAK: "Man With the Golden Arm." And then I worked with him on...
KING: "Pal Joey."
NOVAK: ... "Paul Joey," and it was a whole different story.
KING: He was difficult to...
NOVAK: But he was difficult. He was really being Joey, I guess, playing the role, do you know, because he stayed in the role...
NOVAK: ... more than he thought. Well, you know, in "Man With the Golden Arm," he was so sensitive. God! And he sent me all of Thomas Wolfe's books. And he was just so caring and, you know -- and then to work, all of a sudden, in "Pal Joey," I just expected the same person. And yet I shouldn't have been surprised. I wasn't playing the same person, either, you know?
KING: Did you ever date him?
NOVAK: Yes, I did. It was my first date in Hollywood, really.
KING: No kidding?
KING: What was that like?
NOVAK: Oh, it was wonderful. And we did a twosome. We went -- we were with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart just before he passed away. And I was so -- I was so in awe because I really had not -- you know, I'd been working all the time, here we went to the premiere of "From Here to Eternity," I think.
NOVAK: You were with Frank...
NOVAK: Frank Sinatra.
KING: ... Sinatra when he went to the premiere? So here...
KING: That was a low ebb in his life.
NOVAK: That's true. That's true. But we were shooting "The Man With the Golden Arm" at the time and...
NOVAK: He won the Academy Award for that.
NOVAK: He won the Academy Award on that one. He did. He did great. It was amazing.
KING: What was it like sitting with him, watching him in that role, the role that changed his life?
NOVAK: Well, it was quite amazing. I mean, he -- he was just an awesome individual, really. He had so much...
NOVAK: You liked him?
NOVAK: I did. I did. I mean, well, you couldn't help it. You looked into those blue eyes. They were a lot like your brown eyes, very intense. Very intense. I mean, they're not -- it's not easy to stare into your eyes.
KING: OK, we'll take a break. We'll be right back. You're watching LARRY -- my kids are cute, right? She can't believe how my kids look, right?
NOVAK: They are. They're amazing.
KING: She was asking me what it's like to be an older father.
KING: As we go to break, we're going to see a scene from what? "The Mirror Crack'd." This was with Tony Curtis, right?
NOVAK: That's right. And Elizabeth Taylor.
KING: And Elizabeth Taylor. Watch. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: And I'm so glad to see you not only kept your gorgeous figure, but you've added so much to it.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR: What are you doing here so early, dear? I thought the plastic surgery seminar was in Switzerland.
NOVAK: Actually, darling, I couldn't wait to begin our little movie. You know the saying, once an actress, always an actress.
TAYLOR: Oh, I do know the saying. But what does it have to do with you?
NOVAK: Cute angel!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "PAL JOEY")
NOVAK: There's something more to this. You knew I'd say no. You wanted me to. Why? Your girlfriend told you to get rid of me, didn't she?
FRANK SINATRA: Well, look, I'm...
NOVAK: Don't interrupt. But you didn't have the guts, did you! You wanted me to quit!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: "Pal Joey." You didn't like that part, right?
NOVAK: Well, it was an ingenue. KING: You didn't like her.
NOVAK: It didn't have the character. I like -- I like being able to play against my own character, with more going on inside.
KING: All right, let's find out tonight, here in the warmth of this atmosphere of the studio, the real Sammy Davis, Jr., story. What happened? There's so -- here's what -- you said it was not a love relationship. People have written that it was a love relationship, that Harry Cohen (ph) threatened to have him killed if he went out with you. What was the story?
NOVAK: Well, you can imagine at the time, I mean, I was No. 1 box office. Harry Cohen, it really mattered to him.
KING: He was the head of Columbia Pictures.
NOVAK: Yes. But you see, the first time I met Sammy, he was there on the set taking pictures, photographing. And I liked him. He's such a delightful person. You know, he was fun and had a great sense of humor. And it was not -- it was not an attraction thing. But on the other hand, I think what caused the problem is -- is that when he came to Chicago -- and my family -- he came out to our place. We built snowmen and we went ice skating at their place, and we had such a good time. He was like a friend.
