Buster Keaton
Actor and filmmaker
Buster Keaton
Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face". Buster Keaton (his lifelong stage name) was recognized as the seventh-greatest director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Biography
Buster Keaton's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Buster Keaton from around the web
Jay Leno To Perform At MGM Grand At Foxwoods Saturday, Aug. 27 - Hartford Courant
Google News - over 5 years
But if you watch a comedy from 1920s, with Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, it's just as funny, even funnier. A big, fat, rich guy falling into a mud puddle in a tuxedo has always been funny. Hypocrisy has always been funny. Maybe today, it just comes
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Malmesbury Carnival's feast of music - Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard
Google News - over 5 years
Local pianist Kes Smith is providing a new musical accompaniment to a showing of Buster Keaton's epic silent film The General tomorrow night (AUG26)at St Mary's Hall. He has devised the score to complement the action on the screen
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'Modern Family' Star To Portray Fatty Arbuckle For HBO - Screen Rant
Google News - over 5 years
The title of both the book and upcoming film may sound like a bad joke, but it actually originated with Buster Keaton, who once commented on Arbuckle's troubles. Keaton stated: “But one day in September, 1921, all of the laughter stopped
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Eric Stonestreet, HBO Team for Fatty Arbuckle Telefilm - Hollywood Reporter
Google News - over 5 years
Arbuckle (1887-1933) was a silent film star, comedian, director and screenwriter who mentored Charile Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope. The popular comedian also had his troubles: in 1921 Arbuckle was accused of raping and accidentally
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School field to be named after Buster Keaton - Muskegon Chronicle - MLive.com
Google News - over 5 years
By Lynn Moore | The Muskegon Chronicle The ball field at Muskegon's Bluffton Elementary will be named after Buster Keaton whose family summered in the area around the school located just steps from Lake Michigan. The board of education agreed to a
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Merkin Concert Hall Announces the 2012 New York Guitar Festival - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
... Dan Zanes, Keller Williams, Kaki King, Califone & others TBA Some of today's most distinctive and influential guitarists premiere original scores for silent films by one of the greatest comic actor/directors in the history of cinema: Buster Keaton
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Buster Keaton classics coming to Ogunquit's Leavitt Theatre Aug. 21 - Seacoastonline.com
Google News - over 5 years
OGUNQUIT — Silent film returns to the big screen at the Leavitt Theatre in August with a matinee program of classic Buster Keaton comedies accompanied by live music. The screening, at 2 pm on Sunday, Aug. 21 at the historic Leavitt Theatre,
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Retrospective on great silent film comedians Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton - 7thSpace Interactive (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
Another great comedian from the silent era was Buster Keaton, the "Great Stone Face", renowned for his spectaculars of stunts and comic effects. Representative works depicting their different creative performances in comedy will be shown in the next
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BOOKS OF THE TIMES; ‘The Family Fang’ by Kevin Wilson - Review
NYTimes - over 5 years
The little boy and girl sing plaintively for a crowd. In front of them an open guitar case bears a handwritten note reading: “Our dog needs an operation. Please help us save him.” The audience members show sympathy for these two sad kids until, out of the blue, a man starts heckling. “You’re terrible!” he shouts.
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ARTS & LEISURE; Male Archetypes in the Movies: Big Baby to Brave Boy
NYTimes - over 5 years
THERE are times, particularly during the summer, when the big screen seems overrun with the alpha and omega of contemporary masculinity: the big babies of comedies and the hard-bodied manly men of superhero fantasies. There are a handful of other types in play, yet even these represent a fairly limited spectrum, from the idealized to the abject.
