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Buster Keaton - Wikipedia Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was an American actor, comedian, film director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer. He ...
Buster Keaton - Wikipedia Joseph Frank Buster Keaton October 4 1895 – February 1 19661 was an American actor comedian film director producer screenwriter and stunt performer Steamboat Bill Jr Ultimate 2 Disc Edition 2 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 34 Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keatons 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 MetroGoldwynMayer 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 in 1959 Many of Keatons films from the 1920s such as Sherlock Jr 1924 The General 1926 and The Cameraman 1928 remain highly regarded5 with the second of these three widely viewed as his masterpiece 678 Among its strongest admirers was Orson Welles who stated that The General was cinemas highest achievement in comedy and perhaps the greatest film ever made 9 Keaton was recognized as the seventhgreatest film director by Entertainment Weekly10 and in 1999 the American Film Institute ranked him the 21st greatest male star of classic Hollywood cinema 11 Contents 1 Career 1 1 Early life in vaudeville 1 2 Silent film era 1 3 Use of parody 1 4 Sound era and television 1 4 1 Educational Pictures 1 4 2 Columbia Pictures 1 4 3 1940s and feature films 1 4 4 1950s–1960s and television 2 Personal life 3 Death 4 Influence and legacy 4 1 Pork pie hats 5 Filmography 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links Sixyearold Buster Keaton with his parents Myra and Joe Keaton during a vaudeville act Early life in vaudevilleedit Keaton was born into a vaudeville family in Piqua Kansas12 the small town where his mother Myra Keaton née Cutler was when she went into labor He was named Joseph to continue a tradition on his fathers side he was sixth in a line bearing the name Joseph Keaton1 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 According to a frequently repeated story which may be apocryphal13 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 it was Keatons father who began to use the nickname to refer to the youngster Keaton retold the anecdote over the years including a 1964 interview with the CBCs Telescope 14 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 A suitcase handle was sewn into Keatons 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 Cant Be Damaged with the overall act being advertised as The Roughest Act That Was Ever in the History of the Stage 15 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 Its a knack I started so young that landing right is second nature with me Several times Id have been killed if I hadnt been able to land like a cat Imitators of our act dont last long because they cant stand the treatment 15 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 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 fathers alcoholism threatened the reputation of the family act15 so Keaton and his mother Myra left for New York where Buster Keatons career swiftly moved from vaudeville to film 17 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 latearriving divisions During his time in uniform he suffered an ear infection that permanently impaired his hearing 1819 Silent film eraedit Poster for Convict 13 1920 A clip from the beginning of Cops 1922 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 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 costar and gag man making his first appearance in The Butcher Boy Keaton later claimed that he was soon Arbuckles 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 Keatons 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 Arbuckles character during accusations that he was responsible for the death of actress Virginia Rappe In 1920 The Saphead was released in which Keaton had his first starring role in a fulllength 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 After Keatons successful work with Arbuckle Schenck gave him his own production unit Buster Keaton Comedies He made a series of tworeel comedies including One Week 1920 The Playhouse 1921 Cops 1922 and The Electric House 1922 Keaton then moved to fulllength features Keaton center with writers from left Joe Mitchell Clyde Bruckman Jean Havez and Eddie Cline 1923 Keatons 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 others gagmen But we had no luck with Keaton because he thought up his best gags himself and we couldnt steal him20 The more adventurous ideas called for dangerous stunts performed by Keaton at great physical risk During the railroad watertank 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 twostory building toppled forward on top of Keaton Keatons character emerged unscathed thanks 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 Keatons body The sequence furnished one of the most memorable images of his career 21 Film critic David Thomson later described