Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1,
1966) was an American actor, comedian, film director, producer,
screenwriter, and stunt performer. He was best known for his silent
films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently
stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone
Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton's "extraordinary
period from 1920 to 1929, [when] he worked without interruption on a
series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor–director
in the history of the movies". His career declined afterward with a
dispiriting loss of his artistic independence when he was hired by
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and he descended into alcoholism, ruining his
family life. He recovered in the 1940s, remarried, and revived his
career to a degree as an honored comic performer for the rest of his
life, earning an Academy Honorary Award.
Many of Keaton's films from the 1920s, such as
Sherlock Jr. (1924),
The General (1926), and
The Cameraman (1928), remain highly
regarded, with the second of these three widely viewed as his
masterpiece. Among its strongest admirers was Orson Welles,
who stated that The General was cinema's highest achievement in
comedy, and perhaps the greatest film ever made. Keaton was
recognized as the seventh-greatest film director by Entertainment
Weekly, and in 1999, the
American Film Institute
American Film Institute ranked him the
21st greatest male star of classic Hollywood cinema.
1.1 Early life in vaudeville
Silent film era
1.3 Sound era and television
1.3.1 Educational Pictures
1.3.2 Columbia Pictures
1.3.3 1940s and feature films
1.3.4 1950s–1960s and television
2 Style and themes
2.1 Use of parody
2.2 Body language
3 Personal life
5 Influence and legacy
5.1 Pork pie hats
8 Further reading
9 External links
Buster Keaton with his parents Myra and
Joe Keaton during
a vaudeville act
Early life in vaudeville
Keaton was born into a vaudeville family in Piqua, Kansas, the
small town where his mother,
Myra Keaton (née Cutler), was when she
went into labor. He was named "Joseph" to continue a tradition on his
father's side (he was sixth in a line bearing the name Joseph
Keaton) and "Frank" for his maternal grandfather, who disapproved
of his parents' union. Later, Keaton changed his middle name to
"Francis". His father was Joseph Hallie "Joe" Keaton, who owned a
traveling show with
Harry Houdini called the Mohawk Indian Medicine
Company, which performed on stage and sold patent medicine on the
According to a frequently repeated story, which may be apocryphal,
Keaton acquired the nickname "Buster" at about 18 months of age.
Keaton told interviewer
Fletcher Markle that Houdini was present one
day when the young Keaton took a tumble down a long flight of stairs
without injury. After the infant sat up and shook off his experience,
Houdini remarked, "That was a real buster!" According to Keaton, in
those days, the word "buster" was used to refer to a spill or a fall
that had the potential to produce injury. After this, Keaton's father
began to use the nickname to refer to the youngster. Keaton retold the
anecdote over the years, including a 1964 interview with the CBC's
At the age of three, Keaton began performing with his parents in The
Three Keatons. He first appeared on stage in 1899 in Wilmington,
Delaware. The act was mainly a comedy sketch. Myra played the
saxophone to one side, while Joe and Buster performed on center stage.
The young Keaton would goad his father by disobeying him, and the
elder Keaton would respond by throwing him against the scenery, into
the orchestra pit, or even into the audience. A suitcase handle was
sewn into Keaton's clothing to aid with the constant tossing. The act
evolved as Keaton learned to take trick falls safely; he was rarely
injured or bruised on stage. This knockabout style of comedy led to
accusations of child abuse, and occasionally, arrest. However, Buster
Keaton was always able to show the authorities that he had no bruises
or broken bones. He was eventually billed as "The Little Boy Who Can't
Be Damaged", with the overall act being advertised as "The Roughest
Act That Was Ever in the History of the Stage". Decades later,
Keaton said that he was never hurt by his father and that the falls
and physical comedy were a matter of proper technical execution. In
1914, Keaton told the Detroit News: "The secret is in landing limp and
breaking the fall with a foot or a hand. It's a knack. I started so
young that landing right is second nature with me. Several times I'd
have been killed if I hadn't been able to land like a cat. Imitators
of our act don't last long, because they can't stand the
Keaton claimed he was having so much fun that he would sometimes begin
laughing as his father threw him across the stage. Noticing that this
drew fewer laughs from the audience, he adopted his famous deadpan
expression whenever he was working.
The act ran up against laws banning child performers in vaudeville.
According to one biographer, Keaton was made to go to school while
performing in New York, but only attended for part of one day. Despite
tangles with the law and a disastrous tour of music halls in the
United Kingdom, Keaton was a rising star in the theater. Keaton stated
that he learned to read and write late, and was taught by his mother.
By the time he was 21, his father's alcoholism threatened the
reputation of the family act, so Keaton and his mother, Myra, left
for New York, where Buster Keaton's career swiftly moved from
vaudeville to film.
Keaton served in the
United States Army
United States Army in
France with the 40th
Infantry Division during World War I. His unit remained intact and was
not broken up to provide replacements, as happened to some other
late-arriving divisions. During his time in uniform, he suffered an
ear infection that permanently impaired his hearing.
Silent film era
Convict 13 (1920)
A clip from the beginning of Cops (1922)
In February 1917, Keaton met Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle at the Talmadge
Studios in New York City, where Arbuckle was under contract to Joseph
Joe Keaton disapproved of films, and Buster also had
reservations about the medium. During his first meeting with Arbuckle,
he asked to borrow one of the cameras to get a feel for how it worked.
He took the camera back to his hotel room and dismantled and
reassembled it. With this rough understanding of the mechanics of the
moving pictures, he returned the next day, camera in hand, asking for
work. He was hired as a co-star and gag man, making his first
appearance in The Butcher Boy. Keaton later claimed that he was soon
Arbuckle's second director and his entire gag department. He appeared
in a total of 14 Arbuckle shorts, running into 1920. They were
popular, and contrary to Keaton's later reputation as "The Great Stone
Face", he often smiled and even laughed in them. Keaton and Arbuckle
became close friends, and Keaton was one of few people, along with
Charlie Chaplin, to defend Arbuckle's character during accusations
that he was responsible for the death of actress Virginia Rappe.
(Arbuckle was eventually acquitted, with an apology from the jury for
the ordeal he had undergone.)
The Saphead was released, in which Keaton had his first
starring role in a full-length feature. It was based on a successful
play, The New Henrietta, which had already been filmed once, under the
title The Lamb, with
Douglas Fairbanks playing the lead. Fairbanks
recommended Keaton to take the role for the remake five years later,
since the film was to have a comic slant.
