Buster Keaton - born Joseph Frank Keaton. 1895 - 1966
Buster Keaton, born Joseph Frank Keaton in Paqua, Kansas, October 4, 1895, between shows that his parents were performing in. He was onstage at the age of 9 months, and at the age of five was a regular part of his parent's vaudeville act.
Buster Keaton claimed that his nickname "Buster" came from Harry Houdini, who, after seeing the (then) child actor take a fall down a flight of steps without any damage, exclaimed "That's sure a buster!"
By the age of 21, Buster Keaton was a successful headliner in vaudeville, but had taken up an interest in working in the newly born medium of moving pictures.
"According to Eleanor Keaton, Keaton's work methods rarely included writing anything down. Instead he would sit and work out entire routines in his head, or silently pantomime his way through a sketch over and over. Most comedians keep records of gags and jokes, even whole filing rooms that look like the back room at a bank where clerks toil, but Keaton only kept bags of props and his own mental filing system.
He was known to break down segments of a routine by timing it against pop music which he would listen to over a radio while working on a routine, editing the timing to flow like a piece of music.
Keaton liked to experiment and tinker with routines, and this attitude was what he utilized in making films, something he learned from his personal friend film comedian "Fatty" Arbuckle, who Keaton treated as a mentor on how to make a movie.
Keaton took physical risks in making his films that went well beyond just dedication. During the making of Sherlock Jr., he actually broke his neck, and without knowing it continued to work in pain, the break not being detected for years. He nearly drowned in Our Hospitality. He broke other bones in various films, but had a physical resilience that rarely slowed him down on set, where he would usually finish a scene in one take, would continue to improvise a scene if it had gone wrong, thus sometimes using material that was made up on camera."
From Buster Keaton: Stoic Sphinx with a Porkpie Hat
Kinetic Man: Buster Keaton
From the Hugh Kenner book The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy by Hugh Kenner – Amazon (Published 1968) page 68:
"Buster Keaton's subject was kinetic man, a being he approached with the almost metaphysical awe we reserve for a Doppelganger. This being was, eerily, himself, played by himself, then later in a projection room, watched by himself: an experience never possible to any generation of actors in the previous history of the world. He could watch himself, moreover, doing again things that in much earlier phases of his life he had actually done: being blown about by a cyclone, for instance, as he was in Kansas at the age of two and one-half. And his father in more than one film was his father, Joe Keaton, and the bride he plucked off the ledge near the waterfall was indeed his bride of two years, Natalie Talmadge Keaton...'
The Cameraman (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] - Buster Keaton - Amazon
You will see Amazon links on this web site because I am an Amazon affiliate. I earn from qualifying purchases.
Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon - 512 Pages
"A dazzling portrait of an incredible woman. Elizabeth's life was more captivating than any film could ever be."— Demi Moore
"Brower’s book takes the reader into the private world of the most famous celebrity of the 20th century. Elizabeth’s heart, mind, and passion come vividly alive on each page. We see her as a woman who struggled and ultimately survived to rewrite the playbook on celebrity and power. I never wanted it to end!" — Brooke Shields
"Brower is quickly becoming a brand-name Washington writer because of her ability to deliver juicy tidbits and insider information while steering her books toward a mainstream audience without sacrificing historical credibility." — Christian Science Monitor on TEAM OF FIVE
Amazon Link to order Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon Hardcover
Audio Book version - Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon
[This is an affiliate Amazon link which may provide a commission earned for this site. If that happens, we'll probably buy an old movie on Blu Ray with the proceeds.]
Enter Santo - The Blue Ray Box Set
- Strangers on a Train - 1951
- Santo vs The Vampire Women 1962
- Salome, Where She Danced – 1945
- Picnic – 1955
- I Was A Male War Bride – 1949
- Here Come the Girls – 1953
- The Brass Bottle – 1964
- The Girl Can't Help It – 1957
- Uncharted – 2022
- Cyclotrode X – 1966
- L'emmerdeur (aka A Pain in the Ass) – 1973
- Robot Monster – 1953
Original Page June 29, 2014 | Updated April 2021