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THIS LAND; A Son Follows Giant Footsteps Into the Big Tent
NYTimes - over 5 years
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- Down Clown Alley, in the backstage tent for Circus Smirkus, a slight boy of 14 studies his clown self in a jagged piece of mirror. This is Sam Ferlo, the son of a former circus clown and a former circus showgirl, and the godson of a man once known as the Human Cannonball. Guess what Sam wants to join when he grows up. Seeing the
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Blu Monday: July 12, 2011 - We Are Movie Geeks
Google News - over 5 years
Synopsis: Authorized by the Buster Keaton estate and mastered in HD from 35mm archival film elements, The Short Films Collection gathers all of Keaton's solo silent comedies in one monumental three-disc set. Widely considered to be among Keaton's
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San Francisco Silent Film Festival reels in the years - San Francisco Examiner
Google News - over 5 years
Watching Buster Keaton with your Netflix subscription on your laptop can't compete with the Mighty Wurlitzer organ of the Castro Theatre, which will get a significant workout during the 16th San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which runs from Thursday
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One year later, Crandell holding its own - Albany Times Union
Google News - over 5 years
It will mark the occasion by showing Buster Keaton's 1926 classic silent film "The General" and a short silent film from 1927 called "Dog Shy." Bernie Anderson will provide live piano accompaniment to both films. The movies start at 7 pm, and admission
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RIC president “adopts” RI Historical Society film - RIC News and Events
Google News - over 5 years
From epics such as DW Griffith's “The Birth of a Nation” to slapstick the comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the silent film era is often associated with Hollywood. But a little known film fact is that some of these forerunners to the
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Billy Beck, Character Actor and Clown, Dies at 86 - Patch.com
Google News - over 5 years
But to many of us, he'll be most fondly remembered as a sad clown, the character he invented in the streets of Paris in the 1940s and portrayed on the stage of the famed Cirque Medrano, along with Buster Keaton and other legendary sad clowns
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Buster Keaton - Short Films Collection: 1920 - 1923 - DVD Talk
Google News - over 5 years
In 1920 producer Joe Schenck bought Charlie Chaplin's old movie studio, renamed it Keaton Studios, and turned it over to Buster Keaton. His instructions were simple: make eight two-reel comedies a year, and for the next couple of years that's exactly
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Buster Keaton
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1966
    Age 70
    Despite being diagnosed with cancer in January 1966, he was never told that he was terminally ill or that he had cancer; Keaton thought that he was recovering from a severe case of bronchitis.
    More Details Hide Details Confined to a hospital during his final days, Keaton was restless and paced the room endlessly, desiring to return home. In a British television documentary about his career, his widow Eleanor told producers of Thames Television that Keaton was up out of bed and moving around, and even played cards with friends who came to visit the day before he died. Keaton was interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California. Keaton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: 6619 Hollywood Boulevard (for motion pictures); and 6321 Hollywood Boulevard (for television). Jacques Tati is described as "taking a page from Buster Keaton's playbook." A 1957 film biography, The Buster Keaton Story, starring Donald O'Connor as Keaton was released. The screenplay, by Sidney Sheldon, who also directed the film, was loosely based on Keaton's life but contained many factual errors and merged his three wives into one character. A 1987 documentary, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, won two Emmy Awards.
  • 1965
    Age 69
    His final appearance on film was a 1965 safety film produced in Toronto, Canada, by the Construction Safety Associations of Ontario in collaboration with Perini, Ltd. (now Tutor Perini Corporation), The Scribe.
    More Details Hide Details Keaton plays a lowly janitor at a newspaper. He intercepts a request from the editor to visit a construction site adjacent to the newspaper headquarters to investigate possible safety violations. Keaton died shortly after completing the film.
    Keaton's last commercial film appearance was in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), which was filmed in Spain in September–November 1965.
    More Details Hide Details He amazed the cast and crew by doing many of his own stunts, although Thames Television said his increasingly ill health did force the use of a stunt double for some scenes.
    Also in 1965, he traveled to Italy to play a role in Due Marines e un Generale, co-starring alongside the famous Italian comedian duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia.
    More Details Hide Details In 1987 Italian singer-songwriters Claudio Lolli and Francesco Guccini wrote a song, "Keaton", about his work on that film.
    In 1965, Keaton starred in the short film The Railrodder for the National Film Board of Canada.
