Friday, May 25, 2018

So Why Keaton, Part 5: Buster In Person

No, I never met Buster Keaton. No, I never met anyone who had met Buster Keaton. The "Six Degrees of Separation" theory might not even apply to Buster and myself so maybe I have a lot of nerve writing about Buster as a person. Or maybe I've read so much about him and watched his films so often that I should write about him as a person. Or maybe I just like to think I understand Buster as a person. My opinion is Buster was a hard-working, creative person and, of course, an all-around nice guy. To quote people much more in the know than myself: Actress Bartine Burkett said Buster "kept her in stitches," and she owned an personally inscribed portrait of Buster.

Bartine and Buster in The High Sign 1921

Loyal T. Lucas stated Buster "was one of the grandest men ever put on this earth." 

Actress Viola Dana said of Buster: "He was a darling. He was a doll." 

Viola and Buster c.1920

Actress Anita Paige inscribed a photo of herself with Buster, calling him "our dear Buster."

His wife, Eleanor, wrote: "Buster was the kindest, gentlest man I have ever known. Everyone who knew him loved him."

Eleanor with Buster 1950s

Okay, so we agree Buster was a nice guy. Nice is nice, but there was much more to his pithy character, or maybe it was all wound around his creativity. At some point when researching Buster, you notice the fact that during his entire life he only stopped working due to illness. Granted, money is a necessity in this society, but I feel Buster continually worked as a result of his upbringing and, maybe more importantly, an inner drive. Spending his childhood on the vaudeville circuit must have trained him to work hard and keep going. It was the only way of life he knew. I think the inner drive aspect can be credited to a fact that I haven't seen addressed in any Buster article: quite likely he was gifted. Contemplate some of the traits associated with gifted individuals (from NAGC):

Vivid imagination
Desire to organize people/things through games or complex schemas
Keen and/or unusual sense of humor
Puts idea or things together that are not typical
Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful

Sound like anyone we know? The trouble with giftedness is it can be a double-edged sword. You "cannot not" create. The word "driven" is often used to describe one who is gifted. I think that sums up Mr. Keaton very well.

Like all of us, Buster's character was defined by a vast amount of components. Heritage, experiences, culture, friends, sibling order-- the list goes on. An in-depth study of the BK personality would be an interesting read indeed. But maybe we need to look no further than his films. When viewing, you pick up on a vibe. His grace, his timimg, his humor. It's unique. You Keaton fans know what I'm getting at. I know the man was not perfect, but it's awfully easy to think so.

BK in Cops 1922

Note: For my simple, relatively unread, little blog, I decided not to use footnotes in this article. If you would like to know where I found the quotes contained in this post, leave a comment or shoot me an email, and I will answer your inquiry.

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