The Lady Behind Big Eyes

I have always loved her work but never knew anything about her.  I'm speaking of  Margaret Keane.  I surely did not know that her husband Walter had taken credit for her paintings.  

Margaret says in the story that goes with photo above, "Christoph did a wonderful job, I think he's portrayed Walter exactly as he was, but I think Walter was maybe a little crazier!

I feel so sorry for what this lady must have gone through.  Painting, creating, working so hard at what she loved only to let her husband at the time, take the credit for her work.  The movie Big Eyes is playing in our city now.  I want to see it.  

I decided to find out a little move about this talented artist whose work I grew up seeing and loving. I share with you today...

 Behind the smiles:  Walter Keane could not paint, but took credit for his wife Margarets portrayals of wide-eyed children that became beloved by celebrities.  The couple are pictured in 1963 credit

credit  Walter Keane Interview - Merv Griffin Show 1966
Walter, it must be said could not paint, a fact Margaret would seize upon, when finally in a court case in a 1986-21 years after they divorced-she was declared to be the true creator of the paintings.
The verdict came only after a judge asked both Margaret and Walter to paint in court.
Walter claimed he had a sore shoulder and could not pick up a brush.
Margaret was awarded $4 million, but she never saw a penny of it as Walter, an alcoholic, had drunk his fortune away.  A court psychologist diagnosed him with a rare mental condition called delusional disorder.
Walter died in 200 and making the decision to turn her life story and what was once so painful into a movie, was not an easy decision, Margaret read more there.

Locked up and forced to paint:  Although this November 1961 photo shows Walter and Margaret Keane busy painting actress Natalie Wood in her Bel Air home, they would divorce four years later and Margaret would tell how she was locked up while Walter took credit for her work....

Facebook Page here
Actress Amy Adams with Margaret Keane

Credit and About The Artist Margaret D. H. Keane
 (born Peggy Doris Hawkins 1927 in Tennessee)

(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Weinstein Company) 
Read more of the story here

Los Angeles, CA.-December 09 2014:  Artist Margaret Keane (L) and daughter Jane Ulbrich onstage during The Weinstein Company's "Big Eyes" Los Angeles special screening in partnership with Lexus at Ace Hotel.  

I can't wait to see the movie.  The photo collage below is as close to her version of artwork that we could afford. They are cute and I still have these in storage.  Chuck and I were just married living close to the army base in the early 70s.  My sister came to visit and we went shopping at a dime store nearby.  I loved the big eye look so she bought me these shown in the picture below...or some of them I can't remember.  We had a great time..I do remember that.

found these photos online and put them in the collage the photos are not my own.

It is evident that Margarets work influenced others.  It really made an impact.  She started something with her Big Eye art and others copied.  Flattery I suppose when anyone copies what others like so much...but She is the one that started this and I'm glad to have lived at a time to see her works and buy what we could afford (the look)  at the time to decorate our humble army community apartment. memories...

I have to go see this movie now for sure!

Join me


  1. I had the ones of the girls with mandolins when I was a kid. I have been trying for years to find them at antique stores . I never know they were by a famous painter.

    1. Those were not but I just shared some of mine that came out at a time when the others were being painted..But I don't know exactly what they would be worth today...Need to find out..

  2. I am looking forward to this movie. I actually had a poster print of the Harlequin Girl in my room when I was young. Her story is fascinating. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. xo

  3. It's a wonderful movie 5 stars one. However Margaret's story deserves to be remembered and recounted forever. Such a great soul artist 🎨


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