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Buster Keaton DIRECTOR


Joseph Frank 'Buster' Keaton was one of the silent film industry’s best filmmakers. In 1999, Entertainment Weekly hailed him as the seventh greatest director of all time. The illustrious director was born October 4, 1985 in Piqua, Kansas to a pair of vaudeville performing parents. Keaton earned his nickname of Buster when he fell down the stairs at six months of age. Houdini picked him up and dusted him off, saying to the infant’s father nearby that the fall was ‘a buster’.
At age three the child began performing onstage with his parents, where he began developing his talents for acting. He toured around the United States with them for the next seventeen years. When his father’s drinking problems escalated in 1917, Keaton left the routine and started preparing for his Broadway debut. However, an encounter with Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle got the comic actor to change his medium to film.
Buster Keaton got his first taste of directing with his third film, “The Rough House” (1917). After a few more movies, Arbuckle, Keaton, and the rest of their team moved to California. It was with the short “One Week” (1920), that his directorial career really began. He continued making two-reelers for the next three years. With “The Play House” (1921), Keaton developed innovative special effects and also began employing a moving camera, something many of his counterparts had not bought into yet. He helmed more shorts during this time, including “Neighbors” (1920), “The Boat” (1921), “Cops” (1922), and “The Electric House” (1922).
On May 31, 1921, the director married Natalie Talmadge. They had two sons together, later divorcing in 1932.
In 1923 Keaton made his debut as a motion picture director with “Three Ages”, a parody of D.W. Griffith’s 1916 film “Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages”. He followed it with “Our Hospitality” (1923), a satire on the real-life Hatfield-McCoy feud. Next came what are often regarded as his two best films: “Sherlock Jr.” (1924) and “The Navigator” (1924). The director then made “Seven Chances” (1925), “Go West” (1925), and “Battling Butler” (1926), before making what Keaton considered one of his greatest works: “The General” (1926). The civil war set picture, featuring a $42,000 train crash, unfortunately turned out to be a miss at the box office. However, the film would later be regarded as Keaton’s masterpiece, and be put in the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry as part of their National Film Preservation Act.
After he put out “College” (1927) and “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (1928), Keaton was persuaded by brother-in-law Joseph M. Schenck to leave his own studio and join MGM. Sadly, he realized too late that the studio would greatly restrict his creative output. From this point on, the director’s career and personal life began to spiral downward.
His first film at MGM, “The Cameraman” (1928), was rather successful, as was his next, his last silent film, “Spite Marriage” (1929). After this, however, his career went in decline. He stopped directing movies for the studio. As well, his marriage with Talmadge ended. Thus began a period of alcoholism, causing him to be institutionalized. He married one of his nurses, Mae Elizabeth Scrivens, in 1933 in Mexico. Keaton was fired by MGM by 1934. A year later, he divorced his second wife.

In 1934 the director was signed by Educational Pictures, where he returned to making shorts. He directed a handful of films, the best of which was “Grand Slam Opera” (1936). Keaton went back to MGM in 1937, making three single-reelers in 1938. In 1939 he helped direct the musical “Hollywood Cavalcade”.  One year following, he married for his third and last time, to twenty one year old dancer Eleanor Morris. With his marriage, Keaton’s life began to become stable. 
He acted in a number of projects, but directed only four more works before his death. They include the films “Easy to Wed” (1946), “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949), and “In My Dust” (1951), in addition to the National Film Board of Canada’ short “The Railrodder” (1965).
On February 1, 1966, seventy year old Buster Keaton died from lung cancer in Woodland Hills, California. The director has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as an Honorary Award from the Academy Awards.

Director Filmography

1965   The Railrodder 
1951   Excuse My Dust
1949   In the Good Old Summertime
1946   Easy to Wed
1939   Hollywood Cavalcade
1938   Streamlined Swing 
1938   Hollywood Handicap 
1938   Life in Sometown, U.S.A. 
1937   Love Nest on Wheels 
1936   Mixed Magic 
1936   Blue Blazes 
1936   Grand Slam Opera 
1934   Allez Oop 
1934   The Gold Ghost 
1929   Spite Marriage
1928   The Cameraman
1928   Steamboat Bill, Jr.
1927   College
1926   The General
1926   Battling Butler
1925   Go West
1925   Seven Chances
1924   The Navigator
1924   Sherlock Jr.
1923   Our Hospitality
1923   Three Ages
1923   The Love Nest 
1923   The Balloonatic 
1922   Day Dreams 
1922   The Electric House 
1922   The Frozen North 
1922   The Blacksmith 
1922   My Wife's Relations 
1922   Cops 
1922   The Paleface 
1921   The Boat 
1921   The Play House 
1921   The Goat 
1921   The 'High Sign' 
1921   Hard Luck 
1921   The Haunted House 
1920   Neighbors 
1920   The Scarecrow 
1920   Convict 13 
1920   One Week 
1917   The Rough House  

Matinee Classics - Our Hospitality starring Buster Keaton, Joe Roberts, Natalie Talmadge, Ralph Bushman, Craig Ward, Monte Collins, Joe Keaton and Kitty Bradbury
Matinee Classics - The Three Ages starring Margaret Leahy, Wallace Beery, Buster Keaton, Lillian Lawrence, Horace Morgan and Joe Roberts
Matinee Classics - The Balloonatic starring Buster Keaton and Phyllis Haver
Matinee Classics - The Balloonatic starring Buster Keaton and Phyllis Haver
Matinee Classics - The Blacksmith starring Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox and Joe Roberts
Matinee Classics - The Boat starring Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline and Sybil Seely
Matinee Classics - The Electric House starring Buster Keaton and Virginia Fox
Matinee Classics - The Goat starring Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts and Mal St. Clair

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