Buster Keaton


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Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966)[1] was an American actor, comedian, film director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer.[2]

He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoicdeadpan expression, earning him the nickname “The Great Stone Face”.[3][4]

Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton’s “extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, [when] he worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor–director in the history of the movies”.[4]

His career declined afterward with a dispiriting loss of his artistic independence when he was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and he descended into alcoholism, ruining his family life. 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.

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Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)

Many of Keaton’s films from the 1920s, such as Sherlock Jr. (1924), The General (1926), and The Cameraman (1928), remain highly regarded,[5] with the second of these three widely viewed as his masterpiece.[6][7][8]

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.[9] Keaton was recognized as the seventh-greatest film director by Entertainment Weekly,[10] and in 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 21st greatest male star of classic Hollywood cinema.[11]

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Buster Keaton in The General (Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton, 1926)

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Buster Keaton in The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton, 1928)

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Career

Early life in vaudeville

Keaton was born into a vaudeville family in Piqua, Kansas,[12] the small town where his mother, Myra Keaton (néeCutler), was when she went into labor.

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Buster Keaton 6 months old

He was named “Joseph” to continue a tradition on his father’s side (he was sixth in a line bearing the name Joseph Keaton)[1] and “Frank” for his maternal grandfather, who disapproved of his parents’ union.

Later, Keaton changed his middle name to “Francis”.[1] 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.[citation needed]

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Buster Keaton 3 years old

According to a frequently repeated story, which may be apocryphal,[13] Keaton acquired the nickname “Buster” at about 18 months of age. Keaton told interviewer Fletcher Markle that Houdini was present one day when the young Keaton took a tumble down a long flight of stairs without injury.

After the infant sat up and shook off his experience, Houdini remarked, “That was a real buster!” According to Keaton, in those days, the word “buster” was used to refer to a spill or a fall that had the potential to produce injury. After this, Keaton’s father began to use the nickname to refer to the youngster. Keaton retold the anecdote over the years, including a 1964 interview with the CBC‘s Telescope.[14]

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Buster Keaton Aged 5 ready for a performance with his parents on stage – in The Three Keatons

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.

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.

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The Three Keatons – Joe, Myra and Buster Keaton

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”.[15]

Buster Keaton as a child with his parents Joe and Myra

The Three Keatons – Joe, Myra and Buster Keaton

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. In 1914, Keaton told the Detroit News: “The secret is in landing limp and breaking the fall with a foot or a hand. 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.[15]

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Buster Keaton in one of his early roles with The Three Keatons

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.[16]

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.

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Keaton Family Portrait – Joe, Myra, Louise, Harry and Buster

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,[15] so Keaton and his mother, Myra, left for New York, where Buster Keaton’s career swiftly moved from vaudeville to film.[17]

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Keaton Family Portrait – Joe, Myra, Harry and Buster Keaton

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Buster Keaton with his brother Harry

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Keaton Children – Harry, Louise and Buster Keaton

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Buster Keaton portrait in his early performance outfit

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Buster Keaton – early stage roles with The Three Keatons

Keaton served in the United States Army in France with the 40th Infantry Division during World War I. His unit remained intact and was not broken up to provide replacements, as happened to some other late-arriving divisions. During his time in uniform, he suffered an ear infection that permanently impaired his hearing.[18][19]

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Buster Keaton in the Middle with the 40th Division Sunshine Players – WW1

 

Silent film 

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Buster Keaton at 21, making his first film “The Butcher Boy” (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1917)

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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.
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 and 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. He appeared in a total of 14 Arbuckle shorts, running into 1920. They were popular, and contrary to Keaton’s later reputation as “The Great Stone Face”, he often smiled and even laughed in them.
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Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St. John and Alice Lake in The Cook (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1918)
Keaton and Arbuckle became close friends, and Keaton was one of few people, along with Charlie Chaplin, to defend Arbuckle’s character during accusations that he was responsible for the death of actress Virginia Rappe. (Arbuckle was eventually acquitted, with an apology from the jury for the ordeal he had undergone.)[20]

In 1920, The Saphead was released, in which Keaton had his first starring role in a full-length feature. 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.

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Poster for The Saphead, Buster Keaton’s first starring role in a full feature film (Herbert Blache, Winchell Smith, 1920)

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.

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Poster for One Week (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1920)

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Buster Keaton and cast on the set of One Week (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1920)

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Poster for The Playhouse (Edward C Cline, Buster Keaton 1921)

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Buster Keaton in The Playhouse (Edward C Cline, Buster Keaton 1921)

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Lobby card for Cops (Edward S Cline, Buster Keaton, 1922)

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Buster Keaton in Cops (Edward S Cline, Buster Keaton, 1922)

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Swedish film poster for The Electric House (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1922)

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Buster Keaton in The Electric House (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1922)

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![21] The more adventurous ideas called for dangerous stunts, performed by Keaton at great physical risk.
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Buster Keaton discussing gags with Clyde Bruckman on the set
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Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin meet with executives of the Balboa Film Studio
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. Keaton’s character emerged unscathed, due to a single open window. The stunt required precision, because the prop house weighed two tons, and the window only offered a few inches of clearance around Keaton’s body. The sequence furnished one of the most memorable images of his career.[22]
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 Buster Keaton on the set of Steamboat Bill Jr. (Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton, 1928)

Aside from Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), Keaton’s most enduring feature-length films include Our Hospitality (1923), The Navigator (1924), Sherlock Jr. (1924), Seven Chances (1925), The Cameraman (1928), and The General (1926).

