Buster Keaton

Actor, Director, Producer
A vaudeville star before the age of 10, Buster Keaton was preparing to make his Broadway debut in 1917 when a meeting with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle changed both the course of his life and the history of cinema forever ... Read more »
Born: 10/04/1895 in Piqua, Kansas, USA

Filmography

Actor (50)

When Comedy Was King 2014 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

That's Entertainment! III 1994 (Movie)

Song Performer (Actor)

The Three Stooges Follies 1973 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 1966 (Movie)

Erronius (Actor)

Beach Blanket Bingo 1965 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini 1965 (Movie)

Bwana (Actor)

War Italian Style 1965 (Movie)

Gen Von Kassler (Actor)

Buster Keaton Rides Again 1964 (Movie)

(Actor)

Film 1964 (Movie)

(Actor)

Sergeant Deadhead 1964 (Movie)

Pvt Blinken (Actor)

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

Jimmy--the Crook (Actor)

Pajama Party 1963 (Movie)

Chief Rotten Eagle (Actor)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1960 (Movie)

Lion Tamer (Actor)

Around the World in 80 Days 1956 (Movie)

Conductor (Actor)

Screen Director's Playhouse 1955 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

The Man Who Came to Dinner 1954 - 1955 (TV Show)

Actor

Life With Buster Keaton 1952 - 1953 (TV Show)

Actor

Limelight 1953 (Movie)

Piano Accompanist (Actor)

Sunset Boulevard 1950 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

In the Good Old Summertime 1949 (Movie)

Hickey (Actor)

Forever and a Day 1943 (Movie)

Plumber's Helper (Actor)

The Spook Speaks 1940 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Villain Still Pursued Her 1940 (Movie)

William Dalton (Actor)

Hollywood Cavalcade 1939 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

La Fiesta de Santa Barbara 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

What! No Beer? 1933 (Movie)

Elmer Butts (Actor)

Speak Easily 1932 (Movie)

Prof. Timolean Zanders Post (Actor)

The Passionate Plumber 1932 (Movie)

Elmer Tuttle (Actor)

Parlor, Bedroom and Bath 1931 (Movie)

Reginald Irving (Actor)

The Sidewalks of New York 1931 (Movie)

Homer Van Dine Harmon (Actor)

Doughboys 1930 (Movie)

Elmer Stuyvesant (Actor)

Free and Easy 1930 (Movie)

Elmer Butts (Actor)

Hollywood Revue of 1929 1929 (Movie)

(Actor)

Spite Marriage 1929 (Movie)

Elmer Edgemont (Actor)

The Cameraman 1928 (Movie)

Luke Shannon (Actor)

College 1927 (Movie)

Ronald (Actor)

Steamboat Bill, Jr 1927 (Movie)

(Actor)

Battling Butler 1926 (Movie)

Alfred Butler (Actor)

The General 1926 (Movie)

Johnnie Gray (Actor)

Go West 1925 (Movie)

Friendless (Actor)

Seven Chances 1925 (Movie)

Jimmie Shannon (Actor)

Sherlock, Jr. 1923 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Navigator 1923 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Balloonatic 1922 (Movie)

(Actor)

Cops 1921 (Movie)

(Actor)

Le Roi Des Champs-Elysees (Movie)

Buster Garnier/Jim Le Balafre (Actor)

New Moon (Movie)

Prisoner "LuLu" (Actor)

The Boat (Movie)

(Actor)

The Love Nest (Movie)

(Actor)

The Twilight Zone (TV Show)

Actor
Director (10)

Battling Butler 1926 (Movie)

(Director)

The General 1926 (Movie)

(Director)

Go West 1925 (Movie)

(Director)

Seven Chances 1925 (Movie)

(Director)

Sherlock, Jr. 1923 (Movie)

(Director)

The Navigator 1923 (Movie)

(Director)

The Balloonatic 1922 (Movie)

(Director)

Cops 1921 (Movie)

(Director)

The Boat (Movie)

(Director)

The Love Nest (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (9)

The Bachelor 1999 (Movie)

from film("Seven Chances") (Story By)