KING: But never romantic?
NOVAK: But it was not romantic. But the thing is, Irv Kups (ph) in Chicago...
NOVAK: ... heard that we were there -- oh, he's a wonderful person. I love that man so much.
KING: He just passed away.
NOVAK: Oh, no! I didn't know that.
KING: He did. A couple of weeks ago.
NOVAK: Oh, God! Essie (ph) is still here?
KING: She died, too.
NOVAK: Oh, my God. I had no idea. But anyway, they were very special and...
NOVAK: He wrote about it?
NOVAK: He was the first one who broke it in the news as if it was a love affair and -- but what happened with that is then the studio said, Oh, my God, you can't see him! Well, I mean, when someone says you can't do something, I mean, of course, you want to do it. But it wasn't seeing him on a love relationship, but it felt like, Who's going to say because he's black that you shouldn't see each other? He was a great friend. I had so much fun together. We had good times.
KING: How did he handle them telling him not to see you?
NOVAK: I think -- I think he did get frightened by the threat at the studio. I think -- I think he was.
KING: Did you stop, then, being a friend?
NOVAK: Well, you know, I didn't realize at the time -- there's so many things at that period of my life that I didn't -- I had never been prejudiced. I didn't understand all of that. And actually, when that happened and the studio said that, the first thing I did was drive over to his family's house because we -- I spent -- well, see, how we -- how we met, actually, was -- the photographing was one thing. But then we went to one of those parties that they had just before Christmas, a thespian or whatever that group...
KING: Yes, I know.
NOVAK: You know? That. And so we were at Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis's house. And all I know is I had too much to drink, and he said, "I better drive you home." He drove me home. And in the morning, he called and he said, Now, don't forget, you're going to be here. And I said, I don't remember that. He said, Yes, my mother's making turkey and the whole thing. You've got to come over. And I thought, OK. So I got in my Corvette and went on over, and that's how that really began. I loved his family. It was so -- they were so nice. They treated me just like my family.
KING: Was he in love with you?
NOVAK: I think he was. Yes, I think he was. Btu all I knew is that when they said, You can't, I drove on over with my little Corvette. And at the time, I didn't realize his reaction. It was, like -- it was very strange you know? And his mother said, Well, come on in, you know. But there was so much tension, and I did not know at the time all about the threat part.
KING: That he'd been threatened. Yes, Harry Cohen threatened...
NOVAK: No, I didn't know that.
KING: ... to take his other eye out or something.
NOVAK: That's right. I understand that's true. But again, as I say, I don't know it. I was just told that I shouldn't. And they put guards in my house and all that. And I thought, This is ridiculous. I don't want to live like this. I couldn't see what was wrong, do you know, what was so terrible.
KING: And he had the same when he married Mai (ph) Brit, right, he had to face all that again.
NOVAK: That's right. That's true. But were times different then?
KING: We've come a long way, thank God.
NOVAK: Yes. Thank God. Thank God. I must say, then, when I realized it, I thought, It's so wrong. I mean, I was so anti- prejudiced and all of that that I really wanted...
KING: Picture a world in which the opinion was that you had dated him.
KING: Your career was over, and so was his.
NOVAK: That's right. That's right.
KING: For as stupid a reason...
KING: ... as pigment.
NOVAK: Exactly. But I mean, it wasn't dates anyway. But even if it were, I saw...
KING: Yes. I know.
KING: ... nothing wrong with that. I mean, if I had been in love with him, I would...
KING: You would have gone with it, right?
NOVAK: ... it wouldn't have mattered. Absolutely. I just never saw him as color. I just saw this great sense of humor and a tremendous talent. And I just felt just wonderful just to be around someone that great.
NOVAK: Did you ever fall in love with anyone you worked with?
NOVAK: Yes, I did. Yes. I was very much in love with Richard Coyne (ph), the director.