Buster Keaton 39 Poster for Our Hospitality (John G Blystone, Buster Keaton, 1923)
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Buster Keaton with Natalie Talmage in Our Hospitality (John G Blystone, Buster Keaton, 1923)
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French poster for The Navigator (Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton, 1924)
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Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire in The Navigator (Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton, 1924)
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Poster for Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)
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Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)
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Poster for Seven Chances (Buster Keaton, 1925)
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Buster Keaton and Ruth Dwyer Seven Chances (Buster Keaton, 1925)
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Poster for The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton, 1928)
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Buster Keaton in The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton, 1928)
The General, set during the American Civil War, combined physical comedy with Keaton’s love of trains, including an epic locomotive chase. Employing picturesque locations, the film’s storyline reenacted an actual wartime incident. Though it would come to be regarded as Keaton’s greatest achievement, the film received mixed reviews at the time. It was too dramatic for some filmgoers expecting a lightweight comedy, and reviewers questioned Keaton’s judgment in making a comedic film about the Civil War, even while noting it had a “few laughs.”[23]
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Poster for The General (Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton, 1926)
It was an expensive misfire, and Keaton was never entrusted with total control over his films again.

His distributor, United Artists, insisted on a production manager who monitored expenses and interfered with certain story elements. Keaton endured this treatment for two more feature films, and then exchanged his independent setup for employment at Hollywood’s biggest studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Keaton’s loss of independence as a filmmaker coincided with the coming of sound films (although he was interested in making the transition) and mounting personal problems, and his career in the early sound era was hurt as a result.[24]

 

Buster Keaton in The General (Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton, 1926)

Sound era and television

Keaton signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1928, a business decision that he would later call the worst of his life. 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. 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.

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Buster Keaton, Jimmy Durante and Polly Moran in The Passionate Plumber (Edward Sedgwick, 1932)

 

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 PlumberSpeak Easily, and What! No Beer?[25] 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.)

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Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily (Edward Sedgwick, 1932)

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 was so demoralized during the production of 1933’s What! No Beer? that MGM fired him after the filming was complete, despite the film being a resounding hit. In 1934, Keaton accepted an offer to make an independent film in Paris, Le Roi des Champs-Élysées. During this period, he made another film, in England, The Invader (released in the United States as An Old Spanish Custom in 1936).[25]

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Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in What-No Beer? (Edward Sedgwick, 1933)

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Buster Keaton in Le Roi Des Champs-Elysees (Max Nosseck, 1934)

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Buster Keaton and Lupita Tovar in The Invader or An Old Spanish Custom (Edwin Greenfield, 1936)

Educational Pictures

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.[26] The high point in the Educational series is Grand Slam Opera, featuring Buster in his own screenplay as an amateur-hour contestant. 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.[27] He also helped and advised Lucille Ball in her comedic work in films and television.[28]

Columbia Pictures[edit]

In 1939, Columbia Pictures hired Keaton to star in ten two-reel comedies, running for two years. The director was usually Jules White, whose emphasis on slapstickand farce made most of these films resemble White’s Three Stooges comedies.

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.

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Buster Keaton in Pest From the West (Del Lord, 1939)

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.[29] The final entry was She’s Oil Mine, and Keaton swore he would never again “make another crummy two-reeler.”[29]

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Buster Keaton in She’s Oil Mine (Jules White, 1941)

1940s and feature films

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.

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.

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Buster Keaton in Boom in the Moon (Jaime Salvador, 1946)

Critics rediscovered Keaton in 1949 and producers occasionally hired him for bigger “prestige” pictures. 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.

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Buster Keaton and Judy Garland in In the Good Old Summertime (Robert Z Leonard, 1949)

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Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson on the set of Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

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Buster Keaton in Around the World in 80 Days (Michael Anderson and John Farrow, 1956)

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.

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Buster Keaton in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Stanley Kramer, 1963)

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.

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Buster Keaton, Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford in A Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Forum (Richard Lester, 1966)

Keaton also appeared in a comedy routine about two inept stage musicians in Charlie Chaplin‘s Limelight (1952), recalling the vaudeville of The Playhouse. With the exception of Seeing Stars, a minor publicity film produced in 1922, Limelight was the only time in which the two would ever appear together on film.

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. Kinescopes were made for distribution of the programs to other parts of the country since there was no transcontinental coaxial cable until September 1951.

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Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin in Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 1952)

1950s–1960s and television

In 1950, Keaton had a successful television series, The Buster Keaton Show, which was broadcast live on a local Los Angeles station.

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.

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Buster Keaton with a television camera at the Hesse State Radio studios in Frankfurt in February, 1962

A theatrical feature film, The Misadventures of Buster Keaton, was fashioned from the series. Keaton said he cancelled 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.”

