|Birth Day:||September 15, 1927|
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Some time in the mid-1950s, Margaret, married with a child, met Walter Keane. As Walter Keane told the story when he was at the height of his popularity, he saw her sitting alone at a "well known North Beach bistro and he was attracted by her large eyes. At the time Walter was also married, worked as a real estate salesman and painted on the side. He would later tell reporters, however, that he had given up his "highly successful real estate career" in 1947. Margaret found him "suave, gregarious and charming." The two married in 1955 in Honolulu.
Keane's first husband was Frank Richard Ulbrich, and they had a daughter together. In 1955, she married Walter Keane. In 1964, she left Walter and divorced him a year later, causing her relocation from San Francisco to Hawaii.
In 1957 Walter began exhibiting the "big eyes" paintings as his own. In February the work was shown on a wall of the Bank of America in Sausalito. He took nine paintings to New Orleans, which he claims to have sold during Mardi Gras. That summer Walter arranged for a showing at the Washington Square Outdoor Art show in New York City. Displaying his talent for promotion, during that trip he arranged for a showing in August at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago and another in a small East Side gallery for the same month.
Hollywood actors Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood and Jerry Lewis commissioned Keane to paint their portraits. In the 1990s, Tim Burton, a Keane art collector and director of the 2014 biographical film Big Eyes about the life of Margaret Keane, commissioned the artist to paint a portrait of his then-girlfriend Lisa Marie. Keane's art was bought and presented to the United Nations Children's Fund in 1961 by the Prescolite Manufacturing Corporation. Keane's big eyes paintings have influenced toy designs, Little Miss No Name and Susie Sad Eyes dolls, and the cartoon The Powerpuff Girls.
In 1970, Keane announced on a radio broadcast she was the real creator of the paintings that had been attributed to her ex-husband Walter Keane. After Keane revealed the truth, a "paint-out" between Margaret and Walter was staged in San Francisco's Union Square, arranged by Bill Flang, a reporter from the San Francisco Examiner and attended by the media and Margaret. Walter did not show up. In 1986, she sued both Walter and USA Today in federal court for an article claiming Walter was the real artist. At the trial, the judge famously ordered both Margaret and Walter to each create a big-eyed painting in the courtroom, to determine who was telling the truth. Walter declined, citing a sore shoulder, whereas Margaret completed her painting in 53 minutes. After a three-week trial, the jury awarded her $4 million in damages. After the verdict Keane said "I really feel that justice has triumphed. It's been worth it, even if I don't see any of that four million dollars." A federal appeals court upheld the verdict of defamation in 1990, but overturned the $4 million damage award. Keane says she doesn't care about the money and just wanted to establish the fact that she had done the paintings.
In Hawaii, Keane met Honolulu sports writer Dan McGuire and married him in 1970. She credits McGuire for helping her to become less timid and afraid after her divorce from Walter. Keane lived in Hawaii for more than 25 years before returning to California in 1991. She currently resides in Napa County, California, with her daughter Jane and son-in-law Don Swigert. In 2017 at the age of 90, Keane began hospice care. She is a Jehovah's Witness.
Currently, Margaret Keane is 94 years, 0 months and 13 days old. Margaret Keane will celebrate 95th birthday on a Thursday 15th of September 2022.
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