After Keaton's successful work with Arbuckle, Schenck gave him his own
Buster Keaton Comedies. He made a series of two-reel
comedies, including One Week (1920), The Playhouse (1921), Cops
The Electric House (1922). Keaton then moved to
Keaton (center) in 1923, with (from left) writers Joe Mitchell, Clyde
Bruckman, Jean Havez, and Eddie Cline
Keaton's writers included Clyde Bruckman, Joseph Mitchell, and Jean
Havez, but the most ingenious gags were generally conceived by Keaton
himself. Comedy director Leo McCarey, recalling the freewheeling days
of making slapstick comedies, said, "All of us tried to steal each
other's gagmen. But we had no luck with Keaton, because he thought up
his best gags himself and we couldn't steal him!" The more
adventurous ideas called for dangerous stunts, performed by Keaton at
great physical risk. During the railroad water-tank scene in Sherlock
Jr., Keaton broke his neck when a torrent of water fell on him from a
water tower, but he did not realize it until years afterward. A scene
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. required Keaton to run into the shot and
stand still on a particular spot. Then, the facade of a two-story
building toppled forward on top of Keaton. Keaton's character emerged
unscathed, due to a single open window. The stunt required precision,
because the prop house weighed two tons, and the window only offered a
few inches of clearance around Keaton's body. The sequence furnished
one of the most memorable images of his career.
Roscoe Arbuckle, Keaton and
Al St. John
Al St. John in 1918
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), Keaton's most enduring
feature-length films include
Our Hospitality (1923), The Navigator
Sherlock Jr. (1924),
Seven Chances (1925), The Cameraman
(1928), and The General (1926). The General, set during the American
Civil War, combined physical comedy with Keaton's love of trains,
including an epic locomotive chase. Employing picturesque locations,
the film's storyline reenacted an actual wartime incident. Though it
would come to be regarded as Keaton's greatest achievement, the film
received mixed reviews at the time. It was too dramatic for some
filmgoers expecting a lightweight comedy, and reviewers questioned
Keaton's judgment in making a comedic film about the Civil War, even
while noting it had a "few laughs."
It was an expensive misfire, and Keaton was never entrusted with total
control over his films again. His distributor, United Artists,
insisted on a production manager who monitored expenses and interfered
with certain story elements. Keaton endured this treatment for two
more feature films, and then exchanged his independent setup for
employment at Hollywood's biggest studio,
Keaton's loss of independence as a filmmaker coincided with the coming
of sound films (although he was interested in making the transition)
and mounting personal problems, and his career in the early sound era
was hurt as a result.
Sound era and television
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Charlotte Greenwood in one of his first "talkies", 1931's Parlor,
Bedroom and Bath
Keaton signed with
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1928, a business decision
that he would later call the worst of his life. He realized too late
that the studio system MGM represented would severely limit his
creative input. For instance, the studio refused his request to make
his early project, Spite Marriage, as a sound film and after the
studio converted, he was obliged to adhere to dialogue-laden scripts.
However, MGM did allow Keaton some creative participation on his last
originally developed/written silent film The Cameraman, 1928, which
was his first project under contract with them, but hired Edward
Sedgwick as the official director.
Thelma Todd and
Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily
Keaton was forced to use a stunt double during some of the more
dangerous scenes, something he had never done in his heyday, as MGM
wanted badly to protect its investment. "Stuntmen don't get laughs,"
Keaton had said. Some of his most financially successful films for the
studio were during this period. MGM tried teaming the laconic Keaton
with the rambunctious
Jimmy Durante in a series of films, The
Passionate Plumber, Speak Easily, and What! No Beer? The latter
would be Keaton's last starring feature in his home country. The films
proved popular. (Thirty years later, both Keaton and Durante had cameo
roles in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, albeit not in the same scenes.)
In the first Keaton pictures with sound, he and his fellow actors
would shoot each scene three times: one in English, one in Spanish,
and one in either French or German. The actors would phonetically
memorize the foreign-language scripts a few lines at a time and shoot
immediately after. This is discussed in the TCM documentary Buster
Keaton: So Funny it Hurt, with Keaton complaining about having to
shoot lousy films not just once, but three times.
Keaton was so demoralized during the production of 1933's What! No
Beer? that MGM fired him after the filming was complete, despite the
film being a resounding hit. In 1934, Keaton accepted an offer to make
an independent film in Paris, Le Roi des Champs-Élysées. During this
period, he made another film, in England, The Invader (released in the
United States as An Old Spanish Custom in 1936).
Upon Keaton's return to Hollywood, he made a screen comeback in a
series of 16 two-reel comedies for Educational Pictures. Most of these
are simple visual comedies, with many of the gags supplied by Keaton
himself, often recycling ideas from his family vaudeville act and his
earlier films. The high point in the Educational series is Grand
Slam Opera, featuring Buster in his own screenplay as an amateur-hour
contestant. When the series lapsed in 1937, Keaton returned to MGM as
a gag writer, including the
Marx Brothers films
At the Circus
At the Circus (1939)
and Go West (1940), and providing material for Red Skelton. He
also helped and advised
Lucille Ball in her comedic work in films and
Columbia Pictures hired Keaton to star in ten two-reel
comedies, running for two years. The director was usually Jules White,
whose emphasis on slapstick and farce made most of these films
Three Stooges comedies. Keaton's personal favorite
was the series' debut entry, Pest from the West, a shorter, tighter
remake of Keaton's little-viewed 1935 feature The Invader; it was
directed not by White but by Del Lord, a veteran director for Mack
Sennett. Moviegoers and exhibitors welcomed Keaton's Columbia
comedies, proving that the comedian had not lost his appeal. However,
taken as a whole, Keaton's Columbia shorts rank as the worst comedies
he made, an assessment he concurred with in his autobiography. The
final entry was She's Oil Mine, and Keaton swore he would never again
"make another crummy two-reeler."
1940s and feature films
Keaton's personal life had stabilized with his 1940 marriage, and now
he was taking life a little easier, abandoning Columbia for the less
strenuous field of feature films. Throughout the 1940s, Keaton played
character roles in both "A" and "B" features. He made his last
starring feature El Moderno Barba Azul (1946) in Mexico; the film was
a low budget production, and it may not have been seen in the United
States until its release on VHS in the 1980s, under the title Boom in
the Moon. Critics rediscovered Keaton in 1949 and producers
occasionally hired him for bigger "prestige" pictures. He had cameos
in such films as
In the Good Old Summertime (1949), Sunset Boulevard
(1950), and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). In In The Good Old
Summertime, Keaton personally directed the stars
Judy Garland and Van
Johnson in their first scene together where they bump into each other
on the street. Keaton invented comedy bits where Johnson keeps trying
to apologize to a seething Garland, but winds up messing up her hairdo
and tearing her dress.