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The Misadventures of Buster Keaton (Arthur Hilton, 1950)

Unlike his contemporary Harold Lloyd, who kept his films from being televised, Keaton’s periodic television appearances helped to revive interest in his silent films in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1954, Keaton played his first television dramatic role in “The Awakening”, an episode of the syndicated anthology series Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents. About this time, he also appeared on NBC‘s The Martha Raye Show.

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Buster Keaton in The Awakening / Douglas Fairbanks Jr Presents (1954)

Keaton as a time traveller in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone, “Once Upon a Time

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. 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.[30] 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.”

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Buster Keaton and Raymond Rohauer in 1950’s

[31] 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.'”[31] Keaton had prints of the features Three AgesSherlock Jr.Steamboat Bill, Jr.College (missing one reel) and the shorts “The Boat” and “My Wife’s Relations“, which Keaton and Rohauer then 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.[31]

On April 3, 1957, Keaton was surprised by Ralph Edwards for the weekly NBC program This Is Your Life. 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.[32]

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Poster for The Buster Keaton Story (Sidney Sheldon, 1957)

In December 1958, Keaton was a guest star as Charlie, a hospital janitor who provides gifts to sick children, in the episode “A Very Merry Christmas” of The Donna Reed Show on ABC. 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.[33] One of the show’s cast-members, Paul Peterson, recalled that Keaton “put together an incredible physical skit. His skills were amazing. I never saw anything like it before or since.”[34]

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Buster Keaton on Donna Reed Show (1958)

In August 1960, Keaton played mute King Sextimus the Silent in the national touring company of the Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress. Eleanor Keaton was cast in the chorus. After a few days, Keaton warmed 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 Aggravain. When the tour landed in Los Angeles, Keaton invited the cast and crew to a spaghetti party at his Woodland Hills home, and entertained them by singing vaudeville songs.[35]

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. Much of the film was shot on location on the Sacramento River, which doubled for the Mississippi River setting of Twain’s original book.[36]

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Michael Curtiz, 1960)

In 1961, he starred in The Twilight Zone episode “Once Upon a Time“, which included both silent and sound sequences. Keaton played time-traveller Mulligan, who travelled from 1890 to 1960, then back, by means of a special helmet.

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.[37] It can, however, be viewed, under its alternative title A Pony For Chris on an Ernie Kovacs DVD set.

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Buster Keaton in The Twilight Zone (1961)

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.[38]

In 1964, Keaton appeared with Joan Blondell and Joe E. Brown in the final episode of The Greatest Show on Earth, a circus drama starring Jack Palance.

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) who had died earlier that year.

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A Salute to Stan Laurel – Harvey Korman, Lucille Ball and Buster Keaton (1965)

The program was produced as a benefit for the Motion Picture Relief Fund and featured a range of celebrities, including Dick Van DykeDanny KayePhil SilversGregory PeckCesar 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.[39]

Keaton starred in four films for American International Pictures: 1964’s Pajama Party and 1965’s Beach Blanket BingoHow to Stuff a Wild Bikini and Sergeant Deadhead. 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,

I always loved Buster Keaton. I thought, what a wonderful person to look on and react to these young kids and to view them as the audience might, to shake his head at their crazy antics. … He loved it. He would bring me bits and routines. He’d say, ‘How about this?’ and it would just be this wonderful, inventive stuff. A lot of the audience seemed to be seeing Buster for the first time. Once the kids in the cast became aware of who he was, they all respected him and were crazy about him. And the other comics who came in—Paul LyndeDon RicklesBuddy Hackett—they hit it off with him great.[40]

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Buster Keaton in Pajama Party (Don Weis, 1964)

In 1965, Keaton starred in the short film The Railrodder for the National Film Board of Canada. 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.[41]

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Buster Keaton in The Railroader (Gerald Potterton, Buster Keaton, 1965)

He played the central role in Samuel Beckett‘s Film (1965), directed by Alan Schneider; he had previously declined the role of Lucky in the first American stage production of Waiting for Godot, having found Beckett’s writing baffling.[citation needed] 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. In 1987 Italian singer-songwriters Claudio Lolli and Francesco Gucciniwrote a song, “Keaton”, about his work on that film.[citation needed]

notfilm010.onsetbeckettschneiderkeaton

Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett on the set of Film (Alan Schneider, 1965)

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.

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. 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. 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.[42]

MEP2913150

Buster Keaton and Richard Lester on the set of A Funny Thing Has Happened on the Way to the Forum (Richard Lester, 1966)

Style and themes

Use of parody

Keaton started experimenting with parody during his vaudeville years, where most frequently his performances involved impressions and burlesques of other performers’ acts. Most of these parodies targeted acts with which Keaton had shared the bill.[43] When Keaton transposed his experience in vaudeville to film, in many works he parodied melodramas.[43] Other favourite targets were cinematic plots, structures and devices.[44]

Buster Keaton in The Frozen North (1922)

Buster Keaton in The Frozen North (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1922)

 

