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Buster Keaton ACTOR
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BUSTER KEATON BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:

Buster Keaton was born October 4th, 1985 in Piqua, Kansas, United States, to parents Joe and Myra Keaton who were vaudevillians.   His birth name was Joseph Francis Keaton VI, but he was given the nickname 'Buster' at an early age.  When only 18 months old, he fell down the stairs and was picked up by the famous magician, Houdini who was known to have said, "That's some buster your baby took." Hence, here is where he first received his nickname, 'Buster'.   At the young age of three, his parents added him to their vaudevillians act.  He remained with the family act until 21 years of age, until the group broke up due to his fathers excessive drinking problem.  Keaton was then hired to appear solo in the Broadway revue, "The Passing Show" (1917) at a salary of $250 per week.  Buster was also given the opportunity right before practicing for the Broadway Revue to play a small role in, "The Butcher Boy", a two-reel comedy film directed by and starring Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle.

Buster Keaton was intrigued by the technical side of theater and got hired working for Arbuckle on a weekly salary of $40.  He learned many aspects of the motion picture industry, and when Arbuckle left to make features for Paramount, Keaton took over the company with Joseph Schenck handling the business end of things as he had for Arbuckle. His work was briefly interrupted when he went to serve in the military during World War I as a cryptographer with U.S. forces in France.

 In 1920 Keaton initiated his own two-reel series with the brilliant, "One Week". In "The Playhouse" (1921), Keaton played every part in a theater: the whole orchestra, the actors, all nine blackface minstrels, both halves of a dance act, and every single member of the audience, young and old, male and female.  Within only 3 years he was starring in films such as, "The Three Ages" (1923).  He was known for his lack of expression, hence the nickname " The Great Stone face" and his artistic and illustrative comedy.  He did many silent features such as, "The Saphead" (1920), and "Sherlock, Jr." (1924) but those lacked financial gain. After his high point in his career, Keaton's unique contribution to the screen was only then fully appreciated.  His Civil War comedy, "The General" (1926), was actually a financial disappointment when first released, but today it is seen as a accomplished piece of work.  In one film, "Sherlock Jr." he played a film projectionist who became involved in the action on screen.  Other masterpieces include "The Boat", "Our Hospitality" and "The Navigator".

His brother In Law Joseph Schenck convinced him to leave his own studio and join MGM and accept a $3000 per week salary.  This new job had many expectations of him and the stress was causing him to drink heavily.  His final silent (and by general agreement the last authentic Keaton film), "Spite Marriage" (1929), and the talkie "Free and Easy" (1930), before normality set in. By 1933 both studio and wife had dropped him as a alcoholic and had lost all faith in his talent.

His first wife, Natalie Talmadge whom he has married in 1921, from which he had two sons, soon ended in a bitter divorce in 1928.  Alcoholism and mental illness started to take it's toll on him and he went in to a deep depression for quite a while. He was married again to his 2nd wife Mae Scribbens in 1933 however again only 3 years later was divorced.  Finally in 1940 he married Eleanor Norris, who was 23 years younger then him.  She was the saving grace to his alcoholism and near tumbling career. He had not worked in a while and then in 1947, he took an opportunity to perform at the circus in Paris. He performed numerous times before receiving an offer to work in a television show.  This show gave him his next working opportunity to perform on Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight’". 

 Keaton was also known to have done all of his own stunts and often acted as a stunt double for other actors.  He was earning nearly as much money in the last decade of his life as during his time at the top.  Although he did not have the brilliance of Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy, some still consider Keaton the most gifted comedian of the silent film era.  Unlike Chaplin's warm comedies, Keaton's humor was cool and aloof.  Keaton never lost his creativity, only his creative control. The public was denied the kind of films he would have made had anyone allowed him to continue his success and share his unbelievable talent.  He died February 1, 1966, in Woodland Hills, California from Lung Cancer at the age of 70 in his sleep.  

He was a polished performer and one quote he said exhibits the type of man he was. "I think I have had the happiest and luckiest of lives. Maybe this is because I never expected as much as I got . . . And when the knocks came, I felt it was no surprise. I had always known life was like that, full of uppercuts for the deserving and undeserving alike."  His memory lives on in his films.

Famous Works:

Credits; Film Appearances; Silent Short Films

The Butcher Boy, Paramount, 1917.

Coney Island (also known as Fatty at Coney Island), Paramount, 1917.

A Country Hero, Paramount, 1917.

His Wedding Night, Paramount, 1917.

Oh Doctor!, Paramount, 1917.

A Reckless Romeo, Paramount, 1917.

The Rough House, Paramount, 1917.

Title role, The Bell Boy, Paramount, 1918.

Assistant chef, The Cook, Paramount, 1918.

Woman with umbrella, Good Night, Nurse!, Paramount, 1918.

Revenue agent, Moonshine, Paramount, 1918.

Gambler, Out West (also known as The Sheriff), Paramount, 1918.

Stagehand, Back Stage, Paramount, 1919.