Keaton also had a cameo as Jimmy, appearing near the end of the film
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Jimmy assists Spencer Tracy's
character, Captain C. G. Culpepper, by readying Culpepper's
ultimately-unused boat for his abortive escape. (The restored version
of that film, released in 2013, contains a restored scene where Jimmy
and Culpeper talk on the telephone. Lost after the comedy epic's
"roadshow" exhibition, the audio of that scene was discovered, and
combined with still pictures to recreate the scene.) Keaton was given
more screen time in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
(1966). The appearance, since it was released after his death, was his
Keaton also appeared in a comedy routine about two inept stage
musicians in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight (1952), recalling the
vaudeville of The Playhouse. With the exception of Seeing Stars, a
minor publicity film produced in 1922, Limelight was the only time in
which the two would ever appear together on film.
In 1949, comedian
Ed Wynn invited Keaton to appear on his CBS
Television comedy-variety show, The
Ed Wynn Show, which was televised
live on the West Coast. Kinescopes were made for distribution of the
programs to other parts of the country since there was no
transcontinental coaxial cable until September 1951.
1950s–1960s and television
Keaton feigning getting his foot stuck in railroad tracks at Knott's
Berry Farm in 1956
In 1950, Keaton had a successful television series, The Buster Keaton
Show, which was broadcast live on a local Los Angeles station. Life
Buster Keaton (1951), an attempt to recreate the first series on
film and so allowing the program to be broadcast nationwide, was less
well received. He also appeared in the early television series Faye
Emerson's Wonderful Town. A theatrical feature film, The Misadventures
of Buster Keaton, was fashioned from the series. Keaton said he
canceled the filmed series himself because he was unable to create
enough fresh material to produce a new show each week. Keaton also
appeared on Ed Wynn's variety show. At the age of 55, he successfully
recreated one of the stunts of his youth, in which he propped one foot
onto a table, then swung the second foot up next to it, and held the
awkward position in midair for a moment before crashing to the stage
I've Got a Secret
I've Got a Secret host
Garry Moore recalled, "I asked (Keaton)
how he did all those falls, and he said, 'I'll show you'. He opened
his jacket and he was all bruised. So that's how he did it—it
hurt—but you had to care enough not to care."
Unlike his contemporary Harold Lloyd, who kept his films from being
televised, Keaton's periodic television appearances helped to revive
interest in his silent films in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1954, Keaton
played his first television dramatic role in "The Awakening", an
episode of the syndicated anthology series Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.,
Presents. About this time, he also appeared on NBC's The Martha Raye
Keaton as a time traveler in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone,
"Once Upon a Time"
Also in 1954, Keaton and his wife Eleanor met film programmer Raymond
Rohauer, with whom the couple would develop a business partnership to
re-release Keaton's films. Around the same time, after buying the
comedian's house, the actor
James Mason found numerous cans of
Keaton's films. Among the re-discovered films was Keaton's long-lost
classic The Boat. The Coronet Theatre art house in Los Angeles,
with which Rohauer was involved, was showing The General, which
"Buster hadn't seen ... in years and he wanted me to see it," Eleanor
Keaton said in 1987. "Raymond recognized Buster and their friendship
started." Rohauer in that same article recalls, "I was in the
projection room. l got a ring that
Buster Keaton was in the lobby. I
go down and there he is with Eleanor. The next day I met with him at
his home. I didn't realize we were going to join forces. But I
realized he had this I-don't-care attitude about his stuff. He said,
'It's valueless. I don't own the rights.'" Keaton had prints of
the features Three Ages, Sherlock Jr., Steamboat Bill, Jr., College
(missing one reel) and the shorts "The Boat" and "My Wife's
Relations", which Keaton and Rohauer then transferred to safety stock
from deteriorating nitrate film stock. Unknown to them at the time,
MGM also had saved some of Keaton's work: all his 1920–1926 features
and his first eight two-reel shorts.
Joe E. Brown
Joe E. Brown in the "Journey to Ninevah" episode of Route 66 from
On April 3, 1957, Keaton was surprised by
Ralph Edwards for the weekly
NBC program This Is Your Life. The half-hour program, which also
promoted the release of the biographical film The
Buster Keaton Story
with Donald O'Connor, summarized Keaton's life and career up to that
In December 1958, Keaton was a guest star as Charlie, a hospital
janitor who provides gifts to sick children, in the episode "A Very
Merry Christmas" of
The Donna Reed Show
The Donna Reed Show on ABC. He returned to the
program in 1965 in the episode "Now You See It, Now You Don't". The
1958 episode has been included in the DVD release of Donna Reed's
television programs. One of the show's cast-members, Paul
Peterson, recalled that Keaton "put together an incredible physical
skit. His skills were amazing. I never saw anything like it before or
In August 1960, Keaton played mute King Sextimus the Silent in the
national touring company of the Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress.
Eleanor Keaton was cast in the chorus. After a few days, Keaton warmed
to the rest of the cast with his "utterly delicious sense of humor",
according to Fritzi Burr, who played opposite him as his wife Queen
Aggravain. When the tour landed in Los Angeles, Keaton invited the
cast and crew to a spaghetti party at his Woodland Hills home, and
entertained them by singing vaudeville songs.
In 1960, Keaton returned to MGM for the final time, playing a lion
tamer in a 1960 adaptation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn. Much of the film was shot on location on the
Sacramento River, which doubled for the
Mississippi River setting of
Twain's original book.
In 1961, he starred in The Twilight Zone episode "Once Upon a Time",
which included both silent and sound sequences. Keaton played
time-traveler Mulligan, who traveled from 1890 to 1960, then back, by
means of a special helmet.
In January 1962, he worked with comedian
Ernie Kovacs on a television
pilot tentatively titled "Medicine Man," shooting scenes for it on
January 12, 1962—the day before Kovacs died in a car crash.
"Medicine Man" was completed but not aired. It can, however, be
viewed, under its alternative title A Pony For Chris on an Ernie
Kovacs DVD set.
Keaton also found steady work as an actor in TV commercials, including
a series of silent ads for Simon Pure Beer made in 1962 by Jim Mohr in
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York in which he revisited some of the gags from his
silent film days.
