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Kay Adams

"Is it true?"
―Kay Adams[src]

Katherine "Kay" Michelson (née Adams), formerly Kay Corleone, was the long-term girlfriend, then second wife and soulmate, of Michael Corleone. She is a schoolteacher by profession and the mother of Anthony and Mary Corleone.


Kay was born to Thornton Adams, a Baptist pastor from New Hampshire, and his wife Agnes Adams. Kay and her family lived in the small town of Hanover, home to Dartmouth College which Michael attended. Kay herself was an excellent student and attended a different college because Dartmouth was then all-male. She and Michael fell in love after meeting in Hanover in 1945. Though Kay and Michael believed their relationship to be a secret, Kay's concerned parents had read some of her mail and discovered the truth, but did not disapprove of the relationship.

As a non-Italian, she was somewhat of an outsider from the beginning and symbolized Michael's initial desire to live a more Americanized life, in contrast to the Corleone family's criminal enterprises. She attended Connie's wedding with Michael, and most of the guests thought her to be somewhat more free-spirited than they'd come to expect from an unmarried woman. Kay was taken aback when Michael told her how his father helped Johnny Fontane's career by threatening to kill his manager, but Michael assured her "That's my family Kay, not me".

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Kay & Michael Christmas shopping (1945)


Kay was independent, intelligent, and educated; traits that Michael had fallen for. Michael saw Kay as his light, as the good in him. (In the books) during their relationship, they would often joke about sexist beliefs in his culture.

Michael and Kay

Michael and Kay at Connie's wedding. (1945)

After Michael kills Sollozzo and McCluskey to avenge the assassination attempt on his father in 1946, he and Kay are forcibly separated while he takes refuge in Sicily. On at least one occasion, she asked Tom Hagen to give Michael a letter, but Tom refused out of concern for possible criminal liability. In the meantime, Kay graduated from college and took a job as an elementary school teacher in her hometown. During this time, she developed a warm relationship with Michael's mother, Carmela, who encouraged her to move on from Michael.

Michael and Kay at Connie's wedding.

Michael and Kay at Connie's wedding. (1945)

While Michael is in hiding, Michael becomes lonely and lustful after their separation. So, while still having Kay in his mind and heart, he marries a local teen Apollonia Vitelli, who was tragically killed by a car bomb intended for Michael.


He returned to the United States two years later and traveled to New Hampshire to reunite with Kay. Michael was able to quickly move on from Apollonia's death since he had only lusted after her due to being lonely from his forcible separation from Kay. By this time, Michael had been named as his father's heir apparent, and Kay was surprised and confused to find out Michael was now fully immersed in his family's criminal enterprises. However, after Michael promises to make the Corleone family completely legitimate within five years, Kay agrees to marry him, with the understanding that there were certain parts of his life that they couldn't share. Kay is unaware that Michael was a widower when he returned to America. She did, however, notice that he was somewhat rougher in bed when they had sex.

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Michael asks Kay to marry him.

Kay and Michael (deleted scene)

Kay and Michael (deleted scene)

Kay eventually had two children with Michael, Anthony and Mary. They were 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 brings his work home with him.

Michael becomes the operating head of the Corleone family in 1954 and succeeds his father as Don after his death a year later. When a hysterical Connie accused Michael of orchestrating a wave of murders — including that of her husband, Carlo Rizzi — Kay asked Michael if his sister was telling the truth. Michael initially refused to tell her, but in response to her repeated pleas, falsely denies that he is responsible. Immediately afterward, Michael received his caporegimes, and Peter Clemenza kissed Michael's hand and greeted him as "Don Corleone". Unknown to them, Kay watched the whole thing. She realized Connie was telling the truth after all, and her husband has become his father's successor in every way. Horrified, she initially fled back to New Hampshire with their children, but Tom Hagen eventually persuaded her to return. Upon her return, Kay converted to Catholicism, going to Mass every day to pray for her husband's soul, just as Carmela had done for Vito.