One of his most biting parodies is The Frozen North (1922), a satirical take on William S. Hart‘s Western melodramas, like Hell’s Hinges (1916) and The Narrow Trail (1917). Keaton parodied the tired formula of the melodramatic transformation from bad guy to good guy, through which went Hart’s character, known as “the good badman”.[45]

He wears a small version of Hart’s campaign hat from the Spanish–American War and a six-shooter on each thigh, and during the scene in which he shoots the neighbor and her husband, he reacts with thick glycerin tears, a trademark of Hart’s.[46] Audiences of the 1920s recognized the parody and thought the film hysterically funny. However, Hart himself was not amused by Keaton’s antics, particularly the crying scene, and did not speak to Buster for two years after he had seen the film.[47] The film’s opening intertitles give it its mock-serious tone, and are taken from “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” by Robert W. Service.[47]

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Lobby card for The Playhouse (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1921)

In The Playhouse (1921), he parodied his contemporary Thomas H. Ince, Hart’s producer, who indulged in over-crediting himself in his film productions. The short also featured the impression of a performing monkey which was likely derived from a co-biller’s act (called Peter the Great).[43] Three Ages (1923), his first feature-length film, is a parody of D. W. Griffith‘s Intolerance (1916), from which it replicates the three inter-cut shorts structure.[43] Three Ages also featured parodies of Bible stories, like those of Samson and Daniel.[45] Keaton directed the film, along with Edward F. Cline.

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Buster Keaton and Margaret Leahy in the Roman Age segment of Three Ages (Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton, 1923)

Body language

The traditional Buster stance requires that he remain upstanding, full of backbone, looking ahead… [in The General] he clambers onto the roof of his locomotive and leans gently forward to scan the terrain, with the breeze in his hair and adventure zipping toward him around the next bend.

It is the anglethat you remember: the figure perfectly straight but tilted forward, like the Spirit of Ecstasy on the hood of a Rolls-Royce… [in The Three Ages], he drives a low-grade automobile over a bump in the road, and the car just crumbles beneath him. Rerun it on video, and you can see Buster riding the collapse like a surfer, hanging onto the steering wheel, coming beautifully to rest as the wave of wreckage breaks.”[51]

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Film critic David Thomson later described Keaton’s style of comedy: “Buster plainly is a man inclined towards a belief in nothing but mathematics and absurdity … like a number that has always been searching for the right equation. Look at his face—as beautiful but as inhuman as a butterfly—and you see that utter failure to identify sentiment.”[49]

Gilberto Perez commented on “Keaton’s genius as an actor to keep a face so nearly deadpan and yet render it, by subtle inflections, so vividly expressive of inner life. His large, deep eyes are the most eloquent feature; with merely a stare, he can convey a wide range of emotions, from longing to mistrust, from puzzlement to sorrow.”[50] Critic Anthony Lane also noted Keaton’s body language:

Film historian Jeffrey Vance wrote:

Buster Keaton’s comedy endures not just because he had a face that belongs on Mount Rushmore, at once hauntingly immovable and classically American, but because that face was attached to one of the most gifted actors and directors who ever graced the screen. Evolved from the knockabout upbringing of the vaudeville stage, Keaton’s comedy is a whirlwind of hilarious, technically precise, adroitly executed, and surprising gags, very often set against a backdrop of visually stunning set pieces and locations—all this masked behind his unflinching, stoic veneer.”[52]

Keaton has inspired full academic study.[53]

Buster Keaton 83

Personal life

 

On May 31, 1921, Keaton married Natalie Talmadge, sister-in-law of his boss, Joseph Schenck, and sister of actresses Norma Talmadge and Constance Talmadge.

She co-starred with Keaton in Our Hospitality. The couple had two sons, Joseph, aka Buster Keaton Jr. (June 2, 1922 – February 14, 2007),[54] and Robert Talmadge Keaton (February 3, 1924 – July 19, 2009),[55] later both surnamed Talmadge.[56] After the birth of Robert, the relationship began to suffer.[13]

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Buster Keaton and Norma Talmage wedding day

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Buster Keaton and Norma Talmage wedding day

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Buster Keaton, Norma Talmage and their children

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[57] in the early 1930s.

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. 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.[13]

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Entrance to Buster Keaton Estate

In 1926, Keaton spent $300,000 to build a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) home in Beverly Hills designed by architect Gene Verge, Sr., which was later owned by James Mason and Cary Grant.[58] 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.[59]

Keaton was at one point briefly institutionalized; according to the TCM documentary So Funny it Hurt, Keaton escaped a straitjacket with tricks learned from Harry Houdini.

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”). Scriven herself would later claim that she didn’t know Keaton’s real first name until after the marriage.

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Buster Keaton and Mae Scriven

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.[60] When they divorced in 1936, it was again at great financial cost to Keaton.[61]

On May 29, 1940, Keaton married Eleanor Norris (July 29, 1918 – October 19, 1998), who was 23 years his junior. She has been credited by Jeffrey Vance with saving Keaton’s life by stopping his heavy drinking and helping to salvage his career.[62]

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Eleanor Norris and Buster Keaton applying for their marriage license May 1940

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.

 

Buster Keaton 90

Eleanor Norris and Buster Keaton

Death

Keaton died of lung cancer on February 1, 1966, aged 70, in Woodland Hills, California.[63] 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.