In 1964, Keaton appeared with
Joan Blondell and
Joe E. Brown
Joe E. Brown in the
final episode of The Greatest Show on Earth, a circus drama starring
Jack Palance. In November, 1965, he appeared on the CBS television
special A Salute To
Stan Laurel which was a tribute to the late
comedian (and friend of Keaton) who had died earlier that year. The
program was produced as a benefit for the Motion Picture Relief Fund
and featured a range of celebrities, including Dick Van Dyke, Danny
Kaye, Phil Silvers, Gregory Peck, Cesar Romero, and Lucille Ball. In
one segment, Ball and Keaton do a silent sketch on a park bench with
the two clowns wrestling over an oversized newspaper, until a
policeman (played by Harvey Korman) breaks up the fun. The skit called
"A Day in the Park" was filmed and broadcast in color. It marked the
only time Ball and Keaton worked together in front of a camera.
Keaton starred in four films for American International Pictures:
1964's Pajama Party and 1965's Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a
Wild Bikini and Sergeant Deadhead. As he had done in the past, Keaton
also provided gags for the four AIP films in which he appeared. Those
films' director, William Asher, who cast Keaton, recalled,
I always loved Buster Keaton. I thought, what a wonderful person to
look on and react to these young kids and to view them as the audience
might, to shake his head at their crazy antics. ... He loved it. He
would bring me bits and routines. He'd say, 'How about this?' and it
would just be this wonderful, inventive stuff. A lot of the audience
seemed to be seeing Buster for the first time. Once the kids in the
cast became aware of who he was, they all respected him and were crazy
about him. And the other comics who came in—Paul Lynde, Don Rickles,
Buddy Hackett—they hit it off with him great.
In 1965, Keaton starred in the short film
The Railrodder for the
National Film Board of Canada. Wearing his traditional pork pie hat,
he travelled from one end of Canada to the other on a motorized
handcar, performing gags similar to those in films he made 50 years
before. The film is also notable for being Keaton's last silent screen
The Railrodder was made in tandem with a
behind-the-scenes documentary about Keaton's life and times, called
Buster Keaton Rides Again, also made for the National Film Board,
which is twice the length of the short film.
He played the central role in Samuel Beckett's Film (1965), directed
by Alan Schneider; he had previously declined the role of Lucky in the
first American stage production of Waiting for Godot, having found
Beckett's writing baffling. Also in 1965, he traveled
to Italy to play a role in Due Marines e un Generale, co-starring
alongside the famous Italian comedian duo of
Franco Franchi and Ciccio
Ingrassia. In 1987 Italian singer-songwriters
Claudio Lolli and
Francesco Guccini wrote a song, "Keaton", about his work on that
Keaton's last commercial film appearance was in A Funny Thing Happened
on the Way to the Forum (1966), which was filmed in
September–November 1965. He amazed the cast and crew by doing many
of his own stunts, although
Thames Television said his increasingly
ill health did force the use of a stunt double for some scenes. His
final appearance on film was a 1965 safety film produced in Toronto,
Canada, by the Construction Safety Associations of Ontario in
collaboration with Perini, Ltd. (now Tutor Perini Corporation), The
Scribe. Keaton plays a lowly janitor at a newspaper. He intercepts a
request from the editor to visit a construction site adjacent to the
newspaper headquarters to investigate possible safety violations.
Keaton died shortly after completing the film.
Style and themes
Use of parody
Keaton (right) and
Gilbert Roland in San Sebastián, Spain, in August
Keaton started experimenting with parody during his vaudeville years,
where most frequently his performances involved impressions and
burlesques of other performers' acts. Most of these parodies targeted
acts with which Keaton had shared the bill. When Keaton transposed
his experience in vaudeville to film, in many works he parodied
melodramas. Other favorite targets were cinematic plots,
structures and devices.
One of his most biting parodies is
The Frozen North
The Frozen North (1922), a
satirical take on William S. Hart's Western melodramas, like Hell's
Hinges (1916) and The Narrow Trail (1917). Keaton parodied the tired
formula of the melodramatic transformation from bad guy to good guy,
through which went Hart's character, known as "the good badman".
He wears a small version of Hart's campaign hat from the
Spanish–American War and a six-shooter on each thigh, and during the
scene in which he shoots the neighbor and her husband, he reacts with
thick glycerin tears, a trademark of Hart's. Audiences of the
1920s recognized the parody and thought the film hysterically funny.
However, Hart himself was not amused by Keaton's antics, particularly
the crying scene, and did not speak to Buster for two years after he
had seen the film. The film's opening intertitles give it its
mock-serious tone, and are taken from "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by
Robert W. Service.
In The Playhouse (1921), he parodied his contemporary Thomas H. Ince,
Hart's producer, who indulged in over-crediting himself in his film
productions. The short also featured the impression of a performing
monkey which was likely derived from a co-biller's act (called Peter
Three Ages (1923), his first feature-length film, is a
parody of D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), from which it
replicates the three inter-cut shorts structure.
Three Ages also
featured parodies of Bible stories, like those of
Daniel. Keaton directed the film, along with Edward F. Cline.
Interview with Buster Keaton, 37:56, Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Film critic David Thomson later described Keaton's style of comedy:
"Buster plainly is a man inclined towards a belief in nothing but
mathematics and absurdity ... like a number that has always been
searching for the right equation. Look at his face—as beautiful but
as inhuman as a butterfly—and you see that utter failure to identify
sentiment." Gilberto Perez commented on "Keaton's genius as an
actor to keep a face so nearly deadpan and yet render it, by subtle
inflections, so vividly expressive of inner life. His large, deep eyes
are the most eloquent feature; with merely a stare, he can convey a
wide range of emotions, from longing to mistrust, from puzzlement to
Anthony Lane also noted Keaton's body language:
The traditional Buster stance requires that he remain upstanding, full
of backbone, looking ahead... [in The General] he clambers onto the
roof of his locomotive and leans gently forward to scan the terrain,
with the breeze in his hair and adventure zipping toward him around
the next bend. It is the angle that you remember: the figure perfectly
straight but tilted forward, like the Spirit of Ecstasy on the hood of
a Rolls-Royce... [in The Three Ages], he drives a low-grade automobile
over a bump in the road, and the car just crumbles beneath him. Rerun
it on video, and you can see Buster riding the collapse like a surfer,
hanging onto the steering wheel, coming beautifully to rest as the
wave of wreckage breaks."
Jeffrey Vance wrote:
Buster Keaton’s comedy endures not just because he had a face that
belongs on Mount Rushmore, at once hauntingly immovable and
classically American, but because that face was attached to one of the
most gifted actors and directors who ever graced the screen. Evolved
from the knockabout upbringing of the vaudeville stage, Keaton’s
comedy is a whirlwind of hilarious, technically precise, adroitly
executed, and surprising gags, very often set against a backdrop of
visually stunning set pieces and locations—all this masked behind
his unflinching, stoic veneer."
Keaton has inspired full academic study.
