Buster Keaton biography 2022

Actor Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton biography

Buster Keaton (Joseph Francis Keaton) was born on October 4, 1895.

Buster Keaton was an American actor and film director. He is regarded in film history as the only comedian who can measure up to Charles Chaplin, even though the two artists were far apart in artistic character and temperament.


Keaton grew up in a family of acrobats and made his debut at three in his parents' variety show. At the age of six, he had become the number's main attraction and had learned the violent displays that became one of his characteristics throughout the best part of his film career. The family troupe was successful under The Three Keatons but disbanded in 1917, after which Keaton began his film work.


Keaton was first a partner with Fatty Arbuckle, but from the autumn of 1920 got his own series of short farces, approx. 20 films established his type and his universe: the handsome, gentle, and dignified young man with an almost expressionless face and the constant struggle against the tyranny of the dead. Highlights of the series include One Week (1920), where Keaton struggles with a self-build house, and Cops (1922), where he is pursued by hundreds of police officers for no apparent reason.

Feature film

From 1923, Keaton switched to making only feature films, and the 11 films he managed to write, direct or co-direct and take part in before the breakthrough of sound films are almost without exception masterpieces of film history; most memorable are Our Hospitality (1923), The Navigator (1924) and The General (1926). The world of films is often Victorian. The adored heroines are delicate and endearingly helpless, continuously contributing to the aggravation of his mischief, the eternal struggle against the dead things that seem to take on a dramatic life of their own when they can brace their legs for his energetic and acrobatic efforts to win the beloved. On the whole, Keaton was fascinated by mechanics, and his excursions into the modern world, for example, in The Cameraman (1928), place him as an innocent pawn in a hectic universe where everything seems to fall on his ears.

From 1920 Keaton was his own producer and thus had complete artistic and financial control of his work, but in 1927 he entered into a contract with MGM. It did not immediately dampen his genius, which, i.a. The Cameraman testifies, but conflicts arise. On top of this, the breakthrough of sound films in 1927-1931 coincided with a crisis in Keaton's private life with divorce and alcohol problems, although in the period 1929-1966, he appeared in approx. 75 short and long films, his career effectively ended when silent films stopped. From the tone film years, the incomparable scene in Chaplin's Limelight (1952) is mainly remembered, where the two greatest comedians in film history appear together for a few minutes for the first and only time.

Before his death, Buster Keaton managed to be rediscovered and made the object of fanatical adoration. He described his life in the autobiography My Wonderful World of Slapstick (1960).

In 2018 came the documentary The Great Buster, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

Died on February 1, 1966.

last updated October 2022

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