    More Details Hide Details Wearing his traditional pork pie hat, he travelled from one end of Canada to the other on a motorized handcar, performing gags similar to those in films he made 50 years before. The film is also notable for being Keaton's last silent screen performance. The Railrodder was made in tandem with a behind-the-scenes documentary about Keaton's life and times, called Buster Keaton Rides Again, also made for the National Film Board, which is twice the length of the short film. He played the central role in Samuel Beckett's Film (1965), directed by Alan Schneider.
    In November, 1965, he appeared on the CBS television special A Salute To Stan Laurel which was a tribute to the late comedian (and friend of Keaton's) who had died earlier that year.
    More Details Hide Details The program was produced as a benefit for the Motion Picture Relief Fund and featured a plethora of celebrities, including Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye, Phil Silvers, Gregory Peck, Cesar Romero, and Lucille Ball. In one segment, Ball and Keaton do a silent sketch on a park bench with the two clowns wrestling over an oversized newspaper, until a policeman (played by Harvey Korman) breaks up the fun. The skit called "A Day in the Park" was filmed and broadcast in color. It marked the only time Ball and Keaton worked together in front of a camera.
  • 1964
    Age 68
    Keaton starred in four films for American International Pictures: 1964's Pajama Party and 1965's Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and Sergeant Deadhead.
    More Details Hide Details As he had done in the past, Keaton also provided gags for the four AIP films in which he appeared. Those films' director, William Asher, who cast Keaton, recalled,
    In 1964, Keaton appeared with Joan Blondell and Joe E. Brown in the final episode of ABC's circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth, starring Jack Palance.
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  • 1962
    Age 66
    Keaton also found steady work as an actor in TV commercials, including a series of silent ads for Simon Pure Beer made in 1962 by Jim Mohr in Buffalo, New York in which he revisited some of the gags from his silent film days.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1960
    Age 64
    Keaton played time-traveler Mulligan, who traveled from 1890 to 1960, then back, by means of a special helmet.
    More Details Hide Details In January 1962, he worked with comedian Ernie Kovacs on a television pilot tentatively titled "Medicine Man," shooting scenes for it on January 12, 1962—the day before Kovacs died in a car crash. "Medicine Man" was completed but not aired. It can, however, be viewed, under its alternate title A Pony For Chris on an Ernie Kovacs DVD set.
    In 1960, Keaton returned to MGM for the final time, playing a lion tamer in a 1960 adaptation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
    More Details Hide Details Much of the film was shot on location on the Sacramento River, which doubled for the Mississippi River setting of Twain's original book. In 1961, he starred in The Twilight Zone episode "Once Upon a Time", which included both silent and sound sequences.
    In August 1960, Keaton accepted the role of mute King Sextimus the Silent in the national touring company of Once Upon A Mattress, a successful Broadway musical.
    More Details Hide Details Eleanor Keaton was cast in the chorus, and during rehearsals, she fielded questions directed at her husband, creating difficulties in communication. After a few days, Keaton warmed up to the rest of the cast with his "utterly delicious sense of humor", according to Fritzi Burr, who played opposite him as his wife Queen Aggravaine. When the tour landed in Los Angeles, Keaton invited the entire cast and crew to a spaghetti party at his Woodland Hills home, and entertained them by singing vaudeville songs.
  • 1959
    Age 63
    He recovered in the 1940s, remarried, and revived his career to a degree as an honored comic performer for the rest of his life, earning an Academy Honorary Award in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details Many of Keaton's films from the 1920s, such as Sherlock Jr. (1924), The General (1926), and The Cameraman (1928), remain highly regarded, with the second of these three widely viewed as his masterpiece. Among its strongest admirers was Orson Welles, who stated that The General was cinema's highest achievement in comedy, and perhaps the greatest film ever made. Keaton was recognized as the seventh-greatest film director by Entertainment Weekly, and in 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 21st greatest male star of classic Hollywood cinema. Keaton was born into a vaudeville family in Piqua, Kansas, the small town where his mother, Myra Keaton (née Cutler), happened to go into labor. He was named "Joseph" to continue a tradition on his father's side (he was sixth in a line bearing the name Joseph Keaton) and "Frank" for his maternal grandfather, who disapproved of his parents' union. Later, Keaton changed his middle name to "Francis". His father was Joseph Hallie "Joe" Keaton, who owned a traveling show with Harry Houdini called the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company, which performed on stage and sold patent medicine on the side.