Natalie Talmadge and Buster Keaton, Jr. (1922)
On May 31, 1921, Keaton married Natalie Talmadge, sister-in-law of his
boss, Joseph Schenck, and sister of actresses
Norma Talmadge and
Constance Talmadge. She co-starred with Keaton in Our Hospitality. The
couple had two sons, Joseph, aka
Buster Keaton Jr. (June 2, 1922 –
February 14, 2007), and Robert Talmadge Keaton (February 3, 1924
– July 19, 2009), later both surnamed Talmadge. After the
birth of Robert, the relationship began to suffer.
Influenced by her family, Talmadge decided not to have more children,
and this led to the couple staying in separate bedrooms. Her financial
extravagance (she would spend up to a third of his salary on clothes)
was another factor in the breakdown of the marriage. Keaton dated
Dorothy Sebastian beginning in the 1920s and Kathleen Key
in the early 1930s. After attempts at reconciliation, Talmadge
divorced Keaton in 1932, taking his entire fortune and refusing to
allow any contact between Keaton and his sons, whose last name she had
changed to Talmadge. Keaton was reunited with them about a decade
later when his older son turned 18. With the failure of his marriage
and the loss of his independence as a filmmaker, Keaton lapsed into a
period of alcoholism.
In 1926, Keaton spent $300,000 to build a 10,000-square-foot
(930 m2) home in Beverly Hills designed by architect Gene Verge,
Sr., which was later owned by
James Mason and Cary Grant. Keaton's
"Italian Villa" can be seen in Keaton's film Parlor, Bedroom and Bath.
Keaton later said, "I took a lot of pratfalls to build that dump."
The house suffered approximately $10,000 worth of damage from a fire
in the nursery and dining room in 1931. Keaton was not at home at the
time, and his wife and children escaped unharmed, staying at the home
Tom Mix until the following morning.
Buster Keaton and Eleanor Norris, May 29, 1940
Keaton was at one point briefly institutionalized; according to the
TCM documentary So Funny it Hurt, Keaton escaped a straitjacket with
tricks learned from Harry Houdini. In 1933, he married his nurse, Mae
Scriven, during an alcoholic binge about which he afterwards claimed
to remember nothing (Keaton himself later called that period an
"alcoholic blackout"). Scriven herself would later claim that she
didn't know Keaton's real first name until after the marriage. The
singular event that triggered Scriven filing for divorce in 1935 was
her finding Keaton with Leah Clampitt Sewell (libertine wife of
millionaire Barton Sewell) on July 4 the same year in a hotel in Santa
Barbara. When they divorced in 1936, it was again at great
financial cost to Keaton.
On May 29, 1940, Keaton married Eleanor Norris (July 29, 1918 –
October 19, 1998), who was 23 years his junior. She has been credited
Jeffrey Vance with saving Keaton's life by stopping his heavy
drinking and helping to salvage his career. The marriage lasted
until his death. Between 1947 and 1954, they appeared regularly in the
Cirque Medrano in Paris as a double act. She came to know his routines
so well that she often participated in them on TV revivals.
Keaton's grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Keaton died of lung cancer on February 1, 1966, aged 70, in Woodland
Hills, California. Despite being diagnosed with cancer in January
1966, he was never told that he was terminally ill or that he had
cancer; Keaton thought that he was recovering from a severe case of
bronchitis. Confined to a hospital during his final days, Keaton was
restless and paced the room endlessly, desiring to return home. In a
British television documentary about his career, his widow Eleanor
told producers of
Thames Television that Keaton was up out of bed and
moving around, and even played cards with friends who came to visit
the day before he died. Keaton was interred at the Forest Lawn
Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California.
Influence and legacy
Keaton's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Keaton was presented with a 1959
Academy Honorary Award at the 32nd
Academy Awards, held in April 1960. Keaton has two stars on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame: 6619 Hollywood Boulevard (for motion
pictures); and 6225 Hollywood Boulevard (for television).
Jacques Tati is described as "taking a page from Buster Keaton's
A 1957 film biography, The
Buster Keaton Story, starring Donald
O'Connor as Keaton was released. The screenplay, by Sidney
Sheldon, who also directed the film, was loosely based on Keaton's
life but contained many factual errors and merged his three wives into
one character. A 1987 documentary, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to
Follow, directed by
Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, won two Emmy
International Buster Keaton Society was founded on October 4,
1992 – Buster’s birthday. Dedicated to bringing greater
public attention to Keaton’s life and work, the membership includes
many individuals from the television and film industry: actors,
producers, authors, artists, graphic novelists, musicians, and
designers, as well as those who simply admire the magic of Buster
Keaton. The Society’s nickname, the "Damfinos," draws its name from
a boat in Buster’s 1921 comedy, "The Boat."
Keaton in costume c. 1939, wearing his signature pork pie hat
In 1994, caricaturist
Al Hirschfeld penned a series of silent film
stars for the United States Post Office, including Rudolph Valentino
and Keaton. Hirschfeld said that modern film stars were more
difficult to depict, that silent film comedians such as Laurel and
Hardy and Keaton "looked like their caricatures".
Keaton's physical comedy is cited by
Jackie Chan in his autobiography
documentary Jackie Chan: My Story as being the primary source of
inspiration for his own brand of self-deprecating physical comedy.
Comedian Richard Lewis stated that Keaton was his prime inspiration,
and spoke of having a close friendship with Keaton's widow Eleanor.
Lewis was particularly moved by the fact that Eleanor said his eyes
looked like Keaton's.
At the time of Eleanor Keaton's death, she was working closely with
Jeffrey Vance to donate her papers and photographs to
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The book
Buster Keaton Remembered, by Eleanor Keaton and Vance, published after
her death, was favorably reviewed.
In 2012, Kino Lorber released The Ultimate
Buster Keaton Collection, a
Blu-ray box set of Keaton's work, including 11 of his feature
Pork pie hats
Keaton designed and modified his own pork pie hats during his career.
In 1964, he told an interviewer that in making "this particular pork
pie", he "started with a good
Stetson and cut it down", stiffening the
brim with sugar water. The hats were often destroyed during
Keaton's wild film antics; some were given away as gifts and some were
snatched by souvenir hunters. Keaton said he was lucky if he used only
six hats in making a film. Keaton estimated that he and his wife
Eleanor made thousands of the hats during his career. Keaton observed
that during his silent period, such a hat cost him around two dollars;
at the time of his interview, he said, they cost almost $13.
Buster Keaton filmography
^ a b c
Meade, Marion (1997). Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase. Da
Capo. p. 16. ISBN 0-306-80802-1.
^ Obituary Variety, February 2, 1966, page 63.
