Screen legend Kim Novak is best known for Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo.’ Now a rare public appearance at the Oscars (pictures and video below) puts her in the news and in cross hairs of speculation over her face and the extent of her plastic surgery.

Kim Novak

Photo: Kim Novak
Credit: PR Photos

At the 86th Academy Awards, the 81-year-old blond actress was a presenter for Best Animated Short and Best Animated Feature alongside Matthew McConaughey who later went on to win Best Actor for ‘Dallas Buyers Club.’

It was an unfortunate coincidence that one of the winners was Disney’s ‘Frozen.’ This proved irresistible bait for Twitter trolls who exploited the metaphor and began to make cruel jokes the gist of which, labeling Kim Novak’s face ‘frozen.’ From there speculation over Botox and other cosmetic procedures were distilled into 140 characters and vicious taunts.

While it was undeniable that her face was significantly altered, and showed tightness and puffiness — some took it as an opportunity to exercise their cruel cleverness, as if we were now suddenly all back in school and bullies ruled the hallways with their menacing presence. As Kim Novak thus became a trending topic on Twitter some civil and compassionate Twitter users came to her defense.

One such defender Tweeted, “Kim Novak! No standing ovation?! Self-obsessed and disrespectful, that sums up the Oscar audience.” Another Tweeted: “If we weren’t obsessed w/ advertisers youth craze, Kim Novak may not have had the surgery everyone’s tweeting about. It’s OK to be 81.” Yet another summed up the downside of social media, Tweeting: “People making fun of Kim Novak on Twitter is why we can’t have nice things.”

What began on Twitter quickly spread to major media and now suddenly we have a story, such as it is, and certainly a testament to our culture and society’s views on aging, especially as pertains to women. As with weight loss, it is a no-win situation. As celebrities and public figures cave to pressure to remain youthful and seek some remedies, the results may not always be favorable. And yet if they choose to do nothing at all, they become thus reminders of the aging and mortality and fears of same that fuel some of this cruelty.

Kim Novak made her last big screen appearance in the early 1990s, and no doubt some of those joining a chorus of bullying voices may not know of her work and her place in cinematic history alongside other legends of her day, many of whom are no longer with us.

The point is not to gawk but to remember that life has its phases and its passages and youth does not span from birth to the grave. Genetics, bone structure, maintaining health and fitness, and, yes, even getting some cosmetic surgery can yield results which will vary.

Unfortunately, too, when it comes to civility and respect these results also vary. But through it all Kim Novak remains a Hollywood legend who has fought more formidable battles, including breast cancer as well as bipolar disorder, both of which she has disclosed publicly with courage.

Photos: Kim Novak
Credit: PR Photos

(Click twice to enlarge)