Keatons 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 faceas beautiful but as inhuman as a butterflyand you see that utter failure to identify sentiment 23 Gilberto Perez commented on Keatons 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 24 Critic Anthony Lane also noted Keatons 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 angle that you remember the figure perfectly straight but tilted forward like the Spirit of Ecstasy on the hood of a RollsRoyce in The Three Ages he drives a lowgrade 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 25 Film historian Jeffrey Vance writes “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 locationsall this masked behind his unflinching stoic veneer ”26 Keaton has inspired full academic study 27 Roscoe Arbuckle Keaton and Al St John in 1918 Aside from Steamboat Bill Jr 1928 Keatons most enduring featurelength films include Our Hospitality 1923 The Navigator 1924 Sherlock Jr 1924 Seven Chances 1925 The Cameraman 1928 and The General 1926 The General set during the American Civil War combined physical comedy with Keatons love of trains including an epic locomotive chase Employing picturesque locations the films storyline reenacted an actual wartime incident Though it would come to be regarded as Keatons greatest achievement the film received mixed reviews at the time It was too dramatic for some filmgoers expecting a lightweight comedy and reviewers questioned Keatons judgment in making a comedic film about the Civil War even while noting it had a few laughs 28 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 Hollywoods biggest studio MetroGoldwynMayer MGM Keatons 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 29 Use of parodyedit Keaton right and Gilbert Roland in San Sebastián Spain in August 1930 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 30 When Keaton transposed his experience in vaudeville to film in many works he parodied melodramas 30 Other favorite targets were cinematic plots structures and devices 31 One of his most biting parodies is The Frozen North 1922 a satirical take on William S Harts Western melodramas like Hells 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 Harts character known as the good badman 32 He wears a small version of Harts campaign hat from the Spanish–American War and a sixshooter 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 Harts 33 Audiences of the 1920s recognized the parody and thought the film hysterically funny However Hart himself was not amused by Keatons antics particularly the crying scene and did not speak to Buster for two years after he had seen the film 34 The films opening intertitles give it its mockserious tone and are taken from The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W Service 34 In The Playhouse 1921 he parodied his contemporary Thomas H Ince Harts producer who indulged in overcrediting himself in his film productions The short also featured the impression of a performing monkey which was likely derived from a cobillers act called Peter the Great 30Three Ages 1923 his first featurelength film is a parody of D W Griffiths Intolerance 1916 from which it replicates the three intercut shorts structure 30Three Ages also featured parodies of Bible stories like those of Samson and Daniel 32 Keaton directed the film along with Edward F Cline Sound era and televisionedit With Charlotte Greenwood in one of his first talkies 1931s Parlor Bedroom and Bath Keaton signed with MetroGoldwynMayer 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 dialogueladen scripts However MGM did allow Keaton some creative participation on his last originally developedwritten silent film The Cameraman 1928 which was his first project under contract with them but hired Edward Sedgwick as the official director 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 dont 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 Keatons last starring feature in his home country The films proved popular Thirty years later both Keaton and Durante had cameo roles in Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World albeit not in the same scenes Keaton with Thelma Todd and Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily 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 foreignlanguage 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 1933s 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 ChampsÉlysées During this period he made another film in England The Invader released in the United States as An Old Spanish Custom in 1936 Educational Picturesedit Upon Keatons return to Hollywood he made a screen comeback in a series of 16 tworeel 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 35 The high point in the Educational series is Grand Slam Opera featuring Buster in his own screenplay as an amateurhour 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 36 He also helped and advised Lucille Ball in her comedic work in films and television 37 Columbia Picturesedit In 1939 Columbia