Life in Nevada[]

Kay Lake Tahoe

Kay at Lake Tahoe.

Kay is still very isolated from the decisions Michael makes as the new Don. However, she is not content to be as docile as Carmela had been. During her third pregnancy, she implores Michael to fulfill his promise of legitimizing the family business, as seven years have passed despite his promise that the family would be legitimate in five. Michael makes a sincere effort to break the family's criminal ties, but his escalating war with rival Hyman Roth keeps him trapped in the criminal underworld and his obsession with revenge.

Kay and Michael dancing

Kay and Michael dancing

As the couple are in their bedroom; Kay lying on their bed and Michael is giving her affection. When assassins sent by Roth attempt to kill Michael by shooting through the windows of Kay and Michael's bedroom. Michael drops to the floor, crawls to her, and uses the blankets to make her fall to the floor to cover her with his body to protect her while comforting her.

Michael uses the blankets to make Kay fall from the bed

(1.) Michael makes Kay fall.

Michael protects Kay

(2.) Michael protects Kay

Michael comforts Kay

(3.) Michael comforts Kay

Everyone manages to escape unharmed. Michael then leaves to attempt to find and deal with the perpetrators of the assassination, leaving Tom Hagen in charge. Hagen, under Michael's orders, refuses to let Kay leave the Lake Tahoe compound.

The abortion[]

"Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn't a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that's unholy and evil. I didn't want your son, Michael! I wouldn't bring another one of your sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael! It was a son! A son! And I had it killed because this must all end!"
―Kay Adams[src]

Kay is increasingly repulsed by Michael's criminal life, particularly the fact that Michael's button men have become Anthony's playmates. She also fears that if the baby turns out to be another son, it will tie them to the Mafia forever. During Michael's trip to Cuba, Kay decides to leave Michael for good. In the hope of not having another child that will be forced in that type of environment; she sets her plan in motion by secretly aborting the baby and passing it off as a miscarriage, a decision that will forever haunt her.

A few months later, the Senate's investigation of Michael collapses when Michael intimidates turncoat capo Frank Pentangeli into recanting his testimony against him. After the hearing, Kay tells Michael that she is leaving him and taking the children with her. Michael, under the belief that she miscarried, tries to convince her to stay, promising that he would change, but Kay is unwilling to Michael’s lies and finally reveals the truth to him – her "miscarriage" was an abortion. Enraged, he hits her across the face; the two are soon after divorced.

Michael hits Kay after their fight which will led to their divorce.

Michael hits Kay.

Initially, Michael retained custody of the children, but sometime after ordering Fredo Corleone's murder, he relinquished them to Kay. They had a somewhat frosty relationship over the years, which grew even chillier when Anthony told her that Michael had ordered the death of his uncle Fredo.

The Final Argument[]

"I know now that it's over. I knew it then. There would be no way, Michael - no way that you could ever forgive me. Not with this "Sicillian thing" that's been going on for 2000 years!"
―Kay Adams[src]
"You won't take my children, Kay."
―Michael Corleone[src]
"I... I will!"
―Kay Adams[src]
―Michael Corleone[src]
"They're my children too!"
―Kay Adams[src]
Michael confesses his love to Kay.

Michael apologizes to Kay (1980).

A New Life[]

By 1979, Kay and Michael had not been in contact since 1971, and Kay had remarried to Douglas Michelson, a lawyer not involved in organized crime. Michael has extracted himself from criminal enterprises and has even sold the casinos, and he has been given an honor comparable to knighthood by the Pope, in recognition of his charitable work. They have an uneasy reunion, in which Kay says she dreads seeing Michael. She also says that as far as she is concerned, Michael is more dangerous as a businessman than he is as a Don. They agree to a truce after Michael reluctantly consents to permit their son, Anthony, to leave law school and become an opera singer.

Kay and Michael begin to reconcile when Kay joins the family in Sicily to watch Anthony's debut. Despite Kay being a married woman, Michael flirts with her and tries to win her over. - While having lunch together, Michael asks Kay's forgiveness for giving in to his desire for revenge 20 years earlier, and admits he truly intended to live an honest life, telling her, "I had a whole different destiny planned." Kay admits that she still loves Michael. However, shortly afterward, Calò breaks the news that Don Tommasino has been murdered. Kay hears Calò screaming revenge, and muses, "It never ends."

Nonetheless, Kay and Michael are still attempting to begin a new life together when their daughter, Mary is killed in an assassination attempt on Michael. This tragedy breaks Michael's spirit, and he withdraws from society until his lonely death in 1997 in Bagheria, Sicily, during which time Kay and Anthony presumably break with Michael permanently.


Loving Kay & Michael

Affectionate Kay and Michael.

“Michael loved Kay when he met her, he loved Kay all throughout his life and he loves her to this day. Michael not only loves Kay but he also admires her.” - Al Pacino

"I have no doubt that Michael really really loved Kay and she is the one who means the most to him.” -Francis Coppola

"You were all that I loved and valued most in this world. And now I'm losing you. I lost you anyway. You're gone." -Michael Corleone[src]

"I have always loved you, Michael." -Kay Adams[src]

Unlike many of the Corleone wives, Kay would often ask questions. She was known to be intelligent, free-spirited, and the woman that Michael loved until the end of his days. She was even able to convince Michael to let their son Anthony drop out of Law school so he could complete his dream.

Despite being the representation of his "American Dream", she was also the representation of his humanity, of the goodness in him. Michael often frowned upon his culture's treatment of women, so he saw Kay as his equal even during the sexist times of the 1940s. Whenever Michael made a decision, Kay was always on his mind.

Kay was known to be a gentle and kind mother who wanted the best for her children but was stuck in a unfortunate situation, in her life, and in her marriage due to Michael lying to her countless times, trying to protect her. If Michael had changed earlier, had he begun to open to Kay; Michael and Kay could have stayed married together, spending their retirement years in Sicily.

However, even after the divorce and Kay remarrying, Michael was still devoted to Kay. Including Kay, who confessed to Michael that she still loved him. Despite being hurt and blindsided by the abortion, Michael believed that she was still his beloved, even wearing his wedding ring for more than ten years and referring to her as his wife.

Michael Corleone was devoted, passionate, and in love with Kay Adams from the moment they met until his very last breath, showing the amount of influence Kay had on him and the Corleone family.

Martin Puzo( The writer of The Godfather books) has written about the passionate love between Michael and Kay, especially Michael, in detail. Francis Coppola( director of The Godfather movies), and Al Pacino(starred as Michael Corleone) have both expressed the undying love, Michael has for Kay. Many people say that Coppola often disapproves of fans who try to state otherwise.


Behind the scenes[]

  • Diane Keaton who plays Kay Adams had been in love with Al Pacino who plays Michael Corleone during the making of the movies, both of them having a romance in the late eighties, and early nineties but they shortly broke up after filming The Godfather iii.
  • Kay was portrayed in all 3 films by Diane Keaton. She was a relatively unknown actress at the time of the first film. While she didn't garner an Oscar nomination for her performance, it is considered a career-making role for her.
  • While the scene where Kay fled to New Hampshire was removed from the first film, it appeared in drafts of the sequel script.
  • Michael's pursuit of Kay was partly motivated by the fact that she was free-spirited, she was the humanity in Michael in which he lacked.
  • Michael was desperate to have a white-Americanized life Ironically, Michael himself would be used in the same way, when he married Apollonia Vitelli. To the Vitelli family, Michael was seen as an American compared to them, who were native Italians.
  • In Mark Winegardner's Puzo-estate authorized novels The Godfather Returns and The Godfather's Revenge, Kay's abortion is a miscarriage. She lied and told Michael that it was an abortion, knowing that he would never forgive her for it and would allow her to get a divorce. Sometime after their divorce, Kay confesses the truth to Michael.

Notes and references[]