TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (6)
|Also Known As:||Died:||February 1, 1966|
|Born:||October 4, 1895||Cause of Death:||lung cancer|
|Birth Place:||Piqua, Kansas, USA||Profession:||Cast ...|
RATE AND COMMENT
Made first stage appearance at the age of nine months, crawling into the middle of his father's blackface routine
Joined the family act before the age of three, The Two Keatons becoming The Three Keatons
"Official" professional debut, October 17 at Dockstader's Theatre, Wilmington, Delaware
The Three Keatons traveled widely, appearing all over the USA and becoming headliners in NYC; from the beginning Buster was the star of the act
Keaton family made a brief trip to Europe, during which they played London's Palace
Father's drinking led to break-up of the act
Accepted a part in the Broadway show "The Passing Show of 1917" at $250 a week but broke contract after meeting Rosco 'Fatty' Arbuckle and appearing in his first film
First short film as actor, "The Butcher Boy", written and directed by Arbuckle
Drafted into Army and assigned to the 40th Infantry; posted to France
Played a straight role in his first feature, "The Saphead"; made on loan to Metro Pictures
Took over Joseph Schenck's Comique Films (formerly headed by Arbuckle)
First short film as director, "The High Sign" (shelved and not released until 1921)
First released short film as director, "One Week"; co-helmed with Eddie Cline
With Cline, co-wrote and co-directedthe two-reeler "The Playhouse", a special effects tour de force in which he appeared on screen simultaneously nine times, even performing a dance with himself
Comique Films name changed to Buster Keaton Productions (though Schenck still owned it)
Completed first feature comedy, "The Three Ages", a spoof of D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance" (1916)
Released "Sherlock Jr" and "The Navigator"; the former considered by many as one of (if not) his finest films
His best-known film "The General" opened to unfavorable critical response
Last film released under the umbrella of "Buster Keaton Productions", "Steamboat Bill Jr"
Signed contract with MGM
First picture for MGM, "The Cameraman", well up to the standard of his best independent features
Last silent feature, "Spite Marriage"
Made first talking film as actor "The Hollywood Revue of 1929"
Appeared in eight MGM movies, ranging from mediocre to abysmal
MGM contract terminated
Made French film, "Le roi des Champs-Elyses"; never released in USA
Signed contract with Educational Films for two-reelers
Made "Grand Slam Opera", his favorite short for Educational
Educational Films closed down
Signed contract with MGM as gagman only
In the late 30s, a faulty refrigeration system in a film vault destroyed the negatives to all his silent movies
Last directing assignments, three single-reelers for MGM ("Life in Sometown, USA", "Hollywood Handicap", "Streamlined Swing")
Signed contract with Columbia; made 10 shorts over the next two years
Toured USA in detective play, "The Gorilla"
First appearance at Cirque Medrano, Paris (as Malec)
Made TV debut re-enacting a scene from "The Butcher Boy" on "The Ed Wynn Show" (CBS)
James Agee's essay in LIFE sparked renewed interest in silent films, particualrly the work of Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Harry Langdon
Appeared as himself in Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard"
Acted in Chaplin's "Limelight" (only time the two appeared together)
Met businessman Raymond Rohaurer who would pull together a collection of prints of Keaton's silent films
Actor James Mason, then-owner of the villa Keaton had built for former wife Natalie Talmadge in 1925, discovered a cache of film cans in a locked vault in a gardner's shed which contained prints of all of Keaton's silent features and many of his short comedies too, a veritable treasure trove from which Rohaure could begin his work
Appeared in Michael Anderson's "Around the World in 80 Days"
Paramount released "The Buster Keaton Story", starring Donald O'Connor
Awarded a special Oscar for "his unique talents which brought immortal comedies to the screen"
Acted in Stanley Kramer's "It a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Received standing ovation as special guest at the Venice Film Festival where "Film", a 22-minte short written for him by Samuel Beckett, premiered
Last film appearances (excluding archival footage) in Richard Lester's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and Luigi Scattini's "War Italian Style" (released in the USA in 1967)
Last film unearthed and restored by Rohaurer (with Kevin Brownlow), the 1921 short "Hard Luck", premiered at London's Palladium
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