^ Barber, Nicholas (8 January 2014). "
Deadpan but alive to the future:
Buster Keaton the revolutionary". The Independent. Retrieved 3
^ a b Ebert, Roger (November 10, 2002). "The Films of Buster Keaton".
Archived from the original on November 3, 2015. Retrieved January 28,
^ "Buster Keaton's Acclaimed Films". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They.
Retrieved September 29, 2016.
^ "Sight & Sound Critics' Poll (2002): Top Films of All Time".
Sight & Sound via Mubi.com. Archived from the original on January
29, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
^ "Votes for The General (1924)". British Film Institute. Retrieved
September 29, 2016.
^ Andrew, Geoff (January 23, 2014). "The General: the greatest comedy
of all time?". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on
September 6, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
Orson Welles interview, from the Kino Nov 10, 2009 Blu-Ray edition
of The General
^ "The 50 Greatest Directors and Their 100 Best Movies". Entertainment
Weekly. April 19, 1996. p. 2. Archived from the original on June
26, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
^ "AFI Recognizes the 50 Greatest American Screen Legends" (Press
release). American Film Institute. June 16, 1999. Archived from the
original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
^ Stokes, Keith (ed.). "
Buster Keaton Museum". KansasTravel.org.
Archived from the original on January 16, 2016. Retrieved February 17,
^ a b c McGee, Scott. "Buster Keaton: Sundays in October". Turner
Classic Movies. Retrieved October 19, 2017. Note: Source
misspells Keaton's frequent appellation as "Great Stoneface".
Deadpan an interview with Buster Keaton, 1964 interview
of Buster and Eleanor Keaton by
Fletcher Markle for the CBC.
^ a b c "Part I: A
Vaudeville Childhood". International Buster Keaton
Society. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved
February 17, 2010.
^ "Buster Keaton". Archive.sensesofcinema.com. February 1, 1966.
Archived from the original on February 2, 2010. Retrieved February 17,
^ "Part II:The Flickers". International
Buster Keaton Society. October
13, 1924. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved
February 17, 2010.
^ Martha R. Jett. "My Career at the Rear /
Buster Keaton in World War
^ Master Sergeant Jim Ober. "Buster Keaton: Comedian, Soldier".
California State Military Museum.
Yallop, David (1976). The Day the Laughter Stopped. New York: St.
Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-18410-0.
^ Maltin, Leonard, The Great Movie Comedians, Bell Publishing, 1978
^ "Reviews : The General/Steamboat Bill Jr". The DVD Journal.
Retrieved February 17, 2010.
^ "Moving Pictures: Buster Keaton's 'General' Pulls In To PFA.
Category: Arts & Entertainment from The Berkeley Daily
Planet – Friday November 10, 2006".
Berkeleydaily.org. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
^ "Buster-Keaton.com". Buster-Keaton.com. Retrieved February 17,
^ a b
Everson, William K. American Silent Film. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1978. p. 274-5.
^ Gill, David,
Brownlow, Kevin (1987). Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to
Follow. Thames Television. pp. Episode three.
^ a b Knopf, Robert The Theater and Cinema of
Buster Keaton By p.34
^ Kathleen Brady (May 31, 2014). "Lucille The Life of Lucille
Ball – Kathleen Brady". kathleenbrady.net.
^ a b Okuda, Ted; Watz, Edward (1986). The Columbia Comedy Shorts.
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 139.
^ "The House Next Door: 5 for the Day: James Mason".
www.slantmagazine.com. August 24, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
^ a b c Lovece, Frank (June 1987). "Where's Buster? Despite Renewed
Interest, Only a Handful of Buster Keaton's Classic Comedies Are on
Tape". Video. Archived from the original on August 31, 2013. Retrieved
August 31, 2013.
^ "Series Details". Cinema.ucla.edu. Retrieved February 17,
Donna Reed Show" A Very Merry Christmas (1958)". Us.imdb.com.
Retrieved February 17, 2010.
^ Peterson, Paul, The Fall of
Buster Keaton (2010, Scarecrow Press)
Meade, Marion (1997). Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase. Da Capo.
p. 284. ISBN 0-306-80802-1.
^ Crowther, Bosley (August 4, 1960). "The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn (1960)". The New York Times.
^ Spiro, J. D. (February 8, 1962). "Ernie Kovacs' Last Interview". The
Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
Buster Keaton For Simon Pure Beer – Brookston Beer
Bulletin". Brookston Beer Bulletin. 2015-10-04. Retrieved
^ This is mentioned on p. 202 in The Lucy Book by Geoffrey Mark
Fidelman (Renaissance Books).
^ Lovece, Frank (February 1987). "Beach Blanket Buster". Video.
Archived from the original on August 31, 2013. Retrieved August 31,
Buster Keaton Rides Again: Return of 'The Great Stone Face'".
^ Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, Chap. 3, Thames Television,
^ a b c d Knopf, Robert The Theater and Cinema of
Buster Keaton By
Mast, Gerald (1979) The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Moviesp.135
^ a b Balducci, Anthony (2011) The Funny Parts: A History of Film
Comedy Routines and Gags p.231
^ "Laurel & Hardy". google.com.
^ a b Keaton, Eleanor, and Vance, Jeffrey.
Buster Keaton Remembered,
H.N. Abrams, 2001, pp. 95
^ "Interview with Buster Keaton". Studs Terkel Radio Archive.
Retrieved September 29, 2016.
^ Thomson, David, Have you Seen...?, Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, 2008,
^ Perez Gilberto 'The Material Ghost—On Keaton and Chaplin' 1998
^ Lane, Anthony, Nobody's Perfect, Knopf Publishing, 2002, pgs.
^ Vance, Jeffrey. "Introduction." Keaton, Eleanor and Jeffrey Vance.
Buster Keaton Remembered. Harry N. Abrams, 2001, pg. 33.
^ Trahair, Lisa. "The Narrative-Machine: Buster Keaton’s Cinematic
Comedy, Deleuze’s Recursion Function and the Operational Aesthetic".
^ James Talmadge at the United States
Social Security Death Index via
FamilySearch.org. Retrieved on December 7, 2015.
^ Robert Talmadge at the United States
Social Security Death Index via
FamilySearch.org. Retrieved on December 7, 2015.
^ Cox, Melissa Talmadge, in Bible, Karie (May 6, 2004). "Interviews:
Melissa Talmadge Cox (Buster Keaton's Granddaughter)". Archived from
the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015. My Dad
was christened Joseph Talmadge Keaton.
^ McPherson, Edward, Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat, 2005
^ The City of Beverly Hills: Historic Resources Inventory
^ "Mrs. Keaton, Children Rescued from Blaze". The Pittsburgh Press.
