In the Spring of 1940 Carole started dating Willis Hunt Jr. He was a twenty-seven year old yacht salesman from a wealthy family. Willis was divorced from heiress Dolly Brewer and had a reputation as a playboy who loved to party. He proposed to Carole just two weeks after meeting her. She said "We like to do the same things. I think it will work". Carole's mother Clara Ridste tried to talk her out of marrying Willis but she didn't listen. On July 4, 1940 the couple eloped in Las Vegas. They moved into a modest home at 1816 Prosser Avenue in Los Angeles. Unfortunately Willis became abusive and Carole walked out on him after just two months of marriage.
They were divorced in November 1940. Carole said their break-up made her suffer a nervous breakdown. She told reporters "There I was being so happy, so ecstatic, so delirious, so willing to forsake all others. To stop being Miss Big and try being the Little Woman. He didn't want a Little Woman." Surprisingly Carole and Willis remained friends and continued to go out together. On December 14, 1969 Willis was stabbed to death at the age of fifty-five. His fifth wife, Willia Dean Hunt, was charged with his murder. At her trial she claimed it was self defense and said that she stabbed Willis because he was abusing her. Willia Dean Hunt was found not guilty in 1970.