“I don’t want to be just a shadow. I’m human and I eat and sleep – my wife says I snore – and I cuss when I play golf. I’m at least half human. . . That’s the trouble with a lot of film stars – they’re just shadows, sort of dreams of a person’s imagination. I want to be real to the folks who come to see me on the screen.”

-Buster Keaton

(August 26, 1922. Honolulu Star-Bulletin.)

Boy Covets Buster’s Shoes

Buster’s oversized slap shoes were a central part of his comedy wardrobe from the very beginning of his career. So central that articles were written about them. Some of these suggested that the shoes were a copy of Charlie Chaplin’s, so then even more articles were written countering this claim and insisting that the shoes…

Buster the Scene Stealer

I came across a hilarious little article printed in 1925 recalling a few of Buster’s more unexpected contributions to the stage as a youngster. It seems that he would often decide a little something was missing in a few of the more dramatic acts, and then he would kindly oblige in filling the comedic void.…

Lake and Dana, Siamese Twins

Viola Dana and Alice Lake are little more than footnotes in books on Buster, but they were both a pretty big part of his life at the start of his film career. Buster and Viola dated and were great friends after he moved to California, and he even lived with her family for a time.…

Burlesque on Zobedie

When Buster was a boy, steeping in stage life, he enjoyed burlesquing other popular acts. As it seems much of The Three Keatons’ act was planned and timed out to the second, I imagine these moments alone on stage, obliging an encore, were the freest opportunities for him to spontaneously create and improvise. Either way…

“The Flapping Robes of a Scarecrow”

I thought this was a very fun memory of Buster’s vaudeville act with his father. What skill it would’ve taken to not hurt him! How shocking and hilarious when he was finally thrown clear! Very clever. I wish I could’ve seen it. Joe was a member of the cast and was a big part of…

The Mystery of the Dancing Doppelganger

In 1925 a film was released called The Masked Bride. It starred Mae Murray as a dancer of the Paris underground who gets caught up in romance and crime. No copies of the film survive and it is now considered lost, which is a real shame as it sounds like an interesting film in its…

Interviewed After a Fashion

Buster disliked interviews. In almost every interview I’ve read from the 1920s, the reporter feels the need to mention the scared look in his eyes and how obvious it is that he would rather be anywhere else. In this interview, he actually tries to flee the scene before it begins. It took place in early…

No, No Bananas!

It’s really amazing to me that the banana of the 1920s was a different variety than what we have today. I wonder if the thicker Gros Michel peel was more of a slipping hazard. Something to think about. And test if I ever come across one… Gros Michel banana shortages began in the 1920s. A…

The Athens Buster Keaton Club

In the early and mid 1920s, Athens Georgia was the home of a very quirky fan club. They used words like Umpty Umph, challenged each other to keep a straight face while watching Keaton comedies, and advertised so freely in the the Athens Banner-Herald that I wonder if one of their members worked for the…

A Visit from Houdini

In 1919 Harry Houdini was a motion picture actor living in California. It was an interesting phase in his career that honestly always surprises me. His motion picture endeavors ended up fizzling out after a few years, but during that time he payed visits to several studios, and one of them was Roscoe Arbuckle’s. To…

On the Set: Myra the Convict

Buster’s mother, Myra, only appeared in two of her son’s films, and those much later in his career. Those parts were due primarily to Buster’s limited funds – he several times employed his whole family and several friends while filming his later, low budget shorts. I always assumed Myra had little interest in film acting.…

Mystery: Buster the Lifeguard?

Frequently while hunting through articles I find one that makes me stop and go hmm…really? Usually it’s pretty obvious where the mix-up happened. A lot of times if a story was good, newspapers would dust it off, change the name of the film it’s related to and run it again as advertisement. At other times…

Adventures with Horses

Written for the Silent-ology 2022 Buster Blogathon. “Not being horsey people we didn’t know . . .” (My Wonderful World of Slapstick, p. 141) Not being a horsey person in the 1920s would’ve meant something very different than it does in the 2020s. Nowadays horses belong almost exclusively to the wealthy. My own experiences with…

On the Set: Man Overboard

Most of the articles describing accidents on set are about Buster. He was the one at the center of the action, pulling the dangerous stunts, never using a double. And if it’s not Buster, it’s one of the stunt men he hired to test out tricks before he performed them before a camera – every…

On the Set: Miss Marion Sproul

I recently came across an article that revealed (to me anyway) the identity of the well dressed languid beauty who orders coffee from Buster in The Cook : Miss Marion Sproul. The article also does a good job illustrating how relaxed filming must have been in those days. Two bystanders just blithely hopped into a…

Buster the . . . Hothead?

I sometimes wonder what Buster would have been like with a different father. Would he have been more confrontational or less? Did Buster’s passiveness develop in the reflection of Joe’s active – even aggressive – influence? Or was creative passiveness just a part of his original personality. Both Joe and Buster were very physical men,…

Buster the Boy

“I was then about six. I just put on my own jacket backward, held the sleeves together, hiding my hands, then wriggled, writhed, and grimaced as the audience had seen him do a few minutes before.” – Buster describing his burlesque of Houdini’s straight jacket act. (My Wonderful World of Slapstick, pg. 51) I’m good…