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Biography of Buster Keaton

American actor Buster Keaton is referred to as the “comedian without a smile” in the film industry. At the height of his career, the artist’s appeal was similar to the desire for Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton, the “stone face” of silent American film, amused audiences with his lack of expression or sound. The audience laughed until they cried thanks to the artist’s subtlety and insight.

He was a genuine artist of the early days of cinema, as well as a stuntman, actor, and director. The screenwriter of the motion pictures “Sherlock Jr.,” “The Navigator,” and “The General” is Keaton. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1960 in recognition of his services to film.

Childhood

The comedian Joseph Frank Keaton is who he really is. He was Joseph Keaton and Myra Cutler’s first child, born on October 4, 1895, in the American city of Piqua, Kansas. Two additional kids joined the family later on.

His father performed in a duet with his wife while owning the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company, a touring group. He displayed humorous sketches, danced, and did acrobatics. Mother performed on a variety of instruments, including as the saxophone, which was unusual at the time. The group featured a performance by renowned magician Harry Houdini.

It’s interesting to note that the family friend Houdini was the one who suggested the moniker Buster. A youngster was miraculously saved from falling down the stairs one day, and a magician caught him. “What a buster!” he cried, implying “What a daredevil!” Keaton Jr. went by Buster after that.

Since he was a little child, his life story has been filled with exciting events: he was in a train accident, suffered a head injury after being struck by a brick, was caught in a tornado, and was at the middle of a fire. Buster was extremely fortunate.

The boy, who came from an artistic household, was destined for the stage. He made his stage debut at the age of three. Buster and his parents performed in a piece titled “The 3 Keatons.” The boy was unfazed when his father flung him at his mother, and the crowd laughed as the acrobatic feats culminated in falls.

Reputable citizens reported to the authorities that the youngster was being abused as a child and that his labor was being exploited, but Keaton did not seem to recall any terrible experiences. He took great pleasure in watching people laugh and enjoy the event. Buster was less skilled at mimicking his father’s facial expressions, but over time he started to emulate him. Subsequently, the young man developed a new persona; his face conveyed zero emotion, which had an impact.

Movies

Keaton’s father’s alcoholism led to his parents’ 1917 divorce. Buster left his parent show’s stage, but he was able to secure a part in the Broadway play for an unprecedented sum of money. He received $250 every week from the director. An acquaintance of well-known comedian Roscoe Arbuckle ended the productive partnership.

The artist was regarded as second only to Chaplin at the time. Like many others, he was a believer in the mystical power of movies. A part in the short film The Butcher’s Assistant was extended to Buster by Roscoe. When it was released in 1917, the movie was a hit.

14 more films were released after the premiere. His promising career was halted by army conscription. Keaton joined a rifle division and was dispatched to France during World War I. 1919 saw him return to his own country, where he once more started doing what he loved and working with a buddy. The two comedians’ efforts frequently brought in substantial sums of money.

Buster made the decision to give directing a go in 1920. The first piece of work was the Bertie Alstine-starring movie “Bulda.” At that point, Keaton had taken over Joseph Schenk’s firm since Arbuckle had stopped making comedies. Hard labor and perseverance were necessary to produce successful projects.

Buster gave his all both in front of and behind the camera. Critics praised the performances and direction for their expressiveness and equal attention to detail. When “Theater” was premiered in 1921, Keaton used incredible special effects for the era. The director broke with tradition and became a true innovator by using moving cameras for filming.

The actor owned a minor share in Buster Keaton Productions, the new name for the firm he led, Comic Films. The director created the story outline while filming; there were no scriptwriters employed by the company. The foundation of Keaton’s films was improvisation and gags. The cameramen spared no film, not even pausing for a minute while filming.

After shooting two movies a year, Keaton started directing feature pictures in 1923. The movie “Three Centuries,” a parody of the 1916 picture “Intolerance,” marked the first step in this direction. Cinema received two iconic pictures in 1924. In the first, titled “Sherlock Jr.”, a projectionist with aspirations of becoming a detective is told. In addition to acting, Keaton also did stunts. It would take him only ten years to learn about the neck damage he sustained while filming.