  • 1958
    Age 62
    In December 1958, Keaton was a guest star as Charlie, a hospital janitor who provides gifts to sick children, in a special Christmas episode of The Donna Reed Show on ABC.
    More Details Hide Details The program was titled "A Very Merry Christmas". He returned to the program in 1965 in the episode "Now You See It, Now You Don't". The 1958 episode has been included in the DVD release of Donna Reed's television programs. Actor Paul Peterson, a regular on "The Donna Reed Show," recalls in the book The Fall of Buster Keaton (2010, Scarecrow Press) that Keaton "put together an incredible physical skit. His skills were amazing. I never saw anything like it before or since."
  • 1957
    Age 61
    On April 3, 1957, Keaton was surprised by Ralph Edwards for the weekly NBC program This Is Your Life.
    More Details Hide Details The half-hour program, which also promoted the release of the biographical film The Buster Keaton Story with Donald O'Connor, summarized Keaton's life and career up to that point.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1954
    Age 58
    Also in 1954, Keaton and his wife Eleanor met film programmer Raymond Rohauer, with whom the couple would develop a business partnership to re-release Keaton's films.
    More Details Hide Details Around the same time, after buying the comedian's house, the actor James Mason found numerous cans of Keaton's films. Among the re-discovered films was Keaton's long-lost classic The Boat. The Coronet Theatre art house in Los Angeles, with which Rohauer was involved, was showing The General which "Buster hadn't seen... in years and he wanted me to see it," Eleanor Keaton said in 1987. "Raymond recognized Buster and their friendship started." Rohauer in that same article recalls, "I was in the projection room. l got a ring that Buster Keaton was in the lobby. I go down and there he is with Eleanor. The next day I met with him at his home. I didn't realize we were going to join forces. But I realized he had this I-don't-care attitude about his stuff. He said, 'It's valueless. I don't own the rights.'" Keaton had prints of the features Three Ages, Sherlock, Jr., Steamboat Bill, Jr., College (missing one reel) and the shorts "The Boat" and "My Wife's Relations", which Keaton and Rohauer had transferred to safety stock from deteriorating nitrate film stock. Unknown to them at the time, MGM also had saved some of Keaton's work: all his 1920-1926 features and his first eight two-reel shorts.
    In 1954, Keaton played his first television dramatic role in "The Awakening", an episode of the syndicated anthology series Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents.
    More Details Hide Details About this time, he also appeared on NBC's The Martha Raye Show.
  • 1950
    Age 54
    In 1950, Keaton had a successful television series, The Buster Keaton Show, which was broadcast live on a local Los Angeles station.
    More Details Hide Details Life with Buster Keaton (1951), an attempt to recreate the first series on film and so allowing the program to be broadcast nationwide, was less well received. He also appeared in the early television series Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town. A theatrical feature film, The Misadventures of Buster Keaton, was fashioned from the series. Keaton said he canceled the filmed series himself because he was unable to create enough fresh material to produce a new show each week. Keaton also appeared on Ed Wynn's variety show. At the age of 55, he successfully recreated one of the stunts of his youth, in which he propped one foot onto a table, then swung the second foot up next to it, and held the awkward position in midair for a moment before crashing to the stage floor. I've Got a Secret host Garry Moore recalled, "I asked (Keaton) how he did all those falls, and he said, 'I'll show you'. He opened his jacket and he was all bruised. So that's how he did it—it hurt—but you had to care enough not to care."
  • 1949
    Age 53
    In 1949, comedian Ed Wynn invited Keaton to appear on his CBS Television comedy-variety show, The Ed Wynn Show, which was televised live on the West Coast.
    More Details Hide Details Kinescopes were made for distribution of the programs to other parts of the country since there was no transcontinental coaxial cable until September 1951. He had an essentially non-speaking role in Sunset Boulevard (1950), in the bridge-playing scene where he utters the word "pass" twice, providing additional weight to the silent era echoes of the movie.