Pictures hired Keaton to star in ten tworeel comedies running for two years The director was usually Jules White whose emphasis on slapstick and farce made most of these films resemble Whites Three Stooges comedies Keatons personal favorite was the series debut entry Pest from the West a shorter tighter remake of Keatons littleviewed 1935 feature The Invader it was directed not by White but by Del Lord a veteran director for Mack Sennett Moviegoers and exhibitors welcomed Keatons Columbia comedies proving that the comedian had not lost his appeal However taken as a whole Keatons Columbia shorts rank as the worst comedies he made an assessment he concurred with in his autobiography 38 The final entry was Shes Oil Mine and Keaton swore he would never again make another crummy tworeeler 38 1940s and feature filmsedit Keatons 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 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 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 Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World 1963 Jimmy assists Spencer Tracys character Captain C G Culpepper by readying Culpeppers ultimatelyunused 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 epics 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 Keaton also appeared in a comedy routine about two inept stage musicians in Charlie Chaplins 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 comedyvariety 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 1950s–1960s and televisionedit Keaton feigning his foot stuck in the railroad tracks of a train ride at Knotts Berry Farm in 1956 He had an essentially nonspeaking role in Sunset Boulevard 1950 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 Emersons 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 Wynns 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 Ive Got a Secret host Garry Moore recalled I asked Keaton how he did all those falls and he said Ill show you He opened his jacket and he was all bruised So thats how he did itit hurtbut you had to care enough not to care Unlike his contemporary Harold Lloyd who kept his films from being televised Keatons 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 NBCs The Martha Raye Show Keaton as a time traveler in The Twilight Zone episode Once Upon a Time November 1961 Also in 1954 Keaton and his wife Eleanor met film programmer Raymond Rohauer with whom the couple would develop a business partnership to rerelease Keatons films Around the same time after buying the comedians house the actor James Mason found numerous cans of Keatons films Among the rediscovered films was Keatons longlost classic The Boat 39 The Coronet Theatre art house in Los Angeles with which Rohauer was involved was showing The General which Buster hadnt seen in years and he wanted me to see it Eleanor Keaton said in 1987 Raymond recognized Buster and their friendship started 40 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 didnt realize we were going to join forces But I realized he had this Idontcare attitude about his stuff He said Its valueless I dont own the rights 40 Keaton had prints of the features Three Ages Sherlock Jr Steamboat Bill Jr College missing one reel and the shorts The Boat and My Wifes 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 Keatons work all his 1920–1926 features and his first eight tworeel shorts 40 Keaton with Joe E Brown in the Journey to Ninevah episode of Route 66 from 1962 On April 3 1957 Keaton was surprised by Ralph Edwards for the weekly NBC program This Is Your Life The halfhour program which also promoted the release of the biographical film The Buster Keaton Story with Donald OConnor summarized Keatons life and career up to that point 41 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 Dont The 1958 episode has been included in the DVD release of Donna Reeds television programs 42 One of the shows castmembers Paul Peterson recalled that Keaton put together an incredible physical skit His skills were amazing I never saw anything like it before or since 43 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 44 In 1960 Keaton returned to MGM for the final time playing a lion tamer in a 1960 adaptation of Mark Twains 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 Twains original book 45 In 1961 he starred in The Twilight Zone episode Once Upon a Time which included both silent and sound sequences Keaton played timetraveler Mulligan who traveled 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 1962the day before Kovacs died in a car crash Medicine Man was completed but not aired 46 It can however be viewed under its alternate title A Pony For Chris on an Ernie Kovacs DVD set 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 47 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 The program was produced as a benefit for the Motion Picture Relief Fund and featured a range 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 48 Keaton starred in four films for American International Pictures 1964s Pajama Party and 1965s Beach Blanket Bingo How 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 Hed 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 inPaul Lynde Don Rickles Buddy Hackettthey hit it off with him great 49 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 Keatons last silent screen performance The Railrodder was made in tandem with a behindthescenes documentary about Keatons life and times called Buster Keaton Rides Again also made for the National Film Board which is twice the length of the short film 50 He played the central role in Samuel Becketts 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 Becketts writing baffling citation needed Also in 1965 he traveled to Italy to play a role in Due Marines e un Generale costarring alongside the famous Italian comedian duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia In 1987 Italian singersongwriters Claudio Lolli and Francesco Guccini wrote a song Keaton about his work on that film citation needed Keatons 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 51 Personal lifeedit Keaton with family in 1922 On May 31 1921 Keaton married Natalie Talmadge sisterinlaw of his boss Joseph Schenck and sister of actresses Norma Talmadge and Constance Talmadge She costarred with Keaton in Our Hospitality The couple had two sons Joseph aka Buster Keaton Jr June 2 1922 – February 14 200752 and Robert Talmadge Keaton February 3 1924 – July 19 200953 later both surnamed Talmadge 54 After the birth of Robert the relationship began to suffer 13 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 Key55 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 citation needed In 1926 Keaton spent 300000 to build a 10000squarefoot 930 m2 home in Beverly Hills designed by architect Gene Verge Sr which was later owned by James Mason and Cary Grant 56 Keatons Italian Villa can be seen in Keatons film Parlor Bedroom and Bath Keaton later said I took a lot of pratfalls to build that dump The house suffered approximately 10000 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 57 Keaton was at one point briefly institutionalized 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 Scriven herself would later claim that she didnt know Keatons real first name until after the marriage 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 58 When they divorced in 1936 it was again at great financial cost to Keaton 59 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 Keatons life by stopping his heavy drinking and helping to salvage his career 60 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 Keatons grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills Keaton died of lung cancer on February 1 1966 aged 70 in Woodland Hills California 61 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 62 Keaton was interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills California Influence and legacyedit Keatons star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 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 Keatons playbook 63 A 1957 film biography The Buster Keaton Story starring Donald OConnor as Keaton was released 36 The screenplay by Sidney Sheldon who also directed the film was loosely based on Keatons life but contained many factual errors and merged his three wives into one character 64 A 1987 documentary Buster Keaton A Hard Act to Follow directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill won two Emmy Awards 65 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 ” Keaton in costume circa 1939 with his signature pork pie hat In 1994 caricaturist Al Hirschfeld penned a series of silent film stars for the United States Post Office including Rudolph Valentino and Keaton 66 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 67 Keatons 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 selfdeprecating physical comedy Comedian Richard Lewis stated that Keaton was his prime inspiration and spoke of having a close friendship with Keatons widow Eleanor Steamboat Bill Jr Ultimate 2 Disc Edition Lewis was particularly moved by the fact that Eleanor said his eyes looked like Keatons 68 At the time of Eleanor Keatons 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 6970 The book Buster Keaton Remembered by Eleanor Keaton and Vance published after her death was favorably reviewed 717273 In 2012 Kino Lorber released The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection a 14disc Bluray box set of Keatons work including 11 of his feature films 74 Pork pie hatsedit 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 75 The hats were often destroyed during Keatons 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 75 Filmographyedit Main article Buster Keaton filmography Referencesedit a b c Meade Marion 1997 Buster Keaton Cut to the Chase Da Capo p 16 ISBN 0306808021 Obituary Variety February 2 1966 page 63 Barber Nicholas 8 January 2014 Deadpan but alive to the future Buster Keaton the revolutionary