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Buster Keaton

Birth name: Joseph Frank Keaton
Birth: 4 Ocotber 1895
Died: 1 February 1966
Nationality: American
Buster Keaton

Career / Biography

Buster Keaton was the master of slapstick comedy and physical stunts. He was an innovator in films during the silent era and ranks alongside Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin in his contribution to cinema. He trade mark was his hat and deadpan expression. He was the man who never laughed, yet was the great comic. In 1921 he has his own studio and from there produced films where he did all his own stunts, however dangerous they were. The General was a financial failure sending Buster Keaton into depression but is now considered one of the great films. He was married three times, with his first marriage to Natalie Talmadge who appeared with him in Our Hospitality. His family had a vaudeville act with Buster being part of the act from the age of 3. From the act he learnt how to perform and more importantly how to fall without being hurt. At this time he also learnt the stone face which he realised made the audience laugh more. WHen the family act splitup he met Fatty Arbuckle and was signed up by Joseph M. Schenck and appeared in 14 films with Fatty Arbuckle starting with The Butcher Boy. In 1920 he appeared in his first feature film The Saphead. He then started directing as well as acting. The first film he directed was One Week where he builds a flat pack house and has thehe scene where the whole house is rotating. His 1921 film The Playhouse is notable for the special effects that he pioneered. In 1923 he directed two feature films Three Ages and Our Hopitality. In Our Hospitality we see his use of a train for the first time, and trains became a feature of his films. This also has the famous scene of him saving Natalie Talmadge as she goes over a waterfall. At this point he was a major star and popular at the box office. Sherlock Jr helped maintain his popularity in a fantasy where the cinema projectionist enters the film. It is a film that shows that you can doanything on film if you have the imagination. In the mid 1920's his marriage to Natalie Talmadge was breaking down and this affected his film making. In 1926 he made The General arguably the best of his films. Orson Wells said it was the greatest comedy every made. However it was not popular with critics aor at the box office and the studio did not like the cost. From this point on he was not allowed complete control of films. Only much later was it seen as a classic film. In 1928 he cam back with Steamboat Bill Jr again pushed the limits of what could be done on film. This contains his most famous stunt where the front of a building falls down and he is standing just were the window is. A stunt he did himself and with a real building and if the calculations were a few inches off he would have been killed. After this his contract was sold to MGM which he later said was his worst business decision. It also meant he lost the creative freedom of his films. The Cameraman was his first film for MGM. In 1932 he was divorced by his first wife who took the children and left him broke so he had to keep working for MGM. He then started making sound pictures. In 1933 his alcohol had affected his work somuch that he was fired by MGM. He had a short marriage to his second wife. After a short spell in Europe he returned to Hollywood and made short films for Education Pictures, notably Grand Slam Opera. This was a return to more simplistic comedies akin to his earlier work with Fatty Arbuckle. In 1940 he marride his third wife and she helped him get his life more stable and back on track. In the late 1940's and 1950's he apepared on television and gained a new audience. In 1952 he starred in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight.


A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1966) Final film
Around The World In 80 Days (1956) - Sound
Limelight (1952) - Sound
In the Good Old Summertime (1949) - Sound
The Villain Still Pursued Her (1940) - Sound
Hollywood Cavalcade (1939) - Sound
Grand Slam Opera (1936)
Speak Easily (1932) - Sound
Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931) - Sound
The Cameraman (1928)
Steamboat Bill Jr (1928)
College (1927)
The General (1926)
Seven Chances (1925)
Sherlock Jr (1924)
Three Ages (1923)
Our Hospitality (1923)
Cops (1922)
The Frozen North (1922)
The Electric House (1922)
The High Sign (1921)
The Goat (1921)
The Play House (1921)
The Boat (1921)
The Garage (1920)
Convict 13 (1920)
The Scarecrow (1920)
One Week (1920)
The Saphead (1920)
The Hayseed (1919)
The Bell Boy (1918)
The Cook (1918)
The Butcher Boy (1917)


Won - Life Time Award (1959)
Buster KeatonBuster Keaton