It's not easy to toil away in darkness, but for decades that's exactly what Margaret Keane did.
The darkness was the shadow of her husband, famed painted Walter Keane. But, Walter didn't truly deserve his fame, as Margaret was the one secretly painting the wide-eyed portraits for which he was known.
From the get-go, Walter began taking credit for Margaret's work — which he said was necessary in order to sell the paintings. “He said: ‘We need the money. People are more likely to buy a painting if they think they’re talking to the artist. People don’t want to think I can’t paint and need to have my wife paint. People already think I painted the big eyes and if I suddenly say it was you, it’ll be confusing and people will start suing us.’ He was telling me all these horrible problems,” Margaret says.
Margaret tried to teach him how to paint like she did, but it was no use. While she painted in secret behind closed curtains, Walter sold prints and postcards in the millions. Margaret didn't see any of that money herself.
She continued to paint for him even after they divorced, but only for a while. In 1970, Margaret told the whole story to a reporter.
But, things didn't end there. Walter took her to court, where the judge ordered the two of them to paint a big-eyed portrait in front of him. Margaret won the case, but it was a bittersweet victory.
After seeing the movie, Margaret told the Guardian, "I really think I was in shock for a couple of days. Christoph Waltz – he looks like Walter, sounds like him, acts like him. And to see Amy going through what I went through…It’s very accurate. Then it started to dawn on me how fantastic the movie is."