“The Flapping Robes of a Scarecrow”

(The Parisian, Paris, Tenn., April 1, 1921)

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 Buster’s scarecrow scenes. I wonder if there was a lot of reminiscing about this vaudeville gag on set.

Joe Roberts, Buster, and Joe Keaton in The Scarecrow (1920)

The inspiration for the outfit might possibly have come about in another way though. The papers claimed it was a true to life crow-scarer that served as Buster’s muse.

(The Bridgeport Times, December 21, 1920)

Besides the gloves, straw, and that magnificent hat, these flapping robes look pretty close to Buster’s baggy standard to me. What do you think?


I do not know who colorized the cover photo. I just came across it and though it was gorgeous. If you or someone you know (or know of) was the artist involved in bringing it to life, let me know and I’ll gladly give credit or take it down if they so wish.

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 August, 1927. Buster had just released College and was probably about to begin (or continue) work on Steamboat Bill Jr., his last independently crafted film–much of which was filmed on the river in Sacramento.

During this time Buster was already under some annoying supervision at his studio, and his marriage was entering into its final stages of suffering. The Keatons were living in their Italian Villa, newly finished the year before, and their sons were aged 5 and 3 1/2. Buster was still working at what he loved in the way that he loved to work, and didn’t yet know that his methods would shortly shrivel into something barely tolerable after his move to MGM.

College (1927)
(Daily News in Los Angeles, California, Aug 2, 1927)
  • “Worse than someone who had lent money to Julian ‘Pete'” — “Julian Petroleum Corporation (nicknamed “Julian Pete”) was a Los Angeles based oil company. It collapsed in 1927 amid large-scale fraud, taking over $150 million from 40,000 investors.”  (Wikipedia) Those high level fraudulent investor were probably pretty tight-lipped.
  • “Folded his arms a la Napoleon at Marengo” — May be referring to the difficult and indecisive nature of Napoleon’s victory in that battle. Deep thinking required.
  • “Following Rockefeller’s advice to the extent of using economy and perseverance in his words.” — I’m guessing this just means stingy and protective. Rockefeller was the richest man in American history, and the founder and head of the first monopoly trust – Standard Oil Company. (Wikipedia) He was at his height during this time.

Besides the fact that they recorded Buster’s birthdate wrong (it was October 4th) this sounds to me like it could be a pretty true account. All other facts are accurate, and the jokes and vernacular do sound to me like Buster. The description of his mannerisms and even noting Buster’s “gray eyes wide open and expressionless” (they were hazel, but that’s pretty close) all feel correct to what I’ve read about Buster in interviews. I also enjoyed seeing an account of Harry Brand interacting with Buster. I’ve only come across a few of those.