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.[64]

Keaton was interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood HillsCalifornia.

Buster Keaton 91

Influence and legacy

Buster Keaton  93.jpg

Keaton’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

 

Keaton was presented with a 1959 Academy Honorary Award at the 32nd Academy Awards, held in April 1960.[65] Keaton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: 6619 Hollywood Boulevard (for motion pictures); and 6225 Hollywood Boulevard (for television).

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Buster Keaton receives honorary Academy Award Apr 4, 1960

Jacques Tati is described as “taking a page from Buster Keaton’s playbook.”[66]

A 1957 film biography, The Buster Keaton Story, starring Donald O’Connor as Keaton was released.[27] 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.[67] A 1987 documentary, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, directed by Kevin Brownlowand David Gill, won two Emmy Awards.[68]

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Poster for The Buster Keaton Story (Sidney Sheldon, 1957)

The International Buster Keaton Society was founded on October 4, 1992 – Buster’s birthday. Dedicated to bringing greater public attention to Keaton’s life and work, the membership includes many individuals from the television and film industry: actors, producers, authors, artists, graphic novelists, musicians, and designers, as well as those who simply admire the magic of Buster Keaton. The Society’s nickname, the “Damfinos,” draws its name from a boat in Buster’s 1921 comedy, “The Boat.”

In 1994, caricaturist Al Hirschfeld penned a series of silent film stars for the United States Post Office, including Rudolph Valentino and Keaton.[69] Hirschfeld said that modern film stars were more difficult to depict, that silent film comedians such as Laurel and Hardy and Keaton “looked like their caricatures”.[70]

Buster Keaton 96

Buster Keaton by Al Hirschfeld

Keaton’s physical comedy is cited by Jackie Chan in his autobiography documentary Jackie Chan: My Story as being the primary source of inspiration for his own brand of self-deprecating physical comedy.

Comedian Richard Lewis stated that Keaton was his prime inspiration, and spoke of having a close friendship with Keaton’s widow Eleanor. Lewis was particularly moved by the fact that Eleanor said his eyes looked like Keaton’s.[71]

At the time of Eleanor Keaton’s death, she was working closely with film historian Jeffrey Vance to donate her papers and photographs to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[72][73] The book Buster Keaton Remembered, by Eleanor Keaton and Vance, published after her death, was favorably reviewed.[74][75][76]

Buster Keaton 97

The book Buster Keaton Remembered, by Eleanor Keaton and Vance

In 2012, Kino Lorber released The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection, a 14-disc Blu-ray box set of Keaton’s work, including 11 of his feature films.[77]

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Kino Lorber released The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection 2012

Pork pie hats

Keaton designed and modified his own pork pie hats during his career. In 1964, he told an interviewer that in making “this particular pork pie”, he “started with a good Stetson and cut it down”, stiffening the brim with sugar water.[78]

The hats were often destroyed during Keaton’s wild film antics; some were given away as gifts and some were snatched by souvenir hunters. Keaton said he was lucky if he used only six hats in making a film. Keaton estimated that he and his wife Eleanor made thousands of the hats during his career. Keaton observed that during his silent period, such a hat cost him around two dollars; at the time of his interview, he said, they cost almost $13.[78]

Buster Keaton 99

 

Filmography

Starring Roscoe Arbuckle, featuring Buster Keaton

Release date Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Role
April 23, 1917 The Butcher Boy Buster
June 25, 1917 The Rough House Yes Yes Gardener / Delivery Boy / Cop Co-directed and co-written by Roscoe Arbuckle
August 20, 1917 His Wedding Night Delivery boy
September 30, 1917 Oh Doctor! Junior Holepoke
October 29, 1917 Coney Island Rival / Cop with mustache
December 10, 1917 A Country Hero Vaudeville artist No copies are known to exist
January 20, 1918 Out West Sheriff / Saloon owner
March 18, 1918 The Bell Boy Bellboy
May 13, 1918 Moonshine Revenue agent
July 6, 1918 Good Night, Nurse! Dr. Hampton / Woman with umbrella
September 15, 1918 The Cook Waiter
September 7, 1919 Back Stage Stagehand
October 26, 1919 The Hayseed Manager, general store
January 11, 1920 The Garage Mechanic / Fireman

Starring Buster Keaton

Release date Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Role
September 1, 1920 One Week Yes Yes The groom
October 27, 1920 Convict 13 Yes Yes Gardener / Golfer turned prisoner / Guard
December 22, 1920 Neighbors Yes Yes The boy
December 22, 1920 The Scarecrow Yes Yes Farmhand
February 10, 1921 The Haunted House Yes Yes Bank clerk
March 14, 1921 Hard Luck Yes Yes Suicidal boy
April 12, 1921 The High Sign Yes Yes Our hero
May 18, 1921 The Goat Yes Yes Buster Keaton
October 6, 1921 The Playhouse Yes Yes Audience / Orchestra / Mr. Brown – First Minstrel / Second Minstrel / Interlocutors / Stagehand
November 10, 1921 The Boat Yes Yes The boat builder
January 1922 The Paleface Yes Yes Little Chief Paleface
March 1922 Cops Yes Yes The young man
May 1922 My Wife’s Relations Yes Yes The husband
July 21, 1922 The Blacksmith Yes Yes Blacksmith’s assistant
August 28, 1922 The Frozen North Yes Yes The bad man
October 1922 The Electric House Yes Yes
November 1922 Daydreams Yes Yes The young man
January 22, 1923 The Balloonatic Yes Yes The young man
March 1923 The Love Nest Yes Yes Buster Keaton

