Monday, April 13, 2015

K for Buster Keaton



Born: October 4, 1895

Died: February 1, 1966

Aged: 70 years from lung cancer

Real Name: Joseph Frank Keaton

Nickname: "The Great Stone Face"

Married: 3 times-first to Natalie Talmadge

Famous Friend: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle

Considered THE best comedian, now, even ahead of Chaplin. Many today take from this great comedian who stated he learned everything from his friend, Fatty Arbuckle. Lucille Ball said she learned everything from Buster and he was her mentor. He was on stage by the time he could walk with his Vaudevillian parents. The father would literally hurl his son off the stage and often onto the spectators. Buster was to have gotten his name from Harry Houdini after seeing the act but no one knows for sure but the name "Buster" started with this man.  Keaton taught himself how to read and write as he had only one day of schooling. I am surprised child services wasn't all over the dad's ass. Early in his career he realized he got more laughs if he didn't smile so he decided to take that route for the rest of his career. He is the one actor who truly did ALL his own stunts from giant boulders following him downhill to a house fa├žade falling on him-with him being in the window opening with inches to spare all around! In one stunt, he was on top of a train and there was water that came out of the spout that smacked him down. He complained of a headache but thought nothing of it. A few years later when MGM took over the smaller studio he had to go for a mandatory physical and it was found he had fractured his neck!  He not only was an actor but a great director who did direct many of his films but when MGM took over he lost his independence and creative control. His work suffered,  he started to drink heavily and became an alcoholic. MGM fired him and he ended up in a sanitarium for a while. He quit drinking after many years, with the help of his last wife and in the 1950's saw his career being resurrected. He was receiving many honours for his brilliance in film. He actually loved poker and baseball, was a great prankster and loved to laugh.

Films: "The Goat", "Go West", "Sherlock Jnr", "The Navigator", "The General", "Steamboat Bill Jnr",  "The Cameraman", "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum", "Railrodder".

Quote: "They say pantomime's a lost art, It's never been a lost art and never will be, because it's too natural to do."


Yup He could have died.

The films in bold are ones I pick to see first. The Railrodder is a film from Canada and it's great!

51 comments:

  1. Before this, the only time I'd ever heard of Buster Keaton was in Benny & Joon!

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    1. He is one of the best comedians ever! I see so much of his style in the nowadays comics

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  2. I've heard of him, never knew he was an alcoholic though. Glad he beat it. Ouch, to the neck fracture, that could drive anyone to drink haha

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    1. He was but he cleaned himself up which is great and he got the recognition later in life that he deserved

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  3. He truly is great! But so sad that so many of the stars seem to descend into alcoholism.
    Anabel's Travel Blog

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    1. That is so true. Many did. You wonder how many "regular" folk succumb to it

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  4. I have seen a few shots of Buster Keaton and his exploits. It is incredible the stunts he would do. A fractured neck, must have caused him pain. MGM were stupid to take away his autonomy. They lost a great star by doing so.

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    1. MGM was stupid and I think he must have had a high threshold of pain to think it was just a headache. He is amazing what he did do

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  5. Buster Keaton had a style all his own - deadpan. I loved that. He really was a comic genius.

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  6. Glad he managed to turn it around before he died. Obviously he smoked as well as drank.

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    1. Oh yeah-they all did back then. It was great he got his recognition. Great actor and comedian

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  7. A funny, funny man. What a shame that many of the greats suffered terrible fates (lucky that he at least turned himself around).
    Didn't he make a cameo appearance in a movie from the 60s?

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    1. Oh he made more than one! He was in one of the Bikini films...or more than one plus he was in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

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  8. I think it was different back then as far as schooling compared to these days. These days he wouldn't have gotten away with just that one day of school. I have to admire him for pursuing the education he did get on his own! Wow with his own stunts! These days that wouldn't happen much either!

    betty

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    1. Yes-he was quite well read. Reminded me of my dad who was taken out of school at grade 4. He did all his own stunts-never a double and yup-wouldn't happen now-they have CGI now

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  9. I hate that I have never seen a Buster Keaton movie...ever. UGH...time for a marathon, I think!