January 11, 1930. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
^ "Buster Keaton's Second Wife Sues Him for Divorce". Reading Eagle.
July 18, 1935. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
^ Dardis, Tom, Buster Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down, 1996
^ Vance, Jeffrey. "Introduction." Keaton, Eleanor and Jeffrey Vance.
Buster Keaton Remembered. Harry N. Abrams, 2001, pg. 29.
^ "Buster Keaton, 70, Dies on Coast. Poker-Faced Comedian of Films".
The New York Times. February 2, 1966. Retrieved July 4, 2008. Buster
Keaton, the poker-faced comic whose studies in exquisite frustration
amused two generations of film audiences, died of lung cancer today at
his home in suburban Woodland Hills.
^ Turner Classic Movies.
^ "Buster Keaton". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original
on May 28, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
^ "Vladamir Nabokov". jacquestati.com.
^ Erickson, Hal. "The
Buster Keaton Story".
All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide /
The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
^ "Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (American Masters)". Emmys.com.
Retrieved June 22, 2014.
^ Associated Press, Polly Anderson, January 20, 2003. "Famed
Al Hirschfeld Dies".
^ Leopold, David. Hirschfeld's Hollywood, Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, p. 20.
^ TCM voice-over, October 2011, "
Buster Keaton Month".
Buster Keaton Papers". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Retrieved January 10, 2015.
^ Kehr, Dave (August 24, 2001). "At the Movies > Keaton Close-Up".
The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
^ Loos, Ted (April 8, 2001). "A Hat Comes With It". The New York
Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
^ Lax, Eric (August 2, 2001). "The Genius and Pain of a Stone-Faced
Comic". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
^ Hames, James (May 25, 2001). "Review: '
Buster Keaton Remembered'".
Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
^ Rafferty, Terrence (January 2013). "DVD Classics: Laugh Out Loud".
DGA Quarterly. Winter. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
^ a b "How To Make A Porkpie Hat. Buster Keaton, interviewed in 1964
at the Movieland Wax Museum by Henry Gris". Busterkeaton.com.
Retrieved February 17, 2010.
Agee, James, "Comedy's Greatest Era" from Life (September 5, 1949),
reprinted in Agee on Film (1958) McDowell, Obolensky, (2000) Modern
Keaton, Buster (with Charles Samuels), My Wonderful World of Slapstick
(1960) Doubleday, (1982) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-306-80178-7
Blesh, Rudi, Keaton (1966) The Macmillan Company
Lahue, Kalton C., World of Laughter: The Motion Picture Comedy Short,
1910–1930 (1966) University of Oklahoma Press
Lebel, Jean-Patrick (fr),
Buster Keaton (1967) A.S. Barnes
Brownlow, Kevin, "Buster Keaton" from The Parade’s Gone By (1968)
Alfred A. Knopf, (1976) University of
McCaffrey, Donald W., 4 Great Comedians: Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton,
Langdon (1968) A.S. Barnes
Buster Keaton (1969) Indiana University Press, in
association with British Film Institute
Robinson, David, The Great Funnies: A History of Film Comedy (1969)
Durgnat, Raymond, "Self-
Help with a Smile" from The Crazy Mirror:
Hollywood Comedy and the American Image (1970) Dell
Maltin, Leonard, Selected Short Subjects (first published as The Great
Movie Shorts, 1972) Crown Books, (revised 1983) Da Capo Press
Gilliatt, Penelope, "Buster Keaton" from Unholy Fools: Wits, Comics,
Disturbers of the Peace (1973) Viking
Mast, Gerald, The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies (1973, 2nd ed.
1979) University of Chicago Press
Kerr, Walter, The Silent Clowns (1975) Alfred A. Knopf, (1990) Da Capo
Press ISBN 0-394-46907-0
Anobile, Richard J. (ed.), The Best of Buster: Classic Comedy Scenes
Direct from the Films of
Buster Keaton (1976) Crown Books
Yallop, David, The Day the Laughter Stopped: The True Story of Fatty
Arbuckle (1976) St. Martin's Press
Byron, Stuart and Weis, Elizabeth (eds.), The National Society of Film
Critics on Movie Comedy (1977) Grossman/Viking
Moews, Daniel, Keaton: The Silent Features Close Up (1977) University
Everson, William K., American Silent Film (1978) Oxford University
Maltin, Leonard, The Great Movie Comedians (1978) Crown Books
Dardis, Tom, Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down (1979) Scribners,
(2004) Limelight Editions
Benayoun, Robert, The Look of
Buster Keaton (1983) St. Martin's Press
Staveacre, Tony, Slapstick!: The Illustrated Story (1987) Angus &
Edmonds, Andy, Frame-Up!: The Shocking Scandal That Destroyed
Hollywood's Biggest Comedy Star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (1992) Avon
Kline, Jim, The Complete Films of
Buster Keaton (1993) Carol Pub.
Meade, Marion, Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (1995) HarperCollins
Rapf, Joanna E. and Green, Gary L., Buster Keaton: A Bio-Bibliography
(1995) Greenwood Press
Oldham, Gabriella, Keaton's Silent Shorts: Beyond the Laughter (1996)
Southern Illinois University Press
Horton, Andrew, Buster Keaton's
Sherlock Jr. (1997) Cambridge
Bengtson, John, Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the
Buster Keaton (1999) Santa Monica Press
Knopf, Robert, The Theater and Cinema of
Buster Keaton (1999)
Princeton University Press ISBN 0-691-00442-0
Keaton, Eleanor and Vance, Jeffrey
Buster Keaton Remembered (2001)
Harry N. Abrams ISBN 0-8109-4227-5
Mitchell, Glenn, A–Z of Silent Film Comedy (2003) B.T. Batsford Ltd.
McPherson, Edward, Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat (2005)
Newmarket Press ISBN 1-55704-665-4
Neibaur, James L., Arbuckle and Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations
(2006) McFarland & Co.
Neibaur, James L., The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM,
Educational Pictures, and Columbia (2010) Scarecrow Press
Neibaur, James L. and Terri Niemi,Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts (2013)
Oderman, Stuart, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle: A Biography of the Silent
Film Comedian (2005) McFarland & Co.