Starring Buster Keaton, for Educational Pictures

Release date Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Role
March 16, 1934 The Gold Ghost Yes Wally
May 25, 1934 Allez Oop Yes Elmer
January 11, 1935 Palooka from Paducah Jim Diltz
February 22, 1935 One Run Elmer Yes Elmer
March 15, 1935 Hayseed Romance Elmer Dolittle
May 3, 1935 Tars and Stripes Yes Apprentice seaman Elmer Doolittle
August 9, 1935 The E-Flat Man Elmer
October 25, 1935 The Timid Young Man Milton
January 3, 1936 Three on a Limb Elmer Brown
February 21, 1936 Grand Slam Opera Yes Yes Elmer Butts
August 21, 1936 Blue Blazes Yes Elmer
October 9, 1936 The Chemist Elmer Triple
November 20, 1936 Mixed Magic Yes Elmer “Happy” Butterworth
January 8, 1937 Jail Bait
February 12, 1937 Ditto The forgotten man
March 26, 1937 Love Nest on Wheels Yes Elmer

Starring Buster Keaton, for Columbia Pictures

Release date Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Role
June 16, 1939 Pest from the West Yes Sir
August 11, 1939 Mooching Through Georgia Yes Homer Cobb
January 19, 1940 Nothing But Pleasure Clarence Plunkett
March 22, 1940 Pardon My Berth Marks Elmer – Newspaper Copyboy
June 28, 1940 The Taming of the Snood Buster Keaton
September 20, 1940 The Spook Speaks Buster
December 13, 1940 His Ex Marks the Spot Buster – the husband
February 21, 1941 So You Won’t Squawk Eddie
September 18, 1941 General Nuisance Peter Lamar – Jr.
November 20, 1941 She’s Oil Mine Buster Waters, plumber

Starring Buster Keaton, for independent producers

Release date Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Role
October 15, 1952 Paradise for Buster Buster
October 2, 1965 The Railrodder The man
January 8, 1965 Film The man
January 8, 1966 The Scribe Journalist

