One of the greatest stars of the silent movie era, and still recognised for his comedic genius even today, Buster Keaton was born Joseph Frank Keaton on October 4, 1895. His parents were both vaudeville actors, and he followed them into the trade. When Hollywood beckoned, Keaton moved to Los Angeles and throughout the Twenties, was one of the great stars of the screen. His mastery of physical comedy was combined with a deadpan stoicism so famous that he became known as ‘the Great Stone Face’.
The jump to the talkies proved to be too much for Keaton, although part of the problem was his choice of studio: MGM placed great restrictions on him creatively and forced him to use a stunt double, both of which contributed to his lack of success there. Although he scored the occasional lead role over the rest of his career (and Keaton worked right up to his death), most of his work was as a supporting actor or as a writer (he wrote for the Marx Brothers in ‘Go West’ and ‘At The Circus’, for example).
Keaton died of cancer, although he himself was told only that he had bronchitis. He was seventy years old.
|Done Too Soon — Neil Diamond|