KING: The director.
NOVAK: You know, directed...
KING: Did you marry?
NOVAK: No. No, we didn't. We were -- talked about it many times, but I was never the marrying kind, really. I never wanted to get married, really.
KING: Is the veterinarian the only marriage?
NOVAK: That's -- well, no, I was married to Richard Johnson, an actor, an English actor.
KING: Oh, I knew Richard Johnson.
NOVAK: Did you know Richard?
KING: Yes. He still is a good actor.
KING: Yes, he's...
NOVAK: And he's still working. And he...
KING: No children?
NOVAK: Yes, he's got a lot of children.
KING: You, though.
NOVAK: No, no, no, no. No, I never have.
NOVAK: Never wanted to have children?
NOVAK: Not really. Not really. If it would have happened -- I always feel -- I'm very fatalistic, and I feel that if something is meant to be, it opens easily and is presented to you and then you move with it. And that door was never opened to me, and so here I am. But I have two children. My husband has two children that are like mine. And so Lisa and Becca are my children, and it's wonderful. I didn't have to go through the diaper stage!
KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll include phone calls for Kim Novak, the recipient of the 2003 George Eastman Award for her contribution to film. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "KISS ME, STUPID")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Polly, we were just wondering, how do you get that thing to stay in there?
NOVAK: I glue it in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would happen if I unglued it?
NOVAK: You'd get beer in your eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From there?
NOVAK: From here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was Kim Novak receiving the George Eastman 2003 award for contribution to film and on the 17th of January, Cinematech will present, at the Egyptian Theater here in Los Angeles, one full week of all of your movies, right?.
KING: Are you going to host it?
NOVAK: I'm going to come on the Saturday night and talk just before "Vertigo" and just after. And then they're going to have a little get-together which will be really nice.
KING: Are you going to sit through all of the films?
NOVAK: Oh, I'd like to. I'm going to come in cognito. I want to see -- my first movie, I think, is going to be on the night before and I want to see that.
KING: That's a great honor. Before we take calls, what happened to you at the Catholic Legion of Decency and "Kiss Me Stupid"? You lost an audience with the pope because of this, your parents got mad?
NOVAK: When you saw the movie, it really wasn't anything. Of course, now it wouldn't be considered anything but at the time for some reason, it was.
KING: Dean Martin was in that.
NOVAK: Dean Martin, yes. It was originally for Peter Sellars. I think it would have made a difference. Ray Walston did a great job but it was the kind of movie that was difficult to carry off and away. With a personality like Peter Sellars --
KING: Is there still a Catholic Legion of Decency?
NOVAK: I don't know.
KING: What did they do, ban it? Like, tell Catholics not to see it.
NOVAK: It was definitely not allowed at the time.
KING: You lost an audience with the pope.
NOVAK: I did but since then I've been forgiven and I had an audience with the pope about 5 years ago. Maybe marrying the veterinarian made a difference.
KING: Julie in North Carolina as we go to calls for Kim Novak. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Ms. Novak. I admire you so much. I wanted to know, what other actors and actresses have inspired you, if any, as a performer?
NOVAK: You know, my idol, I idolize Greta Garbo. I just loved her work so much. She was, again, so real. She was not -- to me, she wasn't stylized. You could see any of her work right now. She was just amazing, and what I loved about it also was there was an air of mystery about her work. There was always something more. She didn't give you everything. She held back, and I like that. I probably -- she was my role model.
KING: You work with some terrific people, right? Tyrone Power, William Holden. Not bad, right?
KING: You even worked with Zero Mostel.
NOVAK: Oh, yes and that was great.
KING: Was he fun to work with?
NOVAK: So much fun. Wonderful person.
KING: The original (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Billingham, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Ms. Novak. You're one of my favorites and truly one of the greatest actresses of all time. You're magic.
NOVAK: Thank you so much.
Caller: What is your very favorite thing you like to do today, your favorite thing?
KING: Still paint?
