Inspiration for Liza Weil's Marvelous Mrs. Maisel character says show makes 'a joke' of her life
Awards voters may find The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel perfectly marvelous — but the inspiration behind a season 3 character isn’t so hot on the series.
In an interview published Thursday, Carol Kaye, a legendary bassist and studio musician, spoke out against the seeming homage to her life in Liza Weil’s character of Carole Keene. “It’s a Hollywood, silly fluff piece [that has] nothing to do with me or my history,” Kaye told the New York Post. “They took a few things out of my book and created a character that’s not even me at all.”
There are many parallels between Kaye and Weil’s Carole Keene, not the least the similarity in their names. Just as Keene is the only woman in Shy Baldwin’s (Leroy McClain) backing band on tour, Kaye blazed a trail as the only woman in a group of elite studio musicians from the 1950s through the ’70s.
Known as the “First Lady of Bass,” Kaye played on tracks for countless artists including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Tina Turner, and Simon & Garfunkel. She was also known for her distinctive cat-eye glasses, a detail in clear evidence on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
But Kaye is not a fan of what many have perceived as an homage to her life’s work. “A lot of people are saying, ‘That must be you. I love it!’ But I am not a cartoon — and my life is not a joke,” she told the Post. “Nobody contacted me. I didn’t know a thing about it. I thought that was pretty bad — kind of like slander.”
She added, “You have to understand, it’s not easy when you are older and it has nothing to do with you — but people think it is you. Don’t get me wrong, I have a sense of humor — but I am a professional. This is like a putdown to me.”
It’s unclear whether Kaye has actually watched any of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or just merely objects to the idea of using her as inspiration. When EW reached out to her for further comment and clarification as to what aspects of the characterization and plot she specifically objected to, she directed us to read her 2017 autobiography, which published two years before the show’s third season debuted.
Representatives for Amazon Prime Video, and series creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
Rachel Brosnahan stars as Miriam "Midge" Maisel, a 1950s housewife in New York City who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy after her husband leaves her.