Feature films

Starring Buster Keaton

With Buster Keaton, in featured or cameo roles

Television appearances

References

  1. Jump up to:a b c Meade, Marion (1997). Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase. Da Capo. p. 16. ISBN 0-306-80802-1.
  2. Jump up^ Obituary Variety, February 2, 1966, page 63.
  3. Jump up^ Barber, Nicholas (8 January 2014). “Deadpan but alive to the future: Buster Keaton the revolutionary”The Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  4. Jump up to:a b Ebert, Roger (November 10, 2002). “The Films of Buster Keaton”Archived from the original on November 3, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
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  6. Jump up^ Sight & Sound Critics’ Poll (2002): Top Films of All Time”Sight & Sound via Mubi.comArchived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 29,2016.
  7. Jump up^ “Votes for The General (1924)”. British Film Institute. Retrieved September 29,2016.
  8. Jump up^ Andrew, Geoff (January 23, 2014). “The General: the greatest comedy of all time?”Sight & SoundArchived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
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  10. Jump up^ “The 50 Greatest Directors and Their 100 Best Movies”Entertainment Weekly. April 19, 1996. p. 2. Archived from the original on June 26, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
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  12. Jump up^ Stokes, Keith (ed.). “Buster Keaton Museum”. KansasTravel.org. Archivedfrom the original on January 16, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  13. Jump up to:a b c McGee, Scott. “Buster Keaton: Sundays in October”Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved October 19, 2017. Note: Source misspells Keaton’s frequent appellation as “Great Stoneface”.
  14. Jump up^ Telescope: Deadpan an interview with Buster Keaton, 1964 interview of Buster and Eleanor Keaton by Fletcher Markle for the CBC.
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  17. Jump up^ “Part II:The Flickers”. International Buster Keaton Society. October 13, 1924. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  18. Jump up^ Martha R. Jett. “My Career at the Rear / Buster Keaton in World War I”. worldwar1.com.
  19. Jump up^ Master Sergeant Jim Ober. “Buster Keaton: Comedian, Soldier”California State Military Museum.
  20. Jump up^ Yallop, David (1976). The Day the Laughter Stopped. New York: St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 978-0-312-18410-0.
  21. Jump up^ Maltin, Leonard, The Great Movie Comedians, Bell Publishing, 1978
  22. Jump up^ “Reviews : The General/Steamboat Bill Jr”. The DVD Journal. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  23. Jump up^ “Moving Pictures: Buster Keaton’s ‘General’ Pulls In To PFA. Category: Arts & Entertainment from The Berkeley Daily Planet – Friday November 10, 2006”. Berkeleydaily.org. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  24. Jump up^ “Buster-Keaton.com”. Buster-Keaton.com. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  25. Jump up to:a b Everson, William K. American Silent Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. p. 274-5.
  26. Jump up^ Gill, David, Brownlow, Kevin (1987). Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow. Thames Television. pp. Episode three.
  27. Jump up to:a b Knopf, Robert The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton By p.34
  28. Jump up^ Kathleen Brady (May 31, 2014). “Lucille The Life of Lucille Ball – Kathleen Brady”kathleenbrady.net.
  29. Jump up to:a b Okuda, Ted; Watz, Edward (1986). The Columbia Comedy Shorts. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 139. ISBN 0-89950-181-8.
  30. Jump up^ “The House Next Door: 5 for the Day: James Mason”. http://www.slantmagazine.com. August 24, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  31. Jump up to:a b c Lovece, Frank (June 1987). “Where’s Buster? Despite Renewed Interest, Only a Handful of Buster Keaton’s Classic Comedies Are on Tape”VideoArchived from the original on August 31, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  32. Jump up^ “Series Details”. Cinema.ucla.edu. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  33. Jump up^ “”The Donna Reed Show” A Very Merry Christmas (1958)”. Us.imdb.com. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  34. Jump up^ Peterson, Paul, The Fall of Buster Keaton (2010, Scarecrow Press)
  35. Jump up^ Meade, Marion (1997). Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase. Da Capo. p. 284. ISBN 0-306-80802-1.
  36. Jump up^ Crowther, Bosley (August 4, 1960). “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960)”The New York Times.
  37. Jump up^ Spiro, J. D. (February 8, 1962). “Ernie Kovacs’ Last Interview”The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  38. Jump up^ “Buster Keaton For Simon Pure Beer – Brookston Beer Bulletin”Brookston Beer Bulletin. 2015-10-04. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  39. Jump up^ This is mentioned on p. 202 in The Lucy Book by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman (Renaissance Books).
  40. Jump up^ Lovece, Frank (February 1987). “Beach Blanket Buster”VideoArchived from the original on August 31, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  41. Jump up^ “Buster Keaton Rides Again: Return of ‘The Great Stone Face'”DangerousMinds.
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  43. Jump up to:a b c d Knopf, Robert The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton By p.27
  44. Jump up^ Mast, Gerald (1979) The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Moviesp.135
  45. Jump up to:a b Balducci, Anthony (2011) The Funny Parts: A History of Film Comedy Routines and Gags p.231
  46. Jump up^ “Laurel & Hardy”google.com.
  47. Jump up to:a b Keaton, Eleanor, and Vance, Jeffrey. Buster Keaton Remembered, H.N. Abrams, 2001, pp. 95
  48. Jump up^ “Interview with Buster Keaton”Studs Terkel Radio Archive. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
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  50. Jump up^ Perez Gilberto ‘The Material Ghost—On Keaton and Chaplin’ 1998
  51. Jump up^ Lane, Anthony, Nobody’s Perfect, Knopf Publishing, 2002, pgs. 560–561
  52. Jump up^ Vance, Jeffrey. “Introduction.” Keaton, Eleanor and Jeffrey Vance. Buster Keaton Remembered. Harry N. Abrams, 2001, pg. 33. ISBN 0-8109-4227-5
  53. Jump up^ Trahair, Lisa. “The Narrative-Machine: Buster Keaton’s Cinematic Comedy, Deleuze’s Recursion Function and the Operational Aesthetic”. 2004. http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2004/33/keaton_deleuze/
  54. Jump up^ James Talmadge at the United States Social Security Death Index via FamilySearch.org. Retrieved on December 7, 2015.
  55. Jump up^ Robert Talmadge at the United States Social Security Death Index via FamilySearch.org. Retrieved on December 7, 2015.
  56. Jump up^ Cox, Melissa Talmadge, in Bible, Karie (May 6, 2004). “Interviews: Melissa Talmadge Cox (Buster Keaton’s Granddaughter)”Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015My Dad was christened Joseph Talmadge Keaton.
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  58. Jump up^ The City of Beverly Hills: Historic Resources Inventory (1985–1986)
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  66. Jump up^ “Vladamir Nabokov”jacquestati.com.
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  68. Jump up^ “Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (American Masters)”. Emmys.com. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  69. Jump up^ Associated Press, Polly Anderson, January 20, 2003. “Famed Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld Dies”.
  70. Jump up^ Leopold, David. Hirschfeld’s Hollywood, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, p. 20.
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  72. Jump up^ “Buster Keaton Papers”Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  73. Jump up^ Kehr, Dave (August 24, 2001). “At the Movies > Keaton Close-Up”The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  74. Jump up^ Loos, Ted (April 8, 2001). “A Hat Comes With It”The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  75. Jump up^ Lax, Eric (August 2, 2001). “The Genius and Pain of a Stone-Faced Comic”Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  76. Jump up^ Hames, James (May 25, 2001). “Review: ‘Buster Keaton Remembered'”Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  77. Jump up^ Rafferty, Terrence (January 2013). “DVD Classics: Laugh Out Loud”DGA Quarterly. Winter. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  78. Jump up to:a b How To Make A Porkpie Hat. Buster Keaton, interviewed in 1964 at the Movieland Wax Museum by Henry Gris”. Busterkeaton.com. Retrieved February 17, 2010.

