Just as I did for Clark Gable’s fourth wife, Sylvia Ashley, I’ve rounded up newspaper blurbs about his fifth wife, Kay Williams.
Kathleen “Kay” Williams was born on August 7, 1916 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Her father left the family when Kay was very young and so she, her brother Vincent and sister Elizabeth were raised solely by her mother, Joan, on a peach farm. Kay knew her good looks could get her more than Erie could offer, and so she took off for New York at age 17 to become a fashion model in New York. She was soon heralded as “The Most Beautiful Model in the World” and appeared in many print ads. Her first marriage was to a young attorney named Parker Capps. By age 20 she was a divorcee and headed to Hollywood to try her hand at acting. She landed only a few bit parts and was more famous for being seen at nightclubs with famous and rich men. She married Argentine playboy Martin de Alzaga Unzue in late 1942. The marriage was short-lived and she was soon seen Clark Gable’s arm in 1944, but that was suddenly squelched when the newspapers announced they were engaged. They did not communicate for about ten years.
In the meantime Kay met Adolph Spreckels, heir to the Spreckels sugar fortune, and married him in 1945. She had two children: Adolph III (called “Bunker”) in 1949 and Joan in 1951. By 1953 the marriage had deteriorated. They had a very messy divorce, where he accused her of being a heartless gold digger and she told stories of him beating her unconscious with her slipper and threatening her with an axe. Both accused the other of being an alcoholic and Adolph went so far as to accuse her of having an affair with Clark during their marriage.
Out of the blue one day in 1954, Clark called Kay and asked her to dinner. They instantly clicked and were inseparable from then on. Clark asked Kay to marry him as they sat by his pool one day in May 1955. Kay and Clark were married until his death in 1960; she gave birth to their son John Clark in March 1961. Kay died of heart failure in 1983.
So let’s follow Kay through the newspapers.
August 19, 1937:
Had anyone reported reported that Kathleen Williams, famous ciggie ad girl, is the bride of Parker Capps, Erie, Pa., lad?
I am not sure when exactly the Capps marriage began and ended. In the book she wrote about her life with Clark, “Clark Gable: A Personal Portrait,” Kay goes into no detail about her previous marriages so it is no help there. The only mentions of husband #1 and #2: “I made good in New York, professionally, but I made mistakes, personally. Namely, two brief marriages. Both ventures ended in divorce and I headed for a new life in California.”
February 9, 1940:
North East Girl is Most Popular Model
New York–A slim and pretty blonde wearing a yellow tulle gown and a pert hat that looked like a wedding cake was toasted last night by some of the nation’s top flight artists as she prepared to leave February 16 for a 2 week vacation with them.
She is Kay Williams, 23-year-old artists’ model, who was named as “the most popular model of the year” by the 300 members of the Society of Illustrators. The trip was her award and she accompanies the artists to Palm Beach, Fla., as mascot for their annual golf tournament.
Miss Williams, who comes from North East, Pa., near Erie, has been a New York model for three years and has ambitions to be an actress.
March 9, 1940:
Prince Carlo Ruspoli of Italy and Kay Williams, the model from Erie, are an excitem.[sic]
March 18, 1940:
If you took all the models who can be seen crossing 47th and Park between 2 and 3pm, scrambled them up, and divided the mixture into four, you would probably get a quartette of representative beauties who would look and act like Georgia Carroll, Wyn-Nelle Russell, Helen Bennet and Kay Williams. They are all beautiful, all style-setters, and all proof that if you are chic you can get by with murder or unswept hair.
Kay Williams is responsible for the vogue of wearing tiny angora sweaters over bathing suits; she did it one morning in Miami because she was cold and somebody snapped her picture, and from then on not a damsel from 17 to 50 would appear on the sands without a fuzzy sweater over her shoulderblades.
See, next time you throw your angora sweater on over your bikini you can thank Kay for the idea.
April 10, 1940:
Tony Martin: Kay Williams, the model whose name has been linked with yours, is awaiting arrival of Macoco, her South American suitor. Another of Miss Williams’ swains is very hopeful, despite Macoco’s wealth. “You haven’t got a chance against Macoco,” he was warned. “Don’t you know that he’ll monopolize all of her time–because he has three million dollars?”
“Not all of her time,” the Romeo stated. “Because with all that dough he must take time off to count.”
Tony Martin?! That’s interesting. Tony married Cyd Charisse in 1948 and they were married for sixty years until her death.
May 25, 1940:
The two best looking blondes in Manhattan, Puk Paarls and Kay Williams, are waging a polite undeclared war over Macoco, the Latin millionaire. The strategy is great; Puk is going out with Charles Hitchcock, the aviator, while waiting for Macoco to stop going out with Kay, who is going back to visit her home town.
Argentine playboy Macoco would be husband #2 soon. But he wasn’t the only one taking Kay out…
February 17, 1941:
Alexis Thompson is making sure that model Kay Williams doesn’t get too lonely for Macoco.