NOVAK: I do, but it's any of the arts. It's essential for me. I'll start getting hyper if I don't have an outlet. I need to be creative. I like to sculpt. I paint. In the new house, I made it my whole canvas. I have murals all over the wall. It was great to paint big, broad strokes.
KING: And you like big animals. Your husband deals with large animals.
NOVAK: For the most part, horses. So I've got the horses on the wall. I've got all kinds of things, birds. It's being creative. Yes, I need that but also I'm working with animals. I do -- I love that.
KING: Do you ever see movies where you see someone and say, boy, I'd love to play that?
NOVAK: Unfortunately, I see that all too often. Not too often but there are a lot of films that I see that I think, oh, God, that would have been fun to play.
KING: Did you ever turn down anything you regretted?
NOVAK: Yes, as a matter of fact, I had. Gosh, was it Otto Preminger wanted me to do -- which was that wonderful movie with the poker -- no, I mean, not poker -- playing that so...
KING: "The Hustler." You were supposed to be in "The Hustler"? And who got that part? Who was it...
NOVAK: She was wonderful.
KING: She was terrific. Paul Newman's girlfriend.
NOVAK: Exactly. But when I read that script, you know, it depends on your frame of mind at the time when you read a script. When I read it, it sounded so silly. I thought it sounded ridiculous. I would have loved to play that actually. Sensitive role that I would have liked.
KING: When I asked Jack Lemmon, "What role did you turn down you regretted?" "The Hustler." He was offered "The Hustler" before Paul Newman and he said, "Who is going to watch a picture about guys shooting pool?"
NOVAK: That's the same thing I felt. I never conferred with him about it but that's right. It just sounded like something -- I read it and I started laughing. I thought this is ridiculous.
KING: My crack staff tells me Piper Laurie did this one.
NOVAK: Yes, Piper Laurie and for me, it could have been a turning point in the sense of seeing me not as the glamorous girl but very plain and very simple and I could have identified completely. It was the script that turned me off.
KING: When you saw the movie, did you go, dang it?
NOVAK: Yes, I did.
KING: Cape Coral, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello, Ms. Novak. Happy New Year to you.
NOVAK: Thank you.
CALLER: I wanted to know, for you, personally, can you pick one role you found most fulfilling personally or professionally and also looking back on your many roles, do you ever look back and think there might be one role that you wish you wish you could have done a little bit better, not where I stand, I think they're all perfect, but for you personally?
KING: What's your personal favorite?
NOVAK: I'd have to say two, really because "Picnic" was so special and to me, I was able to use all of my childhood and everything, playing that role, that character, but "Vertigo" also, because that...
KING: Complicated part.
NOVAK: It was complicated but not really. I mean, it was, but I feel very at home at playing more than one character. I really like that. I enjoyed it. It gave me something to work with. It was difficult to play in "Pal Joey", because it was one-dimensional but if you give me more dimensions, the more I could enjoy it and play with it.
But "Vertigo" was so great because of working with Alfred Hitchcock, he allowed me to develop the character. He was absolutely -- had to be exactly standing here doing exactly that but he allowed you the freedom to develop the character. Only great directors do that now.
KING: So he was an actor's director?
NOVAK: I think so.
KING: Because he's been accused of not being...
NOVAK: I know that. I've heard that to be because he's very exacting on technical things but that was fine. I was never concerned about the technique, but I wanted to develop my own inner feelings and he never interfered with that.
KING: And the other part was what part if you could do it again would you say I would do it better?
NOVAK: So many. Probably every one of them, because I've learned a lot since then. Do you know?
KING: I loved you in the Eddie Duchin story. You played a dying woman.
NOVAK: Yes, I did. I love that and I remember feeling like I really was dying. It was sort of scary at the end because it felt like the blood was leaving my body and my face. I get into a role and I never was one who could leave it at 5:00 or 8:00.
KING: So you took it home with you?