    Critics rediscovered Keaton in 1949 and producers occasionally hired him for bigger "prestige" pictures.
    More Details Hide Details He had cameos in such films as In the Good Old Summertime (1949), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). In In The Good Old Summertime, Keaton personally directed the stars Judy Garland and Van Johnson in their first scene together where they bump into each other on the street. Keaton invented comedy bits where Johnson keeps trying to apologize to a seething Garland, but winds up messing up her hairdo and tearing her dress. Keaton also had a cameo as Jimmy, appearing near the end of the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Jimmy assists Spencer Tracy's character, Captain C. G. Culpepper, by readying Culpepper's ultimately-unused boat for his abortive escape. (The restored version of that film, released in 2013, contains a restored scene where Jimmy and Culpeper talk on the telephone. Lost after the comedy epic's "roadshow" exhibition, the audio of that scene was discovered, and combined with still pictures to recreate the scene.) Keaton was given more screen time in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966). The appearance, since it was released after his death, was his posthumous swansong.
  • FORTIES
  • 1940
    Age 44
    In 1940, Keaton married Eleanor Norris (July 29, 1918 – October 19, 1998), who was 23 years his junior.
    More Details Hide Details She has been credited by Jeffrey Vance with saving Keaton's life by stopping his heavy drinking and helping to salvage his career. The marriage lasted until his death. Between 1947 and 1954, they appeared regularly in the Cirque Medrano in Paris as a double act. She came to know his routines so well that she often participated in them on TV revivals.
    Keaton's personal life had stabilized with his 1940 marriage, and now he was taking life a little easier, abandoning Columbia for the less strenuous field of feature films.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout the 1940s, Keaton played character roles in both "A" and "B" features. He made his last starring feature El Moderno Barba Azul (1946) in Mexico; the film was a low budget production, and it may not have been seen in the United States until its release on VHS in the 1980s, under the title Boom In The Moon.
  • 1939
    Age 43
    In 1939, Columbia Pictures hired Keaton to star in ten two-reel comedies, running for two years.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1937
    Age 41
    When the series lapsed in 1937, Keaton returned to MGM as a gag writer, including the Marx Brothers films At the Circus (1939) and Go West (1940), and providing material for Red Skelton.
    More Details Hide Details He also helped and advised Lucille Ball in her comedic work in films and television.
  • 1936
    Age 40
    When they divorced in 1936, it was again at great financial cost to Keaton.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1935
    Age 39
    The singular event that triggered Scriven filing for divorce in 1935 was her finding Keaton with Leah Clampitt Sewell (libertine wife of millionaire Barton Sewell) on July 4 the same year in a hotel in Santa Barbara.
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    Keaton's personal favorite was the series' debut entry, Pest from the West, a shorter, tighter remake of Keaton's little-viewed 1935 feature The Invader; it was directed not by White but by Del Lord, a veteran director for Mack Sennett.
    More Details Hide Details Moviegoers and exhibitors welcomed Keaton's Columbia comedies, proving that the comedian had not lost his appeal. However, taken as a whole, Keaton's Columbia shorts rank as the worst comedies he made, an assessment he concurred with in his autobiography. The final entry was She's Oil Mine, and Keaton swore he would never again "make another crummy two-reeler."
  • 1934
    Age 38
    In 1934, Keaton accepted an offer to make an independent film in Paris, Le Roi des Champs-Élysées.
    More Details Hide Details During this period, he made another film, in England, The Invader (released in the United States as An Old Spanish Custom in 1936). Upon Keaton's return to Hollywood, he made a screen comeback in a series of 16 two-reel comedies for Educational Pictures. Most of these are simple visual comedies, with many of the gags supplied by Keaton himself, often recycling ideas from his family vaudeville act and his earlier films. The high point in the Educational series is Grand Slam Opera, featuring Buster in his own screenplay as an amateur-hour contestant.
  • 1933
    Age 37
    Keaton was at one point briefly institutionalized; however, according to the TCM documentary So Funny it Hurt, Keaton escaped a straitjacket with tricks learned during his vaudeville days. In 1933, he married his nurse, Mae Scriven, during an alcoholic binge about which he afterwards claimed to remember nothing (Keaton himself later called that period an "alcoholic blackout").
