As kids, the three du Maurier sisters—Angela, Daphne and Jeanne—had a code. Something “wain” was embarrassing, a “crumb” was a boast, a “tell him” was to be boring, to “nim” was to pee. Someone “beady” was observant. All three girls grew up “beady” themselves.
Behind the Big Eyes: How Walter Keane Cheated His Wife Out of Fame and Fortune
Editor’s note: Adam Parfrey runs perhaps our favorite small press, Feral House Books. If you’re interested in pills, black metal, and apocalyptic death cults, they’re pretty much your one-stop shop. So when Adam sent us a snippet of his new book, Citizen Keane, we jumped at the opportunity to run an excerpt. The subject is Walter and Margaret Keane, 60s pop artists who caused a weird sensation painting kids with big eyes. They’re also the subject of Big Eyes, Tim Burton’s new biopic, which will see wide release this Christmas.
1965 was a year of bug-eyed glory for the former real estate salesman turned pop artist Walter Stanley Keane, who bragged to reporters that he “romped through life with the evident enjoyment of a terrier rolling in a clover patch.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Keane art was seemingly everywhere—from the sales bins at Woolworths to the gilded mansions of Hollywood royalty. As his income surged comfortably into seven figures, Keane decided he would keep things simple. “All that really matters to me,” he explained to an admiring Lifemagazine reporter, “is painting, drinking (which, the way I look at it, includes eating), and loving.” It seemed like the party was just getting started.
Keane’s fortune was made from a style stunning in its simplicity. Weeping waifs. Tearful children. All bearing hypnotic, saucer-sized orbs. It was said that if you looked at them long enough, the distressed children seemed to stare at you, even if you moved about the room. “Let’s face it,” he boasted to Life magazine, “Nobody painted eyes like El Greco, and nobody can paint eyes like Walter Keane.” More discriminating art enthusiasts, critics, and academics didn’t quite agree, finding the paintings formulaic and sickening in their sentimentality. But the rest of America fell in love with Keane’s Big Eyes, and he became a household name.
I give UP. Yes, that’s Bonita Granville, giving off crazy Laura Erika Barring vibes again. That’s pretty much the girl I imagined walking out of the church after Confirmation and hearing the whisper of the Devil upon the leaves. GOD DAMN IT. (If some of you new followers don’t know WTF I’m talking about, it’s this.) She looks innocent and pure but there is a baby vamp within, just waiting to be corrupted… *imagine the usual gif of Torsten’s be-tuxedoed smoking eyefuck here*
Yes, I know. I should be poking medieval Persian fic, but I’m in a Devilry mood today and these pictures aren’t helping. Shall post more (and more vamptastic) reference pics of her in a bit, because I can.
Peggielene Bartels, A.K.A. King Peggy, is currently the King of Otuam, Ghana. She was chosen to be one of only three female kings in Ghana, and when she discovered that male chauvinists wanted her to only be a figurehead, she said: “They were treating me like I am a second-class citizen because I am a woman. I said, ‘Hell no, you’re not going to do this to a woman!’” When she encountered corruption and the threat of embezzlement to the royal funds, she declared “I’m going to squeeze their balls so hard their eyes pop!”
King Peggy has maintained her work in Ghana’s embassy in Washington, D.C. while making education affordable in Otuam, installing borehead wells to produce clean drinking water, enforcing incarceration laws to deal with domestic violence, replenishing the royal coffers by taxing Otuam’s fishing industry to improve life in the village, and appointing three women to her council.
“Nobody should tell you, ‘You’re a woman, you can’t do it,’” she insists. “You can do it. Be ready to accept it when the calling comes.”
Quoted from the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Ms. Magazine.
What a beautiful badass woman.
King Peggy has been on my blog before but this is my goddamn blog and I will have King Peggy on here twice if I want.
MORE FEMALE KINGS.
Always reblog King Peggy, who is on my dash far less than she should be. Did you know she has written a book about her life? It is great, and you should all get right on that if you haven’t already.
It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and, also, scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald (I believe that is how he spells his name) seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.
—Zelda Fitzgerald, in a review of her husband’s book in 1922 (via trishahaddad)
Reminder that F. Scott Fitzgerald stole his wife’s writing, many times, while suppressing her works. See “Save Me the Waltz”, which he forced her to revise so that he could use parts of it in his own book “Tender Is the Night”. And which author do we study in school?
I didn’t know this.
He also encouraged her to have affairs so he could use that for inspiration, and when she wanted to leave him for a man she fell in love with, he locked her in their house and wouldn’t let her leave.
When she wanted to publish “Save me the Waltz,” Fitzgerald wrote in his diary about DELIBERATELY trying to TRIGGER her schizophrenic episodes and making her incapable of fighting that battle.
And Fitzgerald scholars KNOW all this. They write articles about how it was all okay because in the end, it inspired Fitzgerald to write Great Literature.
knife his corpse
NEVER READ ANY OF HIS BOOKS AGAIN. AND READ HERS INSTEAD. CONSIGN HIM TO OBLIVION.
Fuck I didn’t know this fuck ugh god why fuck ugh
Yep. All true. Learned about his trifling ass studying creative writing and English lit. at CSU. Didn’t read ONE of her books on high school, yet we’re taught how amazing and talented he was. Makes me sick. xBx
Dante Gabriel Rosetti did this with Elizabeth Siddal’s drawings, and her contributions to his drawings, as well. Then drove her to suicide by using her as his romantic and sexual scratching post. Then disinterred her body to retrieve the poems he had placed in her open coffin because they were “too good” to let her rest with them. Cool art dudes from history.