Back in December, the Hollywood legend Kim Novak made the sad announcement that Robert Malloy, her veterinarian husband of 44 years, had passed away. Now, Novak is opening up about how she is coping in the wake of this devastating tragedy.

In the wake of Malloy’s passing, Novak said she has turned to painting to help deal with her grief.

“It was just this Thanksgiving when he passed and right away I started painting his portrait,” Novak, 88, told Closer Weekly. “People thought that must be too painful, but it wasn’t. Working on his portrait — I gave him just that little bit of a smile because he had a wonderful sense of humor — it made me feel like he was there with me. Through art, I was able to bring him right into my studio.”

As for the secret to their long-lasting marriage, Novak said it was humor as well as a mutual love for animals.

“Bob’s secret was that great sense of humor. We also had a shared love of animals. We’d both ride our Arabian horses together,” she said. “I had been married once before, [to English actor Richard Johnson], but it didn’t suit me to be married to an actor. Bob and I shared so much in common.”

When asked what advice she would give to people looking for happiness, Novak replied, “I think to be happy, you have to know yourself. You have to know what you really want and what your values are. If you really pay attention to what makes you happy or sad, laugh or cry, that will tell you if what you are doing is right. It’s a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Though she’s close to 90 and recently widowed, Novak is focused on the future, and she’s excited for whatever life throws at her next.

“I feel like I am on a really good path and just want to stick to it,” she said. “I’m very proud of my artwork. I don’t have my life partner to share it with, but I do have the whole world to share my art with. I’m not lonely in the same way that someone else might be.”

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