Husband Kenneth MacKenna
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Katherine Edwina "Kay" Francis (née Gibbs, January 13, 1905 – August 26, 1968) was an American stage and film actress. Alexis Mdivani's reputation as a princely playboy spread through affairs with well-known beauties, for example with the model Toto Koopman and with the American actress Kay Francis.
After a brief period on Broadway in the late 1920s, Francis moved to film and achieved her greatest success between 1930 and 1936, when she was the number one female star at the Warner Brothers studio and the highest-paid American film actress. Some of her film-related material and personal papers are available to scholars and researchers in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives.
Kenneth MacKenna married Kay Francis on January 17, 1931. They divorced in February 1934.
The early George Cukor has a sly impulse to tweak the prevailing culture. That's part of the reason he so adored Zoe Akins, turning to her story, "Girls About Town," for the freewheeling knockout of a picture starring Kay Francis and Lilyan Tashman in 1931. One review called Girls About Town "very gay, very gay," adding, "Naughty, but nice enough to get by Papa Hays and the censors."
Francis married five times. Her diaries, preserved in an academic collection at Wesleyan University, paint a picture of a woman whose personal life was often in disarray. Kay Francis, queen of the Warner Brothers lot before being bumped by Bette Davis, was certainly "in the life." Costume designer Miles White recalled an "all-gay" pool party at Francis' house in the 1930s; that Francis was lesbian was something he and others simply presumed. She had a checkered marital history, five husbands, no children, many lovers. Her name turned up in the gossip columns often linked to gay men, who were in truth merely pals and escorts. Anderson Lawler, was reportedly paid $10,000 by Warner Bros. to accompany her to Europe in 1934. Lawler told the writer George Eells that while they were in London, Kay, roaring drunk and totally nude, walked into his hotel room and declared, "I'm not a star, I'm a woman, and I want to get fucked." Asked by Eells how he "handled the crisis," Lawler replied: "I earned my ten thousand dollars." Eells, gay himself, went to some pains to deny lesbianism or bisexuality on Francis' part, citing her personal diaries that reveal long-term, anguished feelings over her various husbands and male lovers. He quoted an unnamed friend as admitting, however, that there may have been some affairs with women: "But that wasn't where her head was. There was never the slightest doubt that she was man-oriented."
In 1966, Francis was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy, but the cancer had spread and proved fatal. Having no living immediate family members, Francis left more than $1,000,000 to The Seeing Eye, which trains guide dogs for the blind. She died in 1968, aged 63, and her body was immediately cremated; her ashes were scattered.
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