Kay Francis


“Beginning a new year - have a resolution to make - not to be a damn fool!" ~ Kay

Kay Francis was born Katharine Edwina Gibbs on January 13, 1905 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Shortly after she was born her father abandoned the family. Her mother was an actress and Kay wanted to follow in her footsteps. At age seventeen she married businessman James Dwight Francis. They divorced two years later. In 1925 she made her Broadway debut and married athlete William Gaston. She appeared in several successful plays and was offered a contract at Paramount. Her career took off quickly and she made twenty-one films between 1929 and 1931. Kay worked with William Powell in numerous films including Jewel Robbery and One Way Passage. After divorcing her husband she married writer John Meehan. She left him when she fell in love with actor Kenneth MacKenna. Kay married Kenneth in 1931 but it didn't last. During this time she had a wild love life that included many one night stands and affairs with women.


By 1936 she was one of Hollywood most popular leading ladies. She became known for playing long suffering heroines in movies like Secrets of an Actress and Comet Over Broadway. Her success ended in 1938 when she was named "box-office poison" by the Hollywood Reporter. The following year she married her fifth husband Eric Barnekow. Sadly this marriage would also end in divorce. Kay never wanted to have children and she had several abortions. In 1942 she joined actresses Carole Landis, Mitzi Mayfair, and Martha Raye on a USO tour to entertain the troops. She also played herself in the musical Four Jills In a Jeep. After appearing in a few low budget movies she decided to quit acting. She moved to New York City and rarely made public appearances. In 1966 she as diagnosed with breast cancer. Kay died on August 26, 1968 at the age of sixty-three. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered.