98 Facts About Buster Keaton


Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American actor, comedian, and filmmaker.


Buster Keaton is best known for his silent film work, in which his trademark was physical comedy accompanied by a stoic, deadpan expression that earned him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".


Buster Keaton then moved to feature-length films; several of them, such as Sherlock Jr.


Buster Keaton's wife divorced him, and he descended into alcoholism.


Buster Keaton recovered in the 1940s, remarried, and revived his career as an honored comic performer for the rest of his life, earning an Academy Honorary Award in 1959.


Late in his career, Buster Keaton made cameos in Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, Chaplin's Limelight, Samuel Beckett's Film and the Twilight Zone episode "Once Upon a Time".


Buster Keaton is the first action hero; to be precise, he is a small, pale-faced American who is startled, tripped, drenched and inspired into becoming a hero.


Buster Keaton was born into a vaudeville family in Piqua, Kansas, the small town where his mother, Myra Buster Keaton, was when she went into labor.


Buster Keaton was named Joseph to continue a tradition on his father's side and Frank for his maternal grandfather, who disapproved of his parents' union.


Buster Keaton's father was Joseph Hallie "Joe" Keaton who had a traveling show called the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company, which performed on stage and sold patent medicine on the side.


Buster Keaton retold the anecdote over the years, including in a 1964 interview with the CBC's Telescope.


In Buster Keaton's retelling, he was six months old when the incident occurred, and Harry Houdini gave him the nickname.


Buster Keaton first appeared on stage in 1899 in Wilmington, Delaware.


Myra played the saxophone to one side, while Joe and Buster Keaton performed center stage.


The young Buster Keaton goaded his father by disobeying him, and the elder Buster Keaton responded by throwing him against the scenery, into the orchestra pit, or even into the audience.


The act evolved as Buster Keaton learned to take trick falls safely; he was rarely injured or bruised on stage.


However, Buster Keaton was always able to show the authorities that he had no bruises or broken bones.


Buster Keaton was eventually billed as "The Little Boy Who Can't Be Damaged", and the overall act as "The Roughest Act That Was Ever in the History of the Stage".


Decades later, Buster Keaton said that he was never hurt by his father and that the falls and physical comedy were a matter of proper technical execution.


Buster Keaton said he had so much fun that he sometimes began laughing as his father threw him across the stage.


Buster Keaton stated that he learned to read and write late, and was taught by his mother.


Joe Buster Keaton disapproved of films, and Buster Keaton had reservations about the medium.


Buster Keaton was such a natural in his first film, The Butcher Boy, he was hired on the spot.


Buster Keaton took the camera back to his hotel room where he dismantled and reassembled it by morning.


Buster Keaton later said that he was Arbuckle's second director and his entire gag department.


Buster Keaton appeared in a total of 14 Arbuckle shorts, running into 1920.


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


Fairbanks recommended Buster Keaton to take the role for the remake five years later, since the film was to have a comic slant.


Buster Keaton made a series of two-reel comedies, including One Week, The Playhouse, Cops, and The Electric House.


Buster Keaton's writers included Clyde Bruckman, Joseph Mitchell, and Jean Havez, but the most ingenious gags were generally conceived by Buster Keaton himself.


Buster Keaton's character emerged unscathed, due to a single open window.


Buster Keaton's distributor, United Artists, insisted on a production manager who monitored expenses and interfered with certain story elements.


Buster Keaton had little to say about the details of the MGM contract; he would no longer have any financial responsibility for his films, and even his salary had been pre-negotiated, without his own input.


But, given Schenck's desire to keep things "in the family" and Buster Keaton's having to admit that his independent pictures hadn't done well, Buster Keaton agreed to sign with MGM.


The first of MGM's Buster Keaton films was The Cameraman, and Buster Keaton sensed trouble immediately when he saw the script.


Buster Keaton kept trying to persuade his bosses to let him do things his way.


Production head Irving Thalberg would not permit Buster Keaton to create a script from scratch because the studio had already purchased a stage property, Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath, at the suggestion of Lawrence Weingarten, who was Thalberg's brother-in-law and Buster Keaton's producer.


Buster Keaton was handed a script titled Sidewalks of New York, in which he played a millionaire becoming involved with a slum-neighborhood girl and a gang of rowdy kids.


Buster Keaton thought the premise was totally unsuitable, and was uncomfortable with his directors Jules White and Zion Myers, who emphasized blunt slapstick.


The latter was Buster Keaton's last starring feature in his home country.


In 1934, Buster Keaton accepted an offer to make an independent film in Paris, Le Roi des Champs-Elysees.


Buster Keaton had a free hand in staging the films, within the studio's budgetary limits and using its staff writers.


The Educational two-reelers have far more pantomime than his earlier talkies, and Buster Keaton is in good form throughout.


Buster Keaton directed three one-reel novelty shorts for the studio, but these did not result in further directorial assignments.


Buster Keaton accepted various character roles in both "A" and "B" features.


Buster Keaton made his last starring feature, El Moderno Barba Azul, 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.


Buster Keaton had cameos in such films as In the Good Old Summertime, Sunset Boulevard, and Around the World in 80 Days.


In In the Good Old Summertime, Buster Keaton personally directed the stars Judy Garland and Van Johnson in their first scene together, where they bump into each other on the street.


Buster 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.


Buster Keaton appeared in a comedy routine about two inept stage musicians in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, recalling the vaudeville of The Playhouse.


In 1949, comedian Ed Wynn invited Buster Keaton to appear on his CBS Television comedy-variety show, The Ed Wynn Show, which was televised live on the West Coast.


Life with Buster Keaton was an attempt to recreate the first series on film, allowing the program to be broadcast nationwide.


The theatrical feature film The Misadventures of Buster Keaton was fashioned from the series.


Buster Keaton said that he canceled the filmed series himself, because he was unable to create enough fresh material to produce a new show each week.


Buster Keaton appeared in the early television series Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town.


Whenever a TV show wanted to simulate silent-movie comedy, Buster Keaton answered the call and guested in such successful series as The Ken Murray Show, You Asked for It, and The Garry Moore Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show.


Well into his fifties, Buster Keaton successfully recreated his old routines, including one stunt 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.


Buster Keaton had prints of the features Three Ages, Sherlock Jr.


From 1950 through 1964, Buster Keaton made around 70 guest appearances on television variety shows, including those of Ed Sullivan and Garry Moore.


Buster Keaton found steady work as an actor in TV commercials for Colgate, Alka-Seltzer, US Steel, 7-Up, RCA Victor, Phillips 66, Milky Way, Ford Motors, Minute Rub, and Budweiser, among others.


In December 1958, Buster Keaton was a guest star in the episode "A Very Merry Christmas" of The Donna Reed Show on ABC.


Buster Keaton returned to the program in 1965 in the episode "Now You See It, Now You Don't".


In 1961, Buster Keaton appeared in promotional films for Maryvale, a housing development in the western part of Phoenix.


Buster Keaton had a cameo as Jimmy, appearing near the end of the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.


Buster Keaton starred in five films for American International Pictures: Pajama Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, and Sergeant Deadhead, and War Italian Style.


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


Buster Keaton traveled from one end of Canada to the other on a motorized handcar, wearing his traditional pork pie hat and performing gags similar to those in films that he made 50 years before.


Buster Keaton played the central role in Samuel Beckett's Film, directed by Alan Schneider.


In 1965 he appeared on the CBS television special A Salute to Stan Laurel, a tribute to the comedian and friend of Buster Keaton who had died earlier that year.


Buster Keaton started experimenting with parody during his vaudeville years, where most frequently his performances involved impressions and burlesques of other performers' acts.


When Buster Keaton transposed his experience in vaudeville to film, in many works he parodied melodramas.


Buster Keaton parodied the tired formula of the melodramatic transformation from bad guy to good guy, which Hart's characters went through, known as "the good badman".


The traditional Buster Keaton stance requires that he remain upstanding, full of backbone, looking ahead.


Rerun it on video, and you can see Buster Keaton riding the collapse like a surfer, hanging onto the steering wheel, coming beautifully to rest as the wave of wreckage breaks.


Buster Keaton designed and modified his own pork pie hats during his career.


Buster Keaton said he was lucky if he used only six hats in making a film.


Buster Keaton estimated that he and his wife Eleanor made thousands of hats during his career.


Buster 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.


On May 31,1921, Keaton married Natalie Talmadge, his leading lady in Our Hospitality, and the sister of actresses Norma Talmadge and Constance Talmadge, at Norma's home in Bayside, Queens.


Buster Keaton had designed and built a modest but comfortable, cottage-like home as a surprise wedding gift for his bride.


Buster Keaton was briefly institutionalized, according to the Turner Classic Movies documentary So Funny It Hurt.


Buster Keaton escaped a straitjacket with tricks learned from Harry Houdini.


Buster Keaton filed for divorce in 1935 after finding him with Leah Clampitt Sewell, the wife of millionaire Barton Sewell, in a hotel in Santa Barbara.


On May 29,1940, Buster Keaton married Eleanor Norris, who was 23 years his junior.


Buster Keaton has been credited with salvaging his life and career.


Buster Keaton came to know his routines so well that she often participated in them in television revivals.


Buster Keaton died of lung cancer on February 1,1966, aged 70, in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.


Buster Keaton thought that he was recovering from a severe case of bronchitis.


Buster Keaton was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California.


Buster Keaton was presented with a 1959 Academy Honorary Award at the 32nd Academy Awards, held in April 1960.


Buster Keaton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: 6619 Hollywood Boulevard ; and 6225 Hollywood Boulevard.


The International Buster Keaton Society was founded on October 4,1992: Keaton's birthday.


Hirschfeld said that modern film stars were more difficult to depict, that silent film comedians such as Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton "looked like their caricatures".


In 1925, Dali produced a collage titled The Marriage of Buster Keaton featuring an image of the comedian in a seated pose, staring straight ahead with his trademark boater hat resting in his lap.


Buster Keaton re-enacted a famous Keaton stunt for the finale of Jackass Number Two.


Comedian Richard Lewis stated that Buster Keaton was his prime inspiration, and spoke of having a close friendship with Buster Keaton's widow Eleanor.


On June 16,2018, the International Buster Keaton Society laid a four-foot plaque in honor of both Keaton and Charles Chaplin on the corner of the shared block where each had made many of their silent comedies in Hollywood.


In 2022, two works on Buster Keaton appeared within a month of each other.