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|
|Spouse(s)||Michael Corleone (1951-60, divorced)
2nd husband Douglas Michelson
|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.
Kay is a native of Hanover, New Hampshire, and the only child of a Baptist minister and his wife. 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.
In 1945, while studying at Dartmouth College to be a teacher, Kay met and fell in love with Michael, also a student there. As a non-Italian, she is an outsider to the Corleones' world, and symbolizes Michael's initial desire to live a more Americanized life, separate from his family. When she and Michael attend his sister Connie's (Talia Shire) wedding, they sit at a table away from the family. In the book, the other guests notice how Kay's manner is freer than expected from an unmarried woman.
Kay is initially unaware that the Corleones are a powerful Mafia family. In the novel, Michael at first attempts to explain his father to her by depicting him as a somewhat unethical business man. When singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) arrives at Connie's wedding reception, Kay, a fan, is surprised that Michael knows him, then stunned when he relates the story of how his father "helped" his godson Johnny's career by threatening to kill his manager unless he released Fontane from his contract.
After a failed assassination attempt on his father, Michael murders Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and Captain Marc McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) a corrupt NYPD cop on Sollozzo's payroll. Michael flees the country without bidding Kay goodbye, and takes refuge in Sicily. While there he falls in love with and marries a young local woman, Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli). Kay has no knowledge of Michael's whereabouts and eventually works as a teacher in her hometown. She asks Corleone family consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) to deliver a letter to Michael, but Hagen refuses lest it be used in court proceedings as proof the family had "knowledge of his whereabouts". During this time, Kay develops a close relationship with Michael's mother, Carmela (Morgana King).
Apollonia is killed in a car bombing targeting Michael. After recovering from his injuries, he returns to the United States. More than a year following his return, he reunites with Kay, although she is dismayed when Michael says he works for his father. She marries him after he promises the Corleone family will be completely legitimate within five years. In the novel, Kay calls Carmela Corleone, who then informs Kay that Michael has returned home. She invites Kay to the Corleone house to see him. Michael wants to marry her, but explains that until the family becomes fully legitimate, he cannot share anything about his business with her. At the time, it appears that Kay knows nothing about Michael's previous marriage. In the novel, he admits to being with one other woman since their separation.
Kay and Michael marry and 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 retorts that Michael is "more Yankee than Italian" because he always takes his work home with him. In the novel, they have two boys.
Michael becomes Don in 1955 after Vito's death. When a hysterical Connie accuses Michael of orchestrating a wave of murders — including her husband, Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo) — Kay asks Michael if it is true. Michael denies any involvement. However, immediately after, Kay observes Michael receiving his caporegime, Peter Clemenza, (Richard Castellano) who respectfully greets him as the new Don. Kay realizes Connie was telling the truth, and that Michael has succeeded his father in every way. In the novel, Kay flees to New Hampshire with their children, despite Connie recanting her accusations. Hagen, at Michael's request, persuades her to return. Hagen risks his own life by revealing to Kay some Corleone family secrets and the "hypothetical" reasons for Michael's actions.
Kay converts to Catholicism, attending Mass daily to pray for her husband's soul (just as Mama Corleone had done for Vito). An early draft of the film's script ended with Kay lighting candles for Michael.
The Godfather Part II
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 continues making a genuine effort to eliminate 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; they barely escape unharmed. Soon after, 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 reveals that she did not miscarry, but had an abortion to avoid bringing another son into Michael's criminal world. Enraged, Michael slaps Kay and banishes her from the family; the two eventually divorce.
Michael initially prevents Kay from seeing their children. When she secretly visits them (with Connie's help), Michael coldly closes the door on her.
The Godfather Part III
By the time of The Godfather Part III (set in 1979-82), Kay is remarried to a prosecutor named Douglas Michelson; Michael has granted them custody of Anthony (Franc D'Ambrosio) and Mary (Sofia Coppola). Michael and Kay, who have had no contact since 1971, have an uneasy reunion at a family gathering. Anthony tells Michael he wants to quit law school to become an opera singer. Kay supports his decision, but Michael wants his son to finish his studies or go into the "family business". An argument ensues, in which Kay tells Michael that both she and Anthony about Michael having his brother Fredo (John Cazale) murdered twenty years earlier. She says she "dreads" him, but they reach a truce after Michael agrees Anthony can leave school.
Michael and Kay rekindle their relationship when Kay joins Michael in Sicily for Anthony's operatic debut. Michael asks Kay's forgiveness and tells her he had a different destiny planned for them; he regrets losing her and confesses he still loves her. Kay admits she will always loves him. They reconcile and attend Anthony's operatic debut, Cavalleria Rusticana, together in Palermo. After the performance, their daughter Mary is killed in an assassination attempt on Michael. He and Kay weep over Mary's body. It is unknown if Kay is still alive when Michael dies in 1997.
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 their divorce.
- "The Godfather (1972)". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- Puzo, Mario and Coppola, Francis Ford. (1971, 29 March). THE GODFATHER, The Internet Movie Script Database