Go West 1925 (Movie)

(Screen Story)

The Balloonatic 1922 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Cops 1921 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Tales of Manhattan (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Boat (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Jones Family in Hollywood (Movie)

(Screen Story)

The Jones Family in Quick Millions (Movie)

(Screen Story)

The Love Nest (Movie)

(Screenwriter)
Producer (3)

Parlor, Bedroom and Bath 1931 (Movie)

(Producer)

Doughboys 1930 (Movie)

(Producer)

Steamboat Bill, Jr 1927 (Movie)

(Producer)
Other (1)

Merton of the Movies (Movie)

(Technical Advisor)

Biography

A vaudeville star before the age of 10, Buster Keaton was preparing to make his Broadway debut in 1917 when a meeting with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle changed both the course of his life and the history of cinema forever. Coming into prominence at the same time as Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, Keaton - whose deadpan expressions to the onscreen comic disasters that befell him earned him the sobriquet "The Great Stone Face" - became one of the most popular and successful comic actors of the silent era. In fact, his daring comic stunts, which he performed himself without camera trickery, quickly became the stuff of legend in films like "One Week" (1920), "The Three Ages" (1923), "Sherlock, Jr." (1924) and "The Navigator" (1924). Keaton directed and starred in his greatest achievement, "The General" (1927), which was panned by critics at the time and was a major box office flop, but later gained a reputation for being one of the best films made during the silent era. He made the transition to talkies with "The Hollywood Revue of 1929" (1929), but suffered from bouts of alcoholism and other personal problems that eventually relegated him to little more than a gagman. But Keaton made a resurgence decades later after numerous attempts at a comeback, starring opposite Chaplin in "Limelight" (1952) and becoming a frequent guest star on a several popular shows, which helped keep his name alive and assure his place in cinema history.

Relationships

Viola Dana

Companion
involved in 1919

Joseph Keaton

Father
born in 1867 in Terre Haute, Indiana died on January 13, 1946 in Los Angeles, California appeared in some of Keaton's films

Myra Keaton

Mother
born in March 1877 in Modale, Iowa died on July 21, 1955 in Los Angeles, California appeared in some of Keaton's films

Joseph Keaton

Son
born on June 2, 1922 mother, Natalie Talmadge legally changed surname to Talmadge in 1934

Robert Keaton

Son
born on February 3, 1924 surname legally changed to Talmadge in 1934

Harry Keaton

Brother
born on August 25, 1904 died in May 1988 in San Ysidro, California

Louise Keaton

Sister
born on October 30, 1906 died of lung cnacer on February 18, 1981 in Van Nuys, California

Alice Lake

Companion
involved in 1919

Eleanor Norris

Wife
met in 1938 married in 1940 survived him born on July 19, 1918 died on October 19, 1998 at age 80

Mae Scriven

Wife
reportedly married on January 1, 1932 in Mexico although no record could be found marriage not legal as Keaton's divorce was not final legally married in 1933 divorced in 1935 born in 1905 had previously been married and divorced alcoholic went on to marry and divorce at least two more times was also romantically involved with publicist Sam Fuller was committed for psychiatric evaluation on and off in the 1950s

Dorothy Sebastian

Companion
first met when she starred opposite him in "Spite Marriage" had on-again, off-agin relationship for close to 10 years (c. 1928-1938)

Marilyn Stuart

Companion
involved in 1935

Natalie Talmadge

Wife
married on May 31, 1921 divorced in 1932 born on April 28, 1897 died on June 19. 1969

Milestones

1987

Last film unearthed and restored by Rohaurer (with Kevin Brownlow), the 1921 short "Hard Luck", premiered at London's Palladium

1966

Last film appearances (excluding archival footage) in Richard Lester's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and Luigi Scattini's "War Italian Style" (released in the USA in 1967)

1965

Received standing ovation as special guest at the Venice Film Festival where "Film", a 22-minte short written for him by Samuel Beckett, premiered

1963

Acted in Stanley Kramer's "It a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

1959

Awarded a special Oscar for "his unique talents which brought immortal comedies to the screen"

