Kay Adams-Corleone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Katherine Adams-Corleone
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams in The Godfather
First appearance The Godfather
Last appearance The Godfather's Revenge
Created by Mario Puzo
Portrayed by Diane Keaton
Gender Female
Family Corleone family
Spouse(s) Michael Corleone (1951-60, divorced)
2nd husband Douglas
Children Mary Corleone, Anthony Corleone
Religion Roman Catholic (converted from Baptist)
For similar names, see Kaye Adams (disambiguation)

Katherine "Kay" Corleone (née Adams) (born 1924) is a fictional character in Mario Puzo's The Godfather. She was portrayed by Diane Keaton in Francis Ford Coppola's trilogy of films based on the novel.[1]

Fictional biography[edit]

Kay is a native of Hanover, New Hampshire, and the daughter and only child of a Baptist minister. She is the longtime girlfriend and eventual wife of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), the son of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), and the future don of the Corleone crime family.

Kay went to Dartmouth College to study to be a teacher. She met Michael, also a student at Dartmouth, in 1945, and they fell in love. As a non-Italian, she is somewhat of an outsider from the beginning and symbolizes Michael's initial desire to live a more Americanized life. When she and Michael attend his sister Connie's (Talia Shire) wedding, they sit at a table separate from the rest of the family. In the book, the other guests notice that Kay's manner is more free than they have come to expect from an unmarried woman.

She is a fan of the singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino), although she is stunned when Michael tells her the story of how his father "helped Johnny in his career" by threatening to kill his manager unless he released Fontane from his contract.

After the failed assassination attempt on his father, Michael kills Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and NYPD Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden). He leaves the country without saying goodbye to Kay, and takes refuge in Sicily, where he falls in love with and marries a local young woman, Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli). Kay has no knowledge of Michael's exile and takes a job as a teacher in her hometown. She tries to get Corleone family consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) to deliver a letter to Michael, but Hagen turns it down lest it be used in court proceedings to prove that the family had "knowledge of his whereabouts". During this time, she develops a close relationship with Michael's mother, Carmela (Morgana King).

Apollonia is killed by a car bomb intended for Michael, and some months later he returns to the United States. More than a year after his return he meets Kay and they reunite, although she is dismayed when Michael tells her that he is now working for his father. She agrees to marry him after he promises to make the family completely legitimate within five years. In the novel, Kay is informed by Carmela Corleone of her son's return and invites her over to see him. Michael tells her that until the family goes legitimate, there are certain parts of his life that he can't share with her. She does not know at the time about his marriage to Apollonia. In the novel he admits that he had been with one other woman since their separation.

They have two children, Anthony and Mary. They are born within two years of each other, leading Michael to joke that Kay is "more Italian than Yankee." Kay replies that Michael is "more Yankee than Italian" because he always takes his work home with him.

Michael becomes the new Don in 1955 after his father's death. When a hysterical Connie accuses Michael of orchestrating a wave of murders — including that of her husband, Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo) — Kay asks Michael if his sister is telling the truth. Michael initially refuses to tell her, but when she presses him, he lies to her and tells her that he is innocent. However, immediately afterward, Kay sees Michael receiving his caporegimes, and sees Peter Clemenza (Richard Castellano) greet him as the new Don. Kay realizes that Connie was telling the truth, and that her husband has become his father's successor in every way. (In the novel, she flees to New Hampshire with their children, but Hagen persuades her to return.)

Kay converts to Catholicism, going to Mass every day to pray for her husband's soul (just as Mama Corleone had done for Vito). An early draft of the film's script had it ending with Kay lighting candles for Michael.[2]

The Godfather Part II[edit]

At the beginning of The Godfather Part II (set in 1958-60), Kay, who is pregnant with the couple's third child, implores Michael to fulfill his promise of legitimizing the family business. Michael makes a sincere effort to break the family's criminal ties, but his escalating war with rival Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) and his personal obsession with revenge keeps him trapped in the criminal underworld. On the night after Anthony's First Communion, assassins machine-gun Michael and Kay's bedroom while the family take refuge in the sitting room. Soon afterward, Kay suffers an apparent miscarriage.

Kay grows increasingly disgusted with Michael's criminal life; in particular, she is appalled that Michael's button men have become Anthony's closest playmates. While the family is in Washington to attend a Senate hearing on organized crime, Kay tells Michael she is leaving him and taking the children with her. During the ensuing argument, she tells him that she did not miscarry, but had actually had an abortion to avoid bringing another son into Michael's criminal family. Enraged, Michael slaps Kay in the face and banishes her from the family; the two are soon divorced.

Michael initially keeps his children. When Kay comes to Michael's house to visit them (with Connie's help), Michael coldly closes the front door in her face.

The Godfather Part III[edit]

By the time of The Godfather Part III (set in 1979-82), Kay is remarried to a prosecutor named Douglas, and Michael has granted them custody of Anthony (Franc D'Ambrosio) and Mary (Sofia Coppola). He and Kay have not been in contact since 1971. They have an uneasy reunion at a family gathering, where Anthony tells Michael he wants to quit law school and become an opera singer; Kay supports his decision, but Michael wants him to finish his studies or go into the "family business". An argument ensues, in which Kay tells him that both she and Anthony know that Michael ordered the murder of his brother Fredo (John Cazale) 20 years earlier, and that she "dreads" him. They reach a truce after Michael agrees to let Anthony leave law school.

They begin to rekindle their relationship when she joins Michael in Sicily to watch Anthony's debut. Over lunch with Kay, he asks her forgiveness for everything he has done. Michael tells Kay that he had a very different destiny planned for them; he is sorrowful that he has lost her, and tells her that he still loves her. Kay then tearfully admits that she still loves him and always will. They reconcile and see Anthony's operatic debut, Cavalleria Rusticana, together in Palermo. However, their daughter Mary is killed in an assassination attempt on her father. Michael and Kay are last seen weeping over Mary's body. It is unknown if she was still alive at the time of Michael's death in 1997.

Sequel novels[edit]

Kay appears as a supporting character in The Godfather Returns (2004) and The Godfather's Revenge (2006), Mark Winegardner's two sequels to Puzo's original novel. The novels expands upon the early days of her relationship with Michael, her gradual estrangement from him, and her life after divorcing him.


  1. ^ "The Godfather (1972)". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  2. ^ Puzo, Mario and Coppola, Francis Ford. (1971, 29 March). THE GODFATHER, The Internet Movie Script Database