    More Details Hide Details Scriven herself would later claim that she didn't know Keaton's real first name until after the marriage.
    Keaton was so demoralized during the production of 1933's What!
    More Details Hide Details No Beer? that MGM fired him after the filming was complete, despite the film being a resounding hit.
  • 1932
    Age 36
    After attempts at reconciliation, Talmadge divorced Keaton in 1932, taking his entire fortune and refusing to allow any contact between Keaton and his sons, whose last name she had changed to Talmadge.
    More Details Hide Details Keaton was reunited with them about a decade later when his older son turned 18. With the failure of his marriage and the loss of his independence as a filmmaker, Keaton lapsed into a period of alcoholism. In 1926, Keaton spent $300,000 to build a home in Beverly Hills designed by architect Gene Verge, Sr., which was later owned by James Mason and Cary Grant. Keaton's "Italian Villa" can be seen in Keaton's film Parlor, Bedroom and Bath. Keaton later said, "I took a lot of pratfalls to build that dump." The house suffered approximately $10,000 worth of damage from a fire in the nursery and dining room in 1931. Keaton was not at home at the time, and his wife and children escaped unharmed, staying at the home of Tom Mix until the following morning.
  • 1928
    Age 32
    However, MGM did allow Keaton some creative participation on his last originally developed/written silent film The Cameraman, 1928, which was his first project under contract with them, but hired Edward Sedgwick as the official director.
    More Details Hide Details Keaton was forced to use a stunt double during some of the more dangerous scenes, something he had never done in his heyday, as MGM wanted badly to protect its investment. "Stuntmen don't get laughs," Keaton had said. Some of his most financially successful films for the studio were during this period. MGM tried teaming the laconic Keaton with the rambunctious Jimmy Durante in a series of films, The Passionate Plumber, Speak Easily, and What! No Beer? The latter would be Keaton's last starring feature in his home country. The films proved popular. (Thirty years later, both Keaton and Durante had cameo roles in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, albeit not in the same scenes.) In the first Keaton pictures with sound, he and his fellow actors would shoot each scene three times: one in English, one in Spanish, and one in either French or German. The actors would phonetically memorize the foreign-language scripts a few lines at a time and shoot immediately after. This is discussed in the TCM documentary Buster Keaton: So Funny it Hurt, with Keaton complaining about having to shoot lousy films not just once, but three times.
    Keaton signed with MGM in 1928, a business decision that he would later call the worst of his life.
    More Details Hide Details He realized too late that the studio system MGM represented would severely limit his creative input. For instance, the studio refused his request to make his early project, Spite Marriage, as a sound film and after the studio converted, he was obliged to adhere to dialogue-laden scripts.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1921
    Age 25
    In 1921, Keaton married Natalie Talmadge, sister-in-law of his boss, Joseph Schenck, and sister of actresses Norma Talmadge and Constance Talmadge.
    More Details Hide Details She co-starred with Keaton in Our Hospitality. The couple had two sons, Joseph, aka Buster Keaton Jr. (June 2, 1922– February 14, 2007), and Robert Talmadge Keaton (February 3, 1924– July 19, 2009), later both surnamed Talmadge. After the birth of Robert, the relationship began to suffer. Influenced by her family, Talmadge decided not to have more children, and this led to the couple staying in separate bedrooms. Her financial extravagance (she would spend up to a third of his salary on clothes) was another factor in the breakdown of the marriage. Keaton dated actress Dorothy Sebastian beginning in the 1920s and Kathleen Key in the early 1930s.
  • 1920
    Age 24
    In 1920, The Saphead was released, in which Keaton had his first starring role in a full-length feature.