Further reading

  • Agee, James, “Comedy’s Greatest Era” from Life (September 5, 1949), reprinted in Agee on Film (1958) McDowell, Obolensky, (2000) Modern Library
  • Keaton, Buster (with Charles Samuels), My Wonderful World of Slapstick (1960) Doubleday, (1982) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-306-80178-7
  • Blesh, RudiKeaton (1966) The Macmillan Company ISBN 0-02-511570-7
  • Lahue, Kalton C., World of Laughter: The Motion Picture Comedy Short, 1910–1930 (1966) University of Oklahoma Press
  • Lebel, Jean-Patrick (fr)Buster Keaton (1967) A.S. Barnes
  • Brownlow, Kevin, “Buster Keaton” from The Parade’s Gone By (1968) Alfred A. Knopf, (1976) University of California Press
  • McCaffrey, Donald W., 4 Great Comedians: Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton, Langdon (1968) A.S. Barnes
  • Robinson, DavidBuster Keaton (1969) Indiana University Press, in association with British Film Institute
  • Robinson, David, The Great Funnies: A History of Film Comedy (1969) E.P. Dutton
  • Durgnat, Raymond, “Self-Help with a Smile” from The Crazy Mirror: Hollywood Comedy and the American Image (1970) Dell
  • Maltin, LeonardSelected Short Subjects (first published as The Great Movie Shorts, 1972) Crown Books, (revised 1983) Da Capo Press
  • Gilliatt, Penelope, “Buster Keaton” from Unholy Fools: Wits, Comics, Disturbers of the Peace (1973) Viking
  • Mast, GeraldThe Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies (1973, 2nd ed. 1979) University of Chicago Press
  • Kerr, WalterThe Silent Clowns (1975) Alfred A. Knopf, (1990) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-394-46907-0
  • Anobile, Richard J. (ed.), The Best of Buster: Classic Comedy Scenes Direct from the Films of Buster Keaton (1976) Crown Books
  • Yallop, DavidThe Day the Laughter Stopped: The True Story of Fatty Arbuckle (1976) St. Martin’s Press
  • Byron, Stuart and Weis, Elizabeth (eds.), The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy (1977) Grossman/Viking
  • Moews, Daniel, Keaton: The Silent Features Close Up (1977) University of California Press
  • Everson, William K.American Silent Film (1978) Oxford University Press
  • Maltin, Leonard, The Great Movie Comedians (1978) Crown Books
  • Dardis, TomKeaton: The Man Who Wouldn’t Lie Down (1979) Scribners, (2004) Limelight Editions
  • Benayoun, RobertThe Look of Buster Keaton (1983) St. Martin’s Press
  • Staveacre, Tony, Slapstick!: The Illustrated Story (1987) Angus & Robertson Publishers
  • Edmonds, Andy, Frame-Up!: The Shocking Scandal That Destroyed Hollywood’s Biggest Comedy Star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (1992) Avon Books
  • Kline, Jim, The Complete Films of Buster Keaton (1993) Carol Pub. Group
  • Meade, MarionBuster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (1995) HarperCollins
  • Rapf, Joanna E. and Green, Gary L., Buster Keaton: A Bio-Bibliography (1995) Greenwood Press
  • Oldham, Gabriella, Keaton’s Silent Shorts: Beyond the Laughter (1996) Southern Illinois University Press
  • Horton, Andrew, Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. (1997) Cambridge University Press
  • Bengtson, John, Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton (1999) Santa Monica Press
  • Knopf, Robert, The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton (1999) Princeton University Press ISBN 0-691-00442-0
  • Keaton, Eleanor and Vance, Jeffrey Buster Keaton Remembered (2001) Harry N. Abrams ISBN 0-8109-4227-5
  • Mitchell, Glenn, A–Z of Silent Film Comedy (2003) B.T. Batsford Ltd.
  • McPherson, Edward, Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat (2005) Newmarket Press ISBN 1-55704-665-4
  • Neibaur, James L., Arbuckle and Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations (2006) McFarland & Co.
  • Neibaur, James L., The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM, Educational Pictures, and Columbia (2010) Scarecrow Press
  • Neibaur, James L. and Terri Niemi,Buster Keaton’s Silent Shorts (2013) Scarecrow Press
  • Oderman, Stuart, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle: A Biography of the Silent Film Comedian (2005) McFarland & Co.
  • Keaton, Buster, Buster Keaton: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers Series) (2007) University Press of Mississippi
  • Brighton, Catherine, Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton (2008) Roaring Brook Press (An illustrated children’s book about Keaton’s career)
  • Smith, Imogen Sara, Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy (2008) Gambit Publishing ISBN 978-0-9675917-4-2
  • Carroll, Noel, Comedy Incarnate: Buster Keaton, Physical Humor, and Bodily Coping (2009) Wiley-Blackwell

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Buster Keaton 101

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