NOVAK: Always took it home. That was OK, except when I played one role which I really loved, Jeanne Eagels. I loved it so much but I feel I have acquired some of her that I could never leave behind. It's there. You know, it's now a part of me, which is OK because she was kind of special.
KING: You did television, right? You did Falcon Crest.
NOVAK: I did that, yes, because I've made some choices that I did for a reason. Everyone was saying oh, television, it's so difficult. Of course, you wouldn't know, you were in movies. I'd like to see if this is really as tough as it is. So I did that, and I enjoyed it because I felt like it was a challenge. I like a challenge.
KING: I could tell. We'll be back with more calls for Kim Novak. As we go to break, another scene from "Vertigo."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NOVAK, "VERTIGO": I was safe when you found me. There was nothing that you could prove. When I saw you again I -- I couldn't run away. I loved you so. I walked into danger and let you change me because I loved you, and I wanted you. So, please, say you love me, keep me safe. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's too late. It's too late. There's no bringing her back.
NOVAK: Oh, please!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: Are you not a sea captain?
RICHARD JOHNSON, ACTOR: No!
NOVAK: But your estate in Virginia?
JOHNSON: Never an acre.
JOHNSON: Not a yard.
JOHNSON: Not an inch, save those six feet in my mother's grave.
NOVAK: And you say that I've tricked you.
JOHNSON: Well, you roped me the first.
NOVAK: I did not of the kind. You introduce yourself as a captain?
JOHNSON: Not until you dropped me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lady black stone.
NOVAK: Fortune hunter!
JOHNSON: Blood sucker! NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
JOHNSON: Ten thousand plagues on all!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
"The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders."
And that was yours first husband, Richard Johnson.
NOVAK: That's right.
KING: He still is acting, right.
NOVAK: He still is acting. He still is -- he can't stand not to. As a lot of actors are that way, I guess.
KING: Were you writing a book that got burned in the fire?
NOVAK: Yes, I worked for 10 years on that book. Ten years, that wasn't easy and then of course...
KING: It got burned.
NOVAK: Lost it all.
KING: Going to write again?
NOVAK: It took me to while to be able to live with it, but I am starting to work on it again. I'm doing it different this time. I can't bear to go back and do all of that. I was thinking of a different approach.
KING: Pauline Kayle (ph) once applauded you by saying "Kim Novak has a quality of lostness." You could be dreamy and touching at the same time.
NOVAK: I take that as a compliment.
KING: That lost as soon as a great line because you do have that quality.
NOVAK: A lostness only seems like a lostness if it's about looking for something to find. You know, if you're searching, and that is what gives that...
KING: Because you had that about your...
NOVAK: Yes, yes, I suppose.
KING: You brought that to your roles definitely.
CALLER: Hello. I'm just going -- I'm just kind of fascinated. I wonder what you do to maintain this stunning, stunning good looks. NOVAK: Thank you.
KING: OK, what do you do?
NOVAK: I think it's living like -- I think it's living well. A healthy lifestyle, doing what you want to do, and not -- I think causes such tension and all if you're trying to twist life to shape it to how you want to, but if instead you take life as it is and just make the most of it. I just think it's a sense of sharing joy.
KING: Cote St. Luc, Quebec, hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Larry.
CALLER: My question for Kim is the follow, you've had an excellent and amazing career in film.
If you could do it all over again, what career would you have chosen for yourself?
NOVAK: Well, I always feel the need to express myself, so it would either be in writing, which I adore writing or painting or sculpting. It's got to be something creative, but also something where I'm just able to give of myself. That's very important.
KING: Did you like modeling?
NOVAK: No. Not really. I mean -- no. It never suited me really. I mean, I was very self-conscious. As an actress, it's different, as I say, you play a role, but it's much harder to be just yourself.
KING: Modeling is hard work too.
NOVAK: Well, modeling is hard work but it's also too much self- focus for me. That's what I liked about playing a character. You were focusing in the character and that, you could really explore. Again, with self-focus, it's, doesn't have enough dimension.
KING: Cumberland, Maryland, hello. I'm sorry, I hit the wrong button.