    More Details Hide Details It was based on a successful play, The New Henrietta, which had already been filmed once, under the title The Lamb, with Douglas Fairbanks playing the lead. Fairbanks recommended Keaton to take the role for the remake five years later, since the film was to have a comic slant. After Keaton's successful work with Arbuckle, Schenck gave him his own production unit, Buster Keaton Comedies. He made a series of two-reel comedies, including One Week (1920), The Playhouse (1921), Cops (1922), and The Electric House (1922). Keaton then moved to full-length features. Keaton's writers included Clyde Bruckman, Joseph Mitchell, and Jean Havez, but the most ingenious gags were generally conceived by Keaton himself. Comedy director Leo McCarey, recalling the freewheeling days of making slapstick comedies, said, "All of us tried to steal each other's gagmen. But we had no luck with Keaton, because he thought up his best gags himself and we couldn't steal him!" The more adventurous ideas called for dangerous stunts, performed by Keaton at great physical risk. During the railroad water-tank scene in Sherlock Jr., Keaton broke his neck when a torrent of water fell on him from a water tower, but he did not realize it until years afterward. A scene from Steamboat Bill Jr. required Keaton to run into the shot and stand still on a particular spot. Then, the facade of a two-story building toppled forward on top of Keaton.
    He appeared in a total of 14 Arbuckle shorts, running into 1920.
    More Details Hide Details They were popular and, contrary to Keaton's later reputation as "The Great Stone Face", he often smiled and even laughed in them. Keaton and Arbuckle became close friends, and Keaton was one of few people to defend Arbuckle's character during accusations that he was responsible for the death of actress Virginia Rappe.
  • 1917
    Age 21
    In February 1917, Keaton met Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle at the Talmadge Studios in New York City, where Arbuckle was under contract to Joseph M. Schenck.
    More Details Hide Details Joe Keaton disapproved of films, and Buster also had reservations about the medium. During his first meeting with Arbuckle, he asked to borrow one of the cameras to get a feel for how it worked. He took the camera back to his hotel room, dismantled and reassembled it. With this rough understanding of the mechanics of the moving pictures, he returned the next day, camera in hand, asking for work. He was hired as a co-star and gag man, making his first appearance in The Butcher Boy. Keaton later claimed that he was soon Arbuckle's second director and his entire gag department.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1914
    Age 18
    In 1914, Keaton told the Detroit News: "The secret is in landing limp and breaking the fall with a foot or a hand.
    More Details Hide Details It's a knack. I started so young that landing right is second nature with me. Several times I'd have been killed if I hadn't been able to land like a cat. Imitators of our act don't last long, because they can't stand the treatment. Keaton claimed he was having so much fun that he would sometimes begin laughing as his father threw him across the stage. Noticing that this drew fewer laughs from the audience, he adopted his famous deadpan expression whenever he was working. The act ran up against laws banning child performers in vaudeville. According to one biographer, Keaton was made to go to school while performing in New York, but only attended for part of one day. Despite tangles with the law and a disastrous tour of music halls in the United Kingdom, Keaton was a rising star in the theater. Keaton stated that he learned to read and write late, and was taught by his mother. By the time he was 21, his father's alcoholism threatened the reputation of the family act, so Keaton and his mother, Myra, left for New York, where Buster Keaton's career swiftly moved from vaudeville to film.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1899
    Age 3
    At the age of three, Keaton began performing with his parents in The Three Keatons. He first appeared on stage in 1899 in Wilmington, Delaware.
    More Details Hide Details The act was mainly a comedy sketch. Myra played the saxophone to one side, while Joe and Buster performed on center stage. The young Keaton would goad his father by disobeying him, and the elder Keaton would respond by throwing him against the scenery, into the orchestra pit, or even into the audience. A suitcase handle was sewn into Keaton's clothing to aid with the constant tossing. The act evolved as Keaton learned to take trick falls safely; he was rarely injured or bruised on stage. This knockabout style of comedy led to accusations of child abuse, and occasionally, arrest. However, Buster Keaton was always able to show the authorities that he had no bruises or broken bones. He was eventually billed as "The Little Boy Who Can't Be Damaged," with the overall act being advertised as "'The Roughest Act That Was Ever in the History of the Stage." Decades later, Keaton said that he was never hurt by his father and that the falls and physical comedy were a matter of proper technical execution.
  • 1895
    Born
    Born on October 4, 1895.
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