“Navigator,” the following movie, became a phenomenon. Buster rose to fame following her. The actor’s pay rose to $3.5 thousand, and he bought a lavish Beverly Hills property. Keaton directed The General, a movie about Civil War warriors, in 1927. The comic’s unique style is vividly embodied in this film. His impassive expression allows him to pull off amazing stunts, and his use of Chaplin’s insensitive methods never fails to captivate spectators.

Buster Keaton’s films stood out for their inventive production methods, spirit of exploration, experiments with multiple images, and framing overlays. The director’s technical innovation offered him an advantage over rivals in the race for public interest. Keaton paid an astounding $42,000 for the sequence in The General where he sends a locomotive across a flaming bridge.

In 1928, the actor’s last motion picture, Steamboat Bill Jr., was released in association with Buster Keaton Productions. Metro Goldwyn Mayer shares were sold by Joseph Schenk, and Keaton resigned as artistic director. The next movie, “Marriage of Spite,” was already a disaster, but at the same time, “The Cameraman,” which maintained the directing style characteristic of Buster, was released.

The first sound movies had been released by now. This was detrimental to the comedian. The studio ended their agreement with him in 1933. After going through a divorce, the director turned to booze for comfort. After traveling around Europe, he was able to recuperate. Keaton received a contract offer from Metro Goldwyn Mayer to create gags. And once more, his inventiveness astounded everyone.

After taking over as artistic director of the United Artists studio in 1938, Keaton produced a number of clever comedies that were once again quite successful at the box office. The resurgence of popularity started to wane gradually. The filmmaker started his career on television in 1949, appearing in advertisements and as a guest star in multiple TV series. The comic performed at the Buster Keaton Comedy Show and the Buster Keaton Show performances in 1949 and 1951. The audience was reminded of him and found the actor’s skill to be very impressive.

Keaton rose to fame once more on television in the 1960s. “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” and more movies added to his already impressive CV.

Individual existence

One could label Buster Keaton as antisocial. He was not fond of being popular, and he was selective about who he became friends with. Should someone befriend Keaton, he would start to make subtle jabs at the new acquaintance. Buster did not develop love ties with any of the actresses. Short intrigues and regular girls drew him in. He was regarded as a womanizer who showed interest in every female in his vicinity. The comedian’s acrobatic antics kept his body in shape and made him beautiful.

Buster disliked giving interviews, cherished a good, hearty breakfast in the morning, and was a huge baseball fan.

In 1921, Keaton wed Natalie Tolmadge, a young woman, in an attempt to better his personal life. A modest marriage was the first step toward starting a family. She gave birth to two sons, Robert and Joseph. In the movie “Our Hospitality,” the filmmaker shot scenes with his spouse, kids, and parents. The couple’s state of well-being eventually ended.

Buster started cheating after Natalie declared the end of their personal relationship. He concluded his divorce from his wife by drinking and getting married to May Scriven, a nurse, too soon.

The actor’s pals had little chance after his subsequent binge because he quickly wasted the money. He had to go back to work by 1934 and resume paying the $100 fee and lunch. Buster divorced his second wife after two years.

He was compelled by events to reevaluate his place in the world as well as his views on women, actors, and payments. His only happiness became bridge parties. Keaton met 21-year-old Eleanor Norris at one of them. 1937 saw the couple’s marriage.

The actor was revived by the girl’s efforts. The general people and the business community honored Keaton. They were able to purchase a home because to Eleanor’s frugal spending and Buster’s higher charge, and they were able to get back in touch with their sons and new grandchildren.

Death

It wasn’t until the actor’s final days that he began to suspect that he had lung cancer. The illness was what led to the demise. Keaton misdiagnosed the illness’s symptoms for bronchitis and kept working until he was dying. On February 1, 1966, he passed away at home in the arms of his wife.

His films and staged pictures are still preserved as mementos of the legendary filmmaker and comic. With one exception—the 1917 picture “Coney Island”—Buster never smiled in a motion picture.

Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are still compared by critics, who discuss their collaboration in the duet “The Pianist and the Violinist,” as well as in the movies “Footlights,” “Golf Tricks,” and “Stars Before Our Eyes.” Their underlying rivalry, their cordial friendship, and the significant impact their acting and directing left on cinema brought them together.

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