Cumberland, Maryland, hello.
CALLER: Hello. This is really the highlight, well not the highlight but one of the big highlights of my life is talk to Miss Novak and ask her a question. Now what I would like to know, everybody has a love, you know, of course your husband is your love but could you tell me in your life, who, besides your husband, was your greatest love?
NOVAK: It was a male. It was a horse, it was a stallion. My very first horse.
NOVAK: Oh, god, I loved him so deeply.
KING: What was his name?
NOVAK: His name was Nirjerhon (ph), an Arabian stallion.
KING: How old were you?
NOVAK: That was when I actually left Hollywood. I guess you could say I left Hollywood for that horse.
KING: What is it with him and horses?
NOVAK: Well, it is. It's a very special connection. There's something -- well for one, and this is true with any wild animal, they make you a better person because they demand honesty. They're not going to respond to you or understand you if you change, if air not -- so they bring out the best in you. And with a horse, when you can communicate with an animal that big, and to be able to -- I used to be able to ride him without a bridle or anything and ride him by mares and just get on and feel so at one with that animal. But then I have to say that I had a pet snake that was also totally in tune with.
KING: Wait a minute.
KING: In love with a snake?
NOVAK: Yes, unbelievable.
KING: The snake had a personality?
NOVAK: He did. I named him Sincerely, because what he was. He was so genuinely sincere. And he used to be -- I rode him with my stallion. We went out on the desert and that's how we found him. It had a dislocated jaw and, we got him fixed and everything. He used to love to go out. He'd wrap himself up in my hair with his little head point out. But when it came time to leave I put him back into the desert, and he went a little ways and turned around and came back and climbed up my horse's leg and crawled back. I mean, it was absolutely awesome. We had a real connection. Really fine connection.
KING: Everybody's a little nuts.
NOVAK: No, no, I don't think of that.
KING: Didn't spook the horse?
NOVAK: No, because -- well he knew him so well.
KING: Monterey, California.
CALLER: Hello, your husband is a veterinarian, I'm so happy to talk to you, Miss Novak. I met you once when I was 6 years old and I wondered if you still have your llamas and how many animals do you have right now having a veterinarian as a husband?
NOVAK: Well, we have two riding horses. Where we live it's wonderful. We have two islands and bob built trails all over, so we can ride everywhere. And then I have a driving horse so I can drive him. That's great. Then we sold off most of the llamas but kept our best friends. So, we've got nine that are really special that go with us forever. That's one of them, Mountain Man. I see you've got him on there. Then, well, we had four dogs. We just lost two of the older dogs, little ones. And I always seem to have birds. In fact the last time I talked to you, Larry, I was in love, deeply in love with a wild stellar jay. I've lost him since. But animals will always be the second love of my life.
KING: When we, as we go to break, another scene from "Picnic."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make me feel patient.
NOVAK: Do I?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: All right, now take it. Go on and take it all, because it's all that you're going to need after that one shot is another and then another and then another. Take it. Take it! Why should you hurt like other people hurt?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was maybe the first major movie about drug addiction.
NOVAK: That's true.
KING: "The Man With the Golden Arm," great film.
Encino, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. Ms. Novak, this is a privilege speaking to you. You are the face of my generation and the talent of my generation. My question to you is, who, as an artist influenced you the most, if any, and are any of your works available to the public?
NOVAK: Without a doubt, Jimmy Stewart influenced me as an actor.
KING: Who was a -- any painter influence you?
NOVAK: Oh, gosh, Rodigliani (ph)? I don't know.
KING: And you don't sell to the public. Right?
NOVAK: No, I haven't, no. I haven't. KING: Would you?
NOVAK: I tell you, I'm really feeling the need to express myself without it being on a commercial level of where someone says, oh, but would you put in this or do that, or whatever. I would like it all to be -- I want to leave it to the world, my art.
KING: Wouldn't you like to know that you're in someone's home? I mean, that would be a cooky feeling, to know that what you did is in someone's home.
