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Not forgetting their five horses and the herd of llamas.
“When Bob and I were dating, I had one llama, and whenever we’d walk around [the llama would] come and walk between us,” she says, her voice retaining its unmistakable husky tones.
On my side, there’s me nurturing my man, Bob, and he’s nurturing this bald eagle that we raised.” Just off the bedroom, Novak’s studio is filled with easels and works in progress.
While the talk about her film career seems of only passing interest to her, and at moments not even that, Novak lights up when discussing her art.
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“So Bob said, ‘You’ve got to get rid of that thing!
’ And I told him, ‘You’re bringing two kids into the relationship.
“On Bob’s side of the bed this is his fantasy,” she shows me. Here it becomes the elk he dreams about, the tail of the elk becomes a rein.
We’re careening across her sprawling 240-acre ranch in southern Oregon in the open-roof 4x4, bounding off-road over hillocks, crashing through the rushing river that runs through her property and swerving to avoid a llama sitting in the road. A venerated screen siren of the Fifties and Sixties, she was stung by bad parts and bad reviews, including the tepid response to her performance in Vertigo.
Recently voted the greatest film of all time, back in 1958 Vertigo was widely regarded as a Hitchcock misfire.
A gigantic stone fireplace dominates the living room, designed by Novak and made of river rocks; it has birds’ nests set in tiny inlets with the face of Novak’s guardian angel shaped out of the stones.
Around the house, the wood walls are filled with Novak’s oil paintings.