On This Day

Buster Keaton

Full Name: Frank Joseph Keaton
Profession: Actor, Director and Screenwriter

Nationality:
United States of America
American

Why Famous: Buster Keaton was one of the great American film stars of the silent area, known for his comedies and deadpan expression that had him christened 'Great Stone Face'.

Keaton began his show business career in vaudeville at age four as part of his parents touring act. Legend has it that family friend Harry Houdini gave him the name Buster after he fell down some stairs.

Keaton met Fatty Arbuckle on the street one day and was invited to take a small part in one of his films. The two became friends and Keaton said Arbuckle taught him all he knew of film. Keaton made his first feature film "Three Ages" in 1923. He then went on to make some of his most successful films including "Sherlock Jr." (1925) and "The General" (1927), the later now regarded as his masterpiece. Keaton's comedies are characterized by ingenious and often dangerous stunts which he coordinated and performed himself.

In 1928 he made what he called the worst profession decision of his life, signing his production company over to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and losing creative control. A period of alcoholism followed and he was sacked from MGM in 1933.

His career eventual revived with appearances at Paris’s Cirque Medrano with his wife Evelyn. He went on to appear in new roles in film, including with Charlie Chaplin in "Limelight" (1952) and " It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963). He was honored with a special Academy Award in 1959.

Born: October 4, 1895
Birthplace: Piqua, Kansas, USA

Generation: Lost Generation
Star Sign: Libra

Died: February 1, 1966 (aged 70)


Historical Events

  • 1927-02-05 "The General", American silent film directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, starring Al Boasberg, premieres in New York City
  • 1952-10-23 Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight", starring himself and Claire Bloom, with an appearance by Buster Keaton, premieres in New York City; Not released in Los Angeles until 1972, winning Chaplin his only competitive Academy Award for original score