WALTER KEANE. ALS: "Walter Keane", 1p, 3¼x6. No place, but
probably La Jolla, California, no date, but circa August 1984.
To comedienne and actress Phyllis Diller. Begins: "Dear Phyllis".
In full: "USA Today story enclosed - Lots of Press many T.V.
appearances. My children spent a month with me in La Jolla - I drove them to
Vancouver - The lady that did the enclosed story said she would do a People's
Magazine story on me when my book is published. All the best dear
friend". Lightly creased. Light paper clip impression at four lines of
writing. Fine condition. Accompanied by newspaper page, 13½x22½. Page 5D
from the Tuesday, July 1, 1984 issue of "USA Today". Keane is featured in an
article by Barbara Kraft. Titled: "Eyes still have it for artist Keane". The
article, which includes a photograph of Keane next to one of his paintings,
mentions that Keane is working on his autobiography and also mentions the
two children, 13-year-old Chantel and 11-year-old Sasha, that Keane mentioned in
his letter to Diller. The article also touches on the litigation brought over
the claim by Keane's second wife that she was the artist behind his famous
works. Lightly creased with folds. Yellowed from age. Overall, fine condition.
Artist WALTER KEANE (1915-2001) is associated with portraits of sad,
doe-eyed children, which he said were inspired by seeing despairing street
children in Berline following WWII. Known for his escapades in San
Francisco's North Beach area, Keane was sued in 1986 by his second wife,
artist Margaret Keane, who claimed to be the creator of the artworks, which
later included big-eyed dogs, giraffes, geishas and adults as well as waifs and
runaways. When the judge ordered both Keanes to paint pictures for the jury,
Margaret produced a portrait of a big-eyed child in less than an hour while
Walter complained of a sore shoulder and refused to paint. A previous "paint
off" in 1970 had also resulted in Margaret producing a painting; Walter
failed to attend. Comedienne PHYLLIS DILLER (1917-2012), known for her outrageous appearance, zany outfits, distinctive laugh
and a stand-up act that featured frequent references to her fictional husband,
"Fang", and zingers about her sex appeal and numerous plastic surgeries, got
her big break in March 1955 (at age 37), when she debuted at San Francisco's
Purple Onion club. A subsequent appearance on The Tonight Show hosted
by Jack Paar launched her national career, which got a big boost after Bob
Hope saw Diller in a Washington, D.C. club. A favorite of the comedian,
Diller would appear in three of Hope's films and 23 of his TV specials.
Diller, who recorded her first comedy record album in 1959, took her
groundbreaking "funny hausfrau" act to nightclubs and television variety shows
and specials and she also appeared on the big screen. Her feature film credits
include Splendor in the Grass (1961), The Fat Spy (1966), Boy,
Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and The
Silence of the Hams (1994), and she provided the voice of the Queen in A
Bug's Life (1998). By 2000, the comedienne, who had trained as a concert
pianist before her marriage (1939-1965) to Sherwood Anderson Diller, had
appeared as a piano soloist with 100 symphony orchestras across the U.S.
Despite retiring from nightclub/stage tours in May 2002 at the age of 84, Diller
continued to make films (Motorcross Kids, 2004; Forget About It,
2005) and occasionally appear on TV programs, including two episodes of 7th
Heaven (2002, 2003) and a guest shot on The Wayne Brady Show (2004).
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