NOVAK: Well, I suppose that's true.
KING: Would to me.
NOVAK: I have given my art to different people.
KING: Oh, you have.
NOVAK: Yeah. Well, Walter Keane has my painting I did of him.
NOVAK: I don't know if you saw the painting that I did of him. You didn't have that, I guess. But I really liked...
KING: The famous Keane?
NOVAK: Yes, it was interesting...
KING: You did his eyes?
KING: ... because I always paint into the future, and I put him -- I painted him. He did a painting of me, and I did one of him, and I did him as if he were a clown pulling the strings of a puppet and these little dolls, and he had the strings and I had this clown's garb on, and it was actually a sad thing. It was like there he was sort of trapped on the stage, and of course, I didn't know this, this is before we knew that it was really his wife that was painting them, and it was almost as if that showed that. It was interesting.
KING: Of course, Sinatra painted, too.
NOVAK: Yes, he did.
KING: And didn't sell.
KING: He would give.
NOVAK: Yeah, yeah.
KING: Philadelphia, hello.
CALLER: Kim Novak, hello, it's a pleasure to speak with you. KING: Hi.
CALLER: I wanted to ask you -- I grew up watching you all my life. I'm 50 years old. People have always told me I look like you. But my question is -- and hi, Larry. You're great.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: Would you ever consider doing television, had you the opportunity to do so? Thank you.
NOVAK: I must say some of the shows I see on HBO now are so awesome. "Six feet under," are we allowed to say favorite shows?
NOVAK: God, and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
KING: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is unbelievable.
NOVAK: Oh, it's unbelievable. You should be on that show sometime.
KING: You should be on that show.
NOVAK: Well, maybe we'll do it together.
KING: Any time. Larry David calls, done.
NOVAK: Oh, I love it. Oh, I just love -- I love that.
KING: That's a great show.
NOVAK: It is.
KING: Newport Beach, California, last call. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. How are you?
CALLER: I was wondering, what do you think about the new generation of actors?
NOVAK: I think it's great. They have a lot more freedom. You know what I like about it, at the time when I left Hollywood, if you left Hollywood it meant you never wanted to work again. But now a lot of people live away and still come back to work. I mean, it's not a big deal.
KING: Hollywood, you don't have to live here.
NOVAK: You don't have to live here anymore, which is great. I think they have a lot more freedom to work with. I think they perhaps miss some of that early discipline that at that time you had to have, because when you weren't shooting a film, which wasn't very often, but you were in constantly taking photographs, doing so many different dancing lessons, singing lessons. I mean, there was some wonderful training that went with it, and so I think it's unfortunate that way, but on the other hand, I adore, for instance, that's part of what I like on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," that you can ad lib.
KING: Freedom, yeah.
NOVAK: I mean, it's so free.
KING: Kim, thank you, darling. What an honor.
NOVAK: An honor for me.
KING: Kim Novak, the retrospective of the works begins at the Egyptian Theater on the 17th.
NOVAK: I think it starts on the 15th, Larry, actually.
KING: On the 15th, but for a week.
NOVAK: For a week.
KING: Before we go, a special hello to the newest member of the LARRY KING LIVE family, Katherine Elizabeth Gallagher (ph), Katie, there she is, to her friends, the first child of our senior producer, Julie Gallagher (ph) and her husband, Jim. Katie was born on December 29 as a tax deduction, seven pounds, four ounces, 20 inches of beautiful holiday joy. And we're thrilled to report that mom, dad and the baby are all doing fine. We all wish them the very best, and Katie will be working for us shortly. Back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
NOVAK: That's wonderful.
KING: And it's, you know, this is the first night we're back live. We've been away for two weeks, all the shows have been on tape, so it's good to talk with Aaron Brown again. Tomorrow night, by the way, Ryan Seacrest returns. We'll also spend some moments with Jack Hanna. But there he is, in New York, ready to take on "NEWSNIGHT," as he does every night.
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