The Independent Retrieved 3 November 2015 a b Ebert Roger November 10 2002 The Films of Buster Keaton Archived from the original on November 3 2015 Retrieved January 28 2016 Buster Keatons Acclaimed Films They Shoot Pictures Dont They Retrieved September 29 2016 Sight & Sound Critics Poll 2002 Top Films of All Time Sight & Sound via Mubi com Archived from the original on January 29 2016 Retrieved January 29 2016 Votes for The General 1924 British Film Institute Retrieved September 29 2016 Andrew Geoff January 23 2014 The General the greatest comedy of all time Sight & Sound Archived from the original on September 6 2015 Retrieved January 28 2016 Orson Welles interview from the Kino Nov 10 2009 BluRay edition of The General 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 AFI Recognizes the 50 Greatest American Screen Legends Press release American Film Institute June 16 1999 Archived from the original on January 13 2013 Retrieved August 31 2013 Stokes Keith ed Buster Keaton Museum KansasTravel org Archived from the original on January 16 2016 Retrieved February 17 2010 a b McGee Scott Buster Keaton Sundays in October Turner Classic Movies Archived from the original on December 8 2015 Retrieved February 17 2010 Note Source misspells Keatons frequent appellation as Great Stoneface Telescope Deadpan an interview with Buster Keaton 1964 interview of Buster and Eleanor Keaton by Fletcher Markle for the CBC a b c Part I A Vaudeville Childhood International Buster Keaton Society Archived from the original on January 8 2015 Retrieved February 17 2010 Buster Keaton Archive sensesofcinema com February 1 1966 Retrieved February 17 2010 Part IIThe Flickers International Buster Keaton Society October 13 1924 Archived from the original on March 3 2015 Retrieved February 17 2010 Martha R Jett My Career at the Rear Buster Keaton in World War I worldwar1 com Master Sergeant Jim Ober Buster Keaton Comedian Soldier California State Military Museum Maltin Leonard The Great Movie Comedians Bell Publishing 1978 Reviews The GeneralSteamboat Bill Jr The DVD Journal Retrieved February 17 2010 Interview with Buster Keaton Studs Terkel Radio Archive Retrieved September 29 2016 Thomson David Have you Seen Alfred A Knopf Publishing 2008 p 767 Perez Gilberto The Material GhostOn Keaton and Chaplin 1998 Lane Anthony Nobodys Perfect Knopf Publishing 2002 pgs 560–561 Vance Jeffrey Introduction Keaton Eleanor and Jeffrey Vance Buster Keaton Remembered Harry N Abrams 2001 pg 33 ISBN 0810942275 Trahair Lisa The NarrativeMachine Buster Keaton’s Cinematic Comedy Deleuze’s Recursion Function and the Operational Aesthetic 2004 httpwww sensesofcinema com200433keatondeleuze 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 BusterKeaton com BusterKeaton com Retrieved February 17 2010 a b c d Knopf Robert The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton By p 27 Mast Gerald 1979 The Comic Mind Comedy and the Moviesp 135 a b Balducci Anthony 2011 The Funny Parts A History of Film Comedy Routines and Gags p 231 Laurel & Hardy google com a b Keaton Eleanor and Vance Jeffrey Buster Keaton Remembered H N Abrams 2001 pp 95 Gill David Brownlow Kevin 1987 Buster Keaton A Hard Act to Follow Thames Television pp Episode three a b Knopf Robert The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton By p 34 Kathleen Brady May 31 2014 Lucille The Life of Lucille Ball – Kathleen Brady kathleenbrady net a b Okuda Ted Watz Edward 1986 The Columbia Comedy Shorts McFarland & Company Inc Publishers p 139 ISBN 0899501818 The House Next Door 5 for the Day James Mason www slantmagazine com August 24 2009 Retrieved July 15 2014 a b c Lovece Frank June 1987 Wheres Buster Despite Renewed Interest Only a Handful of Buster Keatons Classic Comedies Are on Tape Video Archived from the original on August 31 2013 Retrieved August 31 2013 Series Details Cinema ucla edu Retrieved February 17 2010 The Donna Reed Show A Very Merry Christmas 1958 Us imdb com Retrieved February 17 2010 Peterson Paul The Fall of Buster Keaton 2010 Scarecrow Press Meade Marion 1997 Buster Keaton Cut to the Chase Da Capo p 284 ISBN 0306808021 Crowther Bosley August 4 1960 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1960 The New York Times Spiro J D February 8 1962 Ernie Kovacs Last Interview The Milwaukee Journal Retrieved October 16 2010 Buster Keaton For Simon Pure Beer – Brookston Beer Bulletin Brookston Beer Bulletin 20151004 Retrieved 20161011 This is mentioned on p 202 in The Lucy Book by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman Renaissance Books Lovece Frank February 1987 Beach Blanket Buster Video Archived from the original on August 31 2013 Retrieved August 31 2013 Buster Keaton Rides Again Return of ‘The Great Stone Face’ DangerousMinds Buster Keaton A Hard Act to Follow Chap 3 Thames Television 1987 James Talmadge at the United States Social Security Death Index via FamilySearch org Retrieved on December 7 2015 Robert Talmadge at the United States Social Security Death Index via