Wednesday, February 7, 2018

So Why Keaton, Part 1: Buster in General (no pun intended)

By now some readers might be thinking, "What's with the Buster Keaton obsession?" Well, there are dozens of reasons to lead to Keatonholism. So many, in fact, that I decided to break up this thesis type post into more than one. First I'd like to give an introduction to Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton for the sake of bringing everyone up to speed. He was born on October 4, 1895. Let's make that reason number one: the man was born 122 years ago and people still talk about him-- at least this person does. He joined his parents' vaudeville act at a very young age. Sources vary from 3-5 years old. From that point on, he never stopped working.

Young Buster with his parents, Joe and Myra, c. 1900

At 21 he entered the burgeoning world of film. Not only did he act and do fantastic stunt work but soon was writing, directing, editing, he even might have popped the popcorn at the theaters (just kidding). In addition to films made in the U.S. and Europe, Buster was on the stage, in television, made commercials, published his autobiography, won an Oscar, played baseball (at Wrigley Field no less), had two sons, built a mansion, travelled the world...

1963

I'd like to stop there, leaving the impression Buster was a god or hero, but he was human. He had his troubles too. Divorce(s), alcoholism, bankruptcy. Yet, he persevered, even triumphed. If nothing else, the man was a survivor.

So in general, Buster Keaton was an amazing person who led an amazing life. Maybe he really was a god.


Obviously this is a micro briefing on BK. If you are looking for more detailed info, check Wikipedia for a quick read. There are several biographies of Buster available. The Damfinos' (International Buster Keaton Society) website has a very informative list of books written about our hero; they also have a good biography on the same site. Documentaries have been made about Buster too; check Youtube.

UPDATE 6/19/18: The BK/Damfino Society has revamped their website and apparently removed the book recommendations.

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