Carol Kaye Slams ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ for Misguided Homage: “My Life Is Not a Joke”

From Town & Country

When fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel first realized that one unassuming character—a musician touring with Shy Baldwin and Midge, named “Carole Keen”—was inspired by the trailblazing bassist Carole Kaye, some thought she might be pleased.

But in an interview with the New York Post, Kaye revealed that she felt blindsided by the Maisel homage, and frustrated by how she was portrayed. “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,” Kaye said. “Nobody contacted me. I didn’t know a thing about it. I thought that was pretty bad—kind of like slander.”

The show introduces Keen as another woman pushing back against the era’s inescapable sexism. She offers to talk with Midge, and commiserate about working in male-dominated industries (music, for Keen, and comedy, for Midge).

Photo credit: GAB Archive – Getty Images

The real Kaye did break boundaries as a celebrated bassist in the recording studio, earning credits on tracks by Frank Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, Simon & Garfunkel, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, and many more. “A note doesn’t have sex to it; you either play it good or you don’t. Some people can’t handle that, especially men,” Kaye has said. “They want to think that it was a man who played the bass because of the sexual thing—but when you hear somebody with balls, that’s me.”

But Kaye doesn’t see herself in Maisel‘s Keen. “It’s a Hollywood, silly fluff piece [that has] nothing to do with me or my history,” Kay told the Post. “They took a few things out of my book and created a character that’s not even me at all.”

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