Keaton, Buster, Buster Keaton: Interviews (Conversations with
Filmmakers Series) (2007) University Press of Mississippi
Brighton, Catherine, Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of
Buster Keaton (2008) Roaring Brook Press (An illustrated children's
book about Keaton's career)
Smith, Imogen Sara, Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy (2008)
Gambit Publishing ISBN 978-0-9675917-4-2
Carroll, Noel, Comedy Incarnate: Buster Keaton, Physical Humor, and
Bodily Coping (2009) Wiley-Blackwell
Find more aboutBuster Keatonat's sister projects
Media from Wikimedia Commons
Quotations from Wikiquote
Data from Wikidata
Buster Keaton on IMDb
Buster Keaton at the TCM Movie Database
Buster Keaton at Find a Grave
Buster Keaton at Rotten Tomatoes
Buster Keaton Society
Buster Keaton Museum
Buster Keaton and the Muskegon Connection
Buster Keaton in Five Easy Clips
Buster Keaton Photo Galleries (includes rare images of BK smiling and
Buster Keaton as a child performer (Univ. of Washington/Sayre
Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts (1920–1923) by James L. Neibaur and
Films directed by Buster Keaton
The Rough House
The Haunted House
The High Sign
My Wife's Relations
The Frozen North
The Electric House
The Love Nest
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
(for Educational Pictures)
The Gold Ghost
Tars and Stripes
Grand Slam Opera
One Run Elmer
Love Nest on Wheels
Academy Honorary Award
Warner Bros. /
Charlie Chaplin (1928)
Walt Disney (1932)
Shirley Temple (1934)
D. W. Griffith
D. W. Griffith (1935)
The March of Time
The March of Time /
W. Howard Greene and
Harold Rosson (1936)
Edgar Bergen /
W. Howard Greene /
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art Film Library /
Mack Sennett (1937)
J. Arthur Ball /
Walt Disney /
Deanna Durbin and
Mickey Rooney /
Gordon Jennings, Jan Domela, Devereaux Jennings, Irmin Roberts, Art
Smith, Farciot Edouart, Loyal Griggs, Loren L. Ryder, Harry D. Mills,
Louis Mesenkop, Walter Oberst /
Oliver T. Marsh and Allen Davey /
Harry Warner (1938)
Douglas Fairbanks /
Judy Garland /
William Cameron Menzies / Motion
Picture Relief Fund (Jean Hersholt, Ralph Morgan, Ralph Block, Conrad
Nagel)/ Technicolor Company (1939)
Bob Hope /
Nathan Levinson (1940)
Walt Disney, William Garity, John N. A. Hawkins, and the RCA
Manufacturing Company /
Leopold Stokowski and his associates / Rey
Scott / British Ministry of Information (1941)
Charles Boyer /
Noël Coward /
George Pal (1943)
Bob Hope /
Margaret O'Brien (1944)
Republic Studio, Daniel J. Bloomberg, and the Republic Studio Sound
Walter Wanger / The House I Live In / Peggy Ann Garner
Harold Russell /
Laurence Olivier /
Ernst Lubitsch / Claude Jarman Jr.
James Baskett / Thomas Armat, William Nicholas Selig, Albert E. Smith,
George Kirke Spoor
George Kirke Spoor /
Bill and Coo / Shoeshine (1947)
Walter Wanger /
Monsieur Vincent /
Sid Grauman /
Adolph Zukor (1948)
Jean Hersholt /
Fred Astaire /
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille / The Bicycle Thief
Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer /
George Murphy /
The Walls of Malapaga (1950)
Gene Kelly /
Merian C. Cooper
Merian C. Cooper /
Bob Hope /
Harold Lloyd / George Mitchell / Joseph
M. Schenck /
Forbidden Games (1952)
20th Century-Fox Film Corporation / Bell & Howell Company / Joseph
Breen / Pete Smith (1953)
Bausch & Lomb Optical Company /
Danny Kaye / Kemp Niver / Greta
Jon Whiteley /
Vincent Winter / Gate of Hell (1954)
Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1955)
Eddie Cantor (1956)
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers / Gilbert M.
"Broncho Billy" Anderson /
Charles Brackett /
B. B. Kahane (1957)
Maurice Chevalier (1958)
Buster Keaton /
Lee de Forest
Lee de Forest (1959)
Gary Cooper /
Stan Laurel /
Hayley Mills (1960)
William L. Hendricks / Fred L. Metzler /
Jerome Robbins (1961)
William J. Tuttle
William J. Tuttle (1964)
Bob Hope (1965)
Yakima Canutt /
Y. Frank Freeman
Y. Frank Freeman (1966)
Arthur Freed (1967)
John Chambers /
Onna White (1968)
Cary Grant (1969)
Lillian Gish /
Orson Welles (1970)
Charlie Chaplin (1971)
Charles S. Boren /
Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson (1972)
Henri Langlois /
Groucho Marx (1973)
Howard Hawks /
Jean Renoir (1974)
Mary Pickford (1975)
Margaret Booth (1977)
Walter Lantz /
Laurence Olivier /
King Vidor / Museum of Modern Art
Department of Film (1978)
Hal Elias /
Alec Guinness (1979)
Henry Fonda (1980)
Barbara Stanwyck (1981)
Mickey Rooney (1982)
Hal Roach (1983)
James Stewart /
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts (1984)
Paul Newman /
Alex North (1985)
Ralph Bellamy (1986)
Kodak Company /
National Film Board of Canada
National Film Board of Canada (1988)
Akira Kurosawa (1989)
Sophia Loren /
Myrna Loy (1990)
Satyajit Ray (1991)
Federico Fellini (1992)
Deborah Kerr (1993)
Michelangelo Antonioni (1994)
Kirk Douglas /
Chuck Jones (1995)
Michael Kidd (1996)
Stanley Donen (1997)
Elia Kazan (1998)
Andrzej Wajda (1999)
Jack Cardiff /
Ernest Lehman (2000)
Sidney Poitier /
Robert Redford (2001)
Peter O'Toole (2002)
Blake Edwards (2003)
Sidney Lumet (2004)
Robert Altman (2005)
Ennio Morricone (2006)
Robert F. Boyle (2007)
Lauren Bacall /
Roger Corman /
Gordon Willis (2009)
Kevin Brownlow /
Jean-Luc Godard /
Eli Wallach (2010)
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones / Dick Smith (2011)
D. A. Pennebaker
D. A. Pennebaker /
Hal Needham /
George Stevens Jr.
George Stevens Jr. (2012)
Angela Lansbury /
Steve Martin /
Piero Tosi (2013)
Jean-Claude Carrière /
Hayao Miyazaki /
Maureen O'Hara (2014)
Spike Lee /
Gena Rowlands (2015)
Jackie Chan /
Lynn Stalmaster /
Anne V. Coates / Frederick Wiseman
Charles Burnett /
Owen Roizman /
Donald Sutherland / Agnès Varda
ISNI: 0000 0003 6850 0426
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