March 20, 1941:
Biggest moment occurred last week when Kay Williams, the town’s prettiest blonde, lost her skirt (zipper trouble), and stood up to cheer her team in the prettiest pink girdle seen outside a Fifth Ave. store window. You never heard a more enthusiastic crowd!
April 19, 1941:
Argentine millionaire Macoco has a headache–Kay Williams adores a big league manager.
May 9, 1941:
Kay Williams, the model, is wearing a big aquamarine ring from millionaire Macoco.
On again, off again, on again…
November 15, 1941:
Macoco and Kay Williams have reunited, which is making the jewelers sooo [sic] happy!
June 10, 1942:
Macoco, the Argentine mint of the El Morocco set, chased lovely Kay Williams to the coast, but she is busy taking tests at Fox.
June 17, 1942:
That was Kay Williams, another glamorous model, with whom George Montgomery was dancing at the Palladium.
June 18, 1942:
George Montgomery and Kay Williams chose the cocktail hour at the Beverly Tropics for their rendezvous.
George was a good-looking Western actor and stuntman who later married Dinah Shore.
September 18, 1942:
Paulette Goddard and Macoco are a mild hot toddy.
That’s funny. Paulette Goddard later dated Clark, in 1948.
September 26, 1942:
Friends are betting George Montgomery and Kay Williams will name the date in the very dear future.
October 19, 1942:
Biggest torch of the year is being carried by the wealthy Argentine, Macoco, for Kay Williams, who appears in MGM’s “Du Barry Was a Lady.” He was burned up at Kay going with George Montgomery and went to New York to try and forget. But it didn’t work. Now he is bombarding her with long distance telephone calls and with as many as three and four wires a day.
November 2, 1942:
Macoco says he can’t understand the reports that he and Kay Williams have cooled. Insists that the ring she’s wearing is his present.
November 10, 1942:
Aside to George Montgomery–Kay Williams has mailed back a 7 carat diamond engagement ring to Argentine Millionaire Macoco in New York.
How can anybody tell who’s with who at this point!
November 13, 1942:
George Guinle is going to New York to cheer up the wealthy Argentine, Macoco, who is carrying such a torch for Kay Williams. When she went to the studio to pick up her mail the other day, she found 10 airmail letters from Macoco.
November 15, 1942:
Beautiful Kay Williams threw away Argentine millionaire Macoco to romance with George Montgomery. But now George drops all his nickels in the box just to call Lynn Bari.
November 19, 1942:
Macoco has dashed back to the Coast to try to persuade Kay Williams to take back the rings he returned to him.
Well he must have done a good a job persuading as he and Kay were married on November 25, 1942. Oddly I didn’t find any clippings officially announcing the wedding though, just this:
December 3, 1942:
George Guinle, South American man about town, is much in evidence with a very pretty girl. Since Macoco married Kay Williams he is the magnet for all the gals who dream of rich husbands. A big dinner is being planned for Macoco and his bride by John Perona at El Morocco.
December 14, 1942:
The real reason Kay Williams didn’t accompany her bridegroom, Macoco, to New York is because she has been recuperating from the flu in a hospital here. But she is much improved and heads East to join him immediately.
The blurb right above that one, interestingly, was “Brother of the late Carole Lombard, Stuart Peters, now in the navy, soon will see duty overseas.”
December 28, 1942:
Kay Williams, the erstwhile love of George Montgomery and Macoco, her bridegroom of four weeks, definitely have split. He told me when I saw him in New York that he was expecting his bride any day. That was two weeks ago and Kay and her mother are still here. She is telling her friends it is all over; she has ambitions to continue her career but he wanted her to bow out of the movies. He told this writer it was family trouble. But whatever it is it seems to be a permanent break. Wonder if she is keeping the big engagement ring?
One month??!! So much for “til death do us part.”
December 31, 1942:
Kay Williams, down with the flu, visits her attorney later in the week.
February 28, 1943:
Divorce Asked From Hollywood Actress
Hollywood–Apparently discouraged by numerous unsuccessful reconciliation attempts, Martin de Lazaga Unzue, 41, wealthy Argentine sportsman known popularly as Macoco, today filled annulment papers against his wife, Actress Kay Williams, 25.
Judge Isaac Pacht, who handled the proceedings, said Macoco alleged Miss Williams had no intention of carrying out the marriage relationship.
The couple was married November 25, 1942 and separated a few days later.
September 11, 1943:
Divorce Awarded to Actress Kay Williams
Hollywood–A divorce decree today ended the marriage of Actress Kay Williams, 25, and Martin de Alzaga (Macoco) Unzue, 45, wealthy Argentine cattleman.
Judge Harry R. Archbold granted the divorce on Miss Williams’ charge of cruelty. She accused Unzue of “flying into rages” and beating her.
Macoco is out of the picture and here comes Clark Gable and then husband number three…up next!