1957

Paramount released "The Buster Keaton Story", starring Donald O'Connor

1956

Appeared in Michael Anderson's "Around the World in 80 Days"

1955

Met businessman Raymond Rohaurer who would pull together a collection of prints of Keaton's silent films

1955

Actor James Mason, then-owner of the villa Keaton had built for former wife Natalie Talmadge in 1925, discovered a cache of film cans in a locked vault in a gardner's shed which contained prints of all of Keaton's silent features and many of his short com

1952

Acted in Chaplin's "Limelight" (only time the two appeared together)

1950

Appeared as himself in Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard"

1949

James Agee's essay in LIFE sparked renewed interest in silent films, particualrly the work of Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Harry Langdon

1949

Made TV debut re-enacting a scene from "The Butcher Boy" on "The Ed Wynn Show" (CBS)

1947

First appearance at Cirque Medrano, Paris (as Malec)

1940

Toured USA in detective play, "The Gorilla"

1939

Signed contract with Columbia; made 10 shorts over the next two years

1938

Last directing assignments, three single-reelers for MGM ("Life in Sometown, USA", "Hollywood Handicap", "Streamlined Swing")

1937

Educational Films closed down

1937

Signed contract with MGM as gagman only

1936

Made "Grand Slam Opera", his favorite short for Educational

1934

Made French film, "Le roi des Champs-Elyses"; never released in USA

1934

Signed contract with Educational Films for two-reelers

1933

MGM contract terminated

1929

Last silent feature, "Spite Marriage"

1929

Made first talking film as actor "The Hollywood Revue of 1929"

1928

Last film released under the umbrella of "Buster Keaton Productions", "Steamboat Bill Jr"

1928

Signed contract with MGM

1928

First picture for MGM, "The Cameraman", well up to the standard of his best independent features

1926

His best-known film "The General" opened to unfavorable critical response

1924

Released "Sherlock Jr" and "The Navigator"; the former considered by many as one of (if not) his finest films

1923

Completed first feature comedy, "The Three Ages", a spoof of D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance" (1916)

1922

Comique Films name changed to Buster Keaton Productions (though Schenck still owned it)

1921

With Cline, co-wrote and co-directedthe two-reeler "The Playhouse", a special effects tour de force in which he appeared on screen simultaneously nine times, even performing a dance with himself

1920

Played a straight role in his first feature, "The Saphead"; made on loan to Metro Pictures

1920

First released short film as director, "One Week"; co-helmed with Eddie Cline

1920

Took over Joseph Schenck's Comique Films (formerly headed by Arbuckle)

1920

First short film as director, "The High Sign" (shelved and not released until 1921)

1917

Accepted a part in the Broadway show "The Passing Show of 1917" at $250 a week but broke contract after meeting Rosco 'Fatty' Arbuckle and appearing in his first film

1917

First short film as actor, "The Butcher Boy", written and directed by Arbuckle

1917

Father's drinking led to break-up of the act

1909

Keaton family made a brief trip to Europe, during which they played London's Palace

1900

The Three Keatons traveled widely, appearing all over the USA and becoming headliners in NYC; from the beginning Buster was the star of the act

1900

"Official" professional debut, October 17 at Dockstader's Theatre, Wilmington, Delaware

In the late 30s, a faulty refrigeration system in a film vault destroyed the negatives to all his silent movies

Made first stage appearance at the age of nine months, crawling into the middle of his father's blackface routine

Joined the family act before the age of three, The Two Keatons becoming The Three Keatons

Appeared in eight MGM movies, ranging from mediocre to abysmal

Drafted into Army and assigned to the 40th Infantry; posted to France

Bonus Trivia

.

While his mother gave him the birthname Joseph Frank Keaton, his father later changed it to Joseph Francis Keaton.

.

When scandal rocked Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle's world in 1921, Keaton remained a loyal friend to his mentor. Even though the courts absolved Arbuckle of any wrong doing in Virginia Rappe's death, Hollywood refused to forgive him, but Keaton stood by him, providing periodic financial support until Arbuckle's death from a heart attack in 1933.

.

The official website devoted to him can be accessed at www.busterkeaton.com

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