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    1. Oh gosh yes!! My brother and I just laughed and laughed when all those boulders were chasing him never thinking he could be killed

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  10. Buster Keaton is on my list of awesome actors. I like everything about him -- his acting, his athleticism, his cuteness, his essence. He made some of his films in Niles, California, a town about 90 minutes away from us. Whenever we wander through it, I wonder if I'm walking where he walked.

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    1. Oh wow that is so cool. You should find a biography of his and look for the town

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  11. Another one I'm not terribly familiar with. I'm so surprised as I've seen SO MANY classic films.

    Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!
    S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

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    1. There are so many out there but some of the silent greats never get noticed but they are the reason films exist today

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  12. Wow. Fascinating. Another one with cancer....
    I really look forward to your posts, Birgit. They are really interesting.

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    1. Thanks! It seems Cancer and Heart attack are the main ones

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  13. I didn't know him, but I sure love the picture of him with the kitty on his head.

    Thank you for commenting on my K post today and for sharing that story about your mom, Oma, and Opa. They are true heroes. <3

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    1. It is a fun picture isn't it. You are welcome

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  14. I didn't know him, but I sure love the picture of him with the kitty on his head.

    Thank you for commenting on my K post today and for sharing that story about your mom, Oma, and Opa. They are true heroes. <3

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  15. BIRGIT ~
    Wasn't he the one who did the famous clock tower stunt? Or am I thinking of another Silent Film star?

    And, if memory serves me, I believe it was Buster Keaton whom Dick Van Dyke very loosely patterned his character after in the movie 'THE COMIC' (which also starred Mickey Rooney). I could be wrong about that, too, though.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. You are thinking about Harold Lloyd with the clock. he is one of the famous 4 of the silent era (the other 2 being Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon). I am not sure about Dick Van Dyke's character though. One should google that one but I know he loved Stan Laurel

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    2. Oh, yeah, Van Dyke practically idolized Stan Laurel, but I know that's not who he had in mind in 'The Comic'.

      And, righteo! Harold Lloyd, of course. (I knows better'n that.)

      ~ D-FensDogG

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  16. Great actor who overcame his demons, who will be remembered as a shining star instead of a abject turkey.

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  17. Afternoon movies always showed some of the best movies when I was a child of the 50s and 60s. Buster Keaton was the best.

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  18. Although I have heard of Buster Keaton- I have never seen any of his work. I will definitely have to check out one of the movies in bold. So interesting!
    ~Jess

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  19. I didn't know much about BK until I married my husband, who is one of BK's greatest fans! BK and Elvis. My hubby loves them both... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. That is cool! He must know quite a bit about Buster

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  20. One I actually have heard of! I think TV really helped his late career resurgence.

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    1. Yes I think so-That is how I first heard about him when I was little

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  21. Back in those days kids were lucky to be able to go to school. I know my grandpa had to struggle to graduate from eighth grade, and was not able to attend much of high school because he had to help out with the family. This was in the 1920's. My other grandpa did attend college, but he was younger, and that was after World War II with the help of the GI bill.

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    1. I know what you mean-my dad was taken out of Grade 4 to help his dad out and this was in the early 20's-He had me when he was 51

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  22. The photo with the kitten on his head is so adorable! Reading about childhoods like Buster had really makes one think about how much things have changed in the last 100 years.

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    1. I know! No one could do what his dad did now and get away with it

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  23. The photo with the kitten on his head is so adorable! Reading about childhoods like Buster had really makes one think about how much things have changed in the last 100 years.

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  24. A comedian many respected it appears. I have always liked physical comedy best. Interesting he did all of his stunts and amazing he lived as long as he did. Wish Hollywood would do a movie about his life (like Chaplin). Thanks, Birgit!
    Inventions by Women A-Z
    Shells–Tales–Sails

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    1. He is the only one who actually did do all his stunts. Back then there was a stuntman named Harvey Perry who did a lot of stunts for Harold Lloyd, Fairbanks in the long shots etc... but Keaton did all of his own. There is an excellent documentary about him that I saw a few years back. I wonder if it is on Youtube

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  25. Not an ideal childhood I suppose, but he did all right in the end.

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    1. He didn't mind his childhood from what I heard him say in old footage. He thought it was quite OK. MGM is what really messed him up when he lost creative control but he did do aok in the end

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  26. Thanks for the reminder of Buster Keaton's life and work. I love the photo too!

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