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She balked at being renamed “Kit Marlowe,” and, incredibly, she won that battle.They compromised on “Kim” Novak—the name of the son of her Chicago friend and business manager, Norma Herbert, then Norma Kasell.He had created the notorious second skin glittering with sequins that Marlene Dietrich wore for her nightclub premiere in Las Vegas in 1953; he would also sew Marilyn Monroe into the sequined formfitting gown she wore when she sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Novak was installed at the Studio Club, a curfewed dormitory for young starlets where Cohn could have his expensive new possession watched around the clock—even tailed by studio detectives to make sure she didn’t follow the wayward path of Rita Hayworth. At some point in the transformation of Marilyn Novak, her studio-assigned publicist, Muriel Roberts, dreamed up an all-lavender scheme and insisted that they rinse her hair with a pale lavender tint.The studio had wanted a gimmick to distinguish its blonde from the many other new platinum blondes on the block: Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, Diana Dors, Joi Lansing—all outsize girls signed to compete with Marilyn Monroe and built like the decade’s big Chevys and Buicks.Cohn wanted to be known as the toughest, meanest mogul in Hollywood.He brandished a riding crop and slashed it across his desk to terrify employees.The man known as “the greatest entertainer in the world” was onstage, the smoke from his cigarette trellising the air.
He was singing to Kim Novak, sitting at a stageside table; she had just finished work on Alfred Hitchcock’s the most challenging film of her career.He kept a framed photograph of his hero, Benito Mussolini, on his massive desk and had his office decorated to look like Il Duce’s.The reporter James Bacon, fresh out of Chicago, was assigned to cover Hollywood for the Associated Press back in 1948. He used to fire people all the time—usually on Christmas Eve.”Henri Soulé, the owner of Le Pavillon and La Côte Basque in New York, detested Cohn and considered him a déclassé Hollywood hood.Her marriage to Khan, a notorious playboy and womanizer, kept her out of pictures for more than two years, infuriating Cohn and further alienating her fans. Cohn wanted her in one of his pet projects, a biblical epic called until her then husband, Haymes, came into Cohn’s office with a marcelled beard and demanded to be cast as Joseph.“I’ll have that son of a bitch back in Argentina,” Cohn exploded.(Haymes, an Argentinean native, was always facing deportation.)Instead, Cohn decided to get back at Hayworth.
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He ran Columbia Pictures as if it were a family business, and in a way it was, because he had wrangled control from his brother Jack, who was back on the East Coast in New York.