FamilySearch org Retrieved on December 7 2015 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 2015 My Dad was christened Joseph Talmadge Keaton McPherson Edward Buster Keaton Tempest in a Flat Hat 2005 The City of Beverly Hills Historic Resources Inventory 1985–1986 Mrs Keaton Children Rescued from Blaze The Pittsburgh Press January 11 1930 Retrieved 4 August 2012 Buster Keatons Second Wife Sues Him for Divorce Reading Eagle July 18 1935 Retrieved 7 May 2012 Dardis Tom Buster Keaton The Man Who Wouldnt Lie Down 1996 Vance Jeffrey Introduction Keaton Eleanor and Jeffrey Vance Buster Keaton Remembered Harry N Abrams 2001 pg 29 ISBN 0810942275 Buster Keaton 70 Dies on Coast PokerFaced Comedian of Films The New York Times February 2 1966 Retrieved July 4 2008 Buster Keaton the pokerfaced comic whose studies in exquisite frustration amused two generations of film audiences died of lung cancer today at his home in suburban Woodland Hills Turner Classic Movies Vladamir Nabokov jacquestati com Erickson Hal The Buster Keaton Story All Movie Guide Rovi via The New York Times Retrieved February 17 2010 Buster Keaton A Hard Act to Follow American Masters Emmys com Retrieved June 22 2014 Associated Press Polly Anderson January 20 2003 Famed Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld Dies Leopold David Hirschfelds Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences p 20 TCM voiceover October 2011 Buster Keaton Month Buster Keaton Papers Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Retrieved January 10 2015 Kehr Dave August 24 2001 At the Movies Keaton CloseUp The New York Times Retrieved January 10 2015 Loos Ted April 8 2001 A Hat Comes With It The New York Times Retrieved January 10 2015 Lax Eric August 2 2001 The Genius and Pain of a StoneFaced Comic Los Angeles Times Retrieved January 10 2015 Hames James May 25 2001 Review ‘Buster Keaton Remembered’ Variety Retrieved January 10 2015 Rafferty Terrence January 2013 DVD Classics Laugh Out Loud DGA Quarterly Winter Retrieved 12 January 2013 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 readingedit Agee James Comedys 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 0306801787 Blesh Rudi Keaton 1966 The Macmillan Company ISBN 0025115707 Lahue Kalton C World of Laughter The Motion Picture Comedy Short 1910–1930 1966 University of Oklahoma Press Lebel JeanPatrick 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 David Buster 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 SelfHelp with a Smile from The Crazy Mirror Hollywood Comedy and the American Image 1970 Dell Maltin Leonard Selected 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 Gerald The Comic Mind Comedy and the Movies 1973 2nd ed 1979 University of Chicago Press Kerr Walter The Silent Clowns 1975 Alfred A Knopf 1990 Da Capo Press ISBN 0394469070 Anobile Richard J ed The Best of Buster Classic Comedy Scenes Direct from the Films of Buster Keaton 1976 Crown Books Yallop David The Day the Laughter Stopped The True Story of Fatty Arbuckle 1976 St Martins Press Byron Stuart and Weis Elizabeth eds The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy 1977 GrossmanViking 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 Tom Keaton The Man Who Wouldnt Lie Down 1979 Scribners 2004 Limelight Editions Benayoun Robert The Look of Buster Keaton 1983 St Martins Press Staveacre Tony Slapstick The Illustrated Story 1987 Angus & Robertson Publishers Edmonds Andy FrameUp The Shocking Scandal That Destroyed Hollywoods Biggest Comedy Star Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle 1992 Avon Books Kline Jim The Complete Films of Buster Keaton 1993 Carol Pub Group Meade Marion Buster Keaton Cut to the Chase 1995 HarperCollins Rapf Joanna E and Green Gary L Buster Keaton A BioBibliography 1995 Greenwood Press Oldham Gabriella Keatons Silent Shorts Beyond the Laughter 1996 Southern Illinois University Press Horton Andrew Buster Keatons 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 0691004420 Keaton Eleanor and Vance Jeffrey Buster Keaton Remembered 2001 Harry N Abrams ISBN 0810942275 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 1557046654 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 NiemiBuster Keatons 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 childrens book about Keatons career Smith Imogen Sara Buster Keaton The Persistence of Comedy 2008 Gambit Publishing ISBN 9780967591742 Carroll Noel Comedy Incarnate Buster Keaton Physical Humor and Bodily Coping 2009 WileyBlackwell External linksedit Buster Keaton on IMDb Buster Keaton at the TCM Movie Database Buster Keaton at Find a Grave Buster Keaton at Rotten Tomatoes The International Buster Keaton Society Buster Keaton Museum Buster Keaton and the Muskegon Connection Buster Keaton in Five Easy Clips Buster Keaton Photo Galleries includes rare images of BK smiling and laughing Buster Keaton as a child performer Univ of WashingtonSayre collection Buster Keatons Silent Shorts 1920–1923 by James L Neibaur and Terri Niemi