Mechanic and firefighter, The Garage (also known as Fire Chief), Paramount, 1919.

General store manager, The Hayseed, Paramount, 1919.

Golfer-turned-prisoner and guard, Convict 13, Metro Pictures, 1920.

Neighbors, Metro Pictures, 1920.

Man, One Week, Metro Pictures, 1920.

Dabb's assistant, Forever and a Day, RKO, 1920.

Bertie "The Lamb" Van Alstyne, The Saphead, Metro Pictures, 1920.

Farmhand, The Scarecrow, Metro Pictures, 1920.

The Boat, First National, 1921.

The Goat, Metro Pictures, 1921.

Hard Luck, Metro Pictures, 1921.

The Haunted House, Metro Pictures, 1921.

The High Sign, Metro Pictures, 1921.

The Paleface, First National, 1921.

The Playhouse, First National, 1921.

Skirts (live action and animated), Fox Film Corporation, 1921.

Blacksmith's assistant, The Blacksmith, First National, 1922.

The young man, Cops, First National, 1922.

Daydreams, First National, 1922.

The Electric House, First National, 1922.

The Frozen North, First National, 1922.

My Wife's Relations, First National, 1922.

The Balloonatic, Associated, 1923.

Elmer, The Love Nest, Associated, 1923.

Willie McKay, Our Hospitality, Metro Pictures, 1923.

Credits; Film Work; Director, Unless Otherwise Indicated; Silent ShortFilms

Stunt performer, A Desert Hero, Paramount, 1919.

Convict 13, Metro Pictures, 1920.

Neighbors, Metro Pictures, 1920; and editor, One Week, Metro Pictures, 1920.

The Scarecrow, Metro Pictures, 1920.

The Boat, First National, 1921.

The Goat, Metro Pictures, 1921.

Hard Luck, Metro Pictures, 1921.

The Haunted House, Metro Pictures, 1921.

The High Sign, Metro Pictures, 1921.

The Paleface, First National, 1921.

The Playhouse, First National, 1921.

The Blacksmith, First National, 1922; and editor, Cops, First National, 1922.

Daydreams, First National, 1922.

The Electric House, First National, 1922.

The Frozen North, First National, 1922.

My Wife's Relations, First National, 1922.

The Balloonatic, Associated, 1923.

The Love Nest, Associated, 1923.

Our Hospitality, Metro Pictures, 1923.

Credits; Film Appearances; Silent Full-Length Films

The boy, The Three Ages, Metro Pictures, 1923.

Rollo Treadway, The Navigator, Metro-Goldwyn, 1924.

Operator, Sherlock Jr., Metro Pictures, 1924.

Jimmie Shannon, Seven Chances, Metro-Goldwyn, 1925.

Friendless, Go West, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1925.

Alfred Butler, Battling Butler, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1926.

Ronald, College, United Artists, 1927.

Johnnie Gray, The General, United Artists, 1927.

Buster, The Cameraman, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928.

William Canfield Jr., Steamboat Bill Jr., United Artists, 1928.

Credits; Film Work; Director, Unless Otherwise Noted; Silent Full-Length Films

The Three Ages, Metro Pictures, 1923; and editor, The Navigator, Metro-Goldwyn, 1924; and editor, Sherlock Jr., Metro Pictures, 1924; and editor, Seven Chances, Metro-Goldwyn, 1925.

Go West, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1925.

Battling Butler, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1926; and editor, The General, United Artists, 1927.

Producer, The Cameraman, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928.

Credits; Film Appearances; Short Films with Sound

Allez Oop, Educational, 1934.

The Gold Ghost, Educational, 1934.

 Hayseed Romance, Educational, 1935.

One Run Elmer, Educational, 1935.

Tars and Stripes, Educational, 1935.

Blue Blazes, Educational, 1936.

The Chemist, Educational, 1936.

Grand Slam Opera, Educational, 1936.

Mixed Magic, Educational, 1936.

Sunkist Stars at Palm Springs, 1936.

Three on a Limb, Educational, 1936.

Ditto, Educational, 1937.

Jail Bait, Educational, 1937.

Love Nest on Wheels, Educational, 1937.

The Spook Speaks, Columbia, 1940.

The Taming of the Snood, Columbia, 1940.

  





Matinee Classics - The General starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley and Frederick Vroom
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Matinee Classics - Speak Easily starring Buster Keaton, Jimmy Durante, Ruth Selwyn, Thelma Todd, Hedda Hopper, William Pawley, Sidney Toler, Lawrence Grant, Henry Armetta and Edward Brophy
Matinee Classics - The General starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley and Frederick Vroom
Matinee Classics - Speak Easily starring Buster Keaton, Jimmy Durante, Ruth Selwyn, Thelma Todd, Hedda Hopper, William Pawley, Sidney Toler, Lawrence Grant, Henry Armetta and Edward Brophy
Matinee Classics - The General starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley and Frederick Vroom
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Matinee Classics - Around the World in 80 Days starring David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine and Robert Newton
Matinee Classics - Buster Keaton


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