Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words: 3 thinkers, BUSTER KEATON & his boys

By Steve Crum

Emulating Rodin's famous "The Thinker" bronze and marble sculpture, BUSTER KEATON (center), a stone face in his own right, strikes the pose while flanked by equally pensive sons Robert (left) and James. Probably taken in 1931 or '32, Buster was nearing the end of his marriage to actress Natalie Talmadge. They were married from 1921-32. [from Steve Crum's showbiz memorabilia collection]
BUSTER KEATON (Oct. 4, 1895-Feb. 1, 1966) is considered one of the greatest film comedians and directors of all time, based largely on his body of silent film work from 1920-29. During that period, Keaton's brilliant output included cinema gems The Navigator, Sherlock Jr., Our Hospitality, Steamboat Bill Jr., and The General. In fact, The General registers on most all-time film lists as one of the top comedies ever made. Orson Welles, whose Citizen Kane consistently makes the top of the top movie lists, hailed Keaton's skills as a comedian, actor and director. Citing The General, Welles said it is "the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made."

Buster Keaton, called The Great Stoneface because of his deadpan expression while acting, was born Joseph Frank Keaton in Piqua, Kansas, a stone's throw from Iola, Kansas, where each year for the past 17 years, a Buster Keaton Celebration has been held to celebrate Keaton's film genius. Special guests have included Keaton's widow, Eleanor (now deceased), Kevin Brownlow, James Karen, Steve Allen, Edie Adams, Leonard Maltin, and Keaton's granddaughter.

This year's 18th Annual Celebration, Sept. 24-25, Keaton & The Tragic Clowns Harry Langdon, Raymond Griffith, Charley Chase, will honor Buster and three of his contemporaries. Admission is free for the two-day event. Be sure to book your motel early. Iola is about a two hour drive from Kansas City. Check out more specifics: http://iolakeatoncelebration.org/
Then there is the International Buster Keaton Society's annual celebration in Muskegon, Michigan, Oct. 1-2. Sponsored by The Damfinos, the official name of the fan club, this year's theme is The Year of the Chase. Registration fees vary from $80-$125. More information is here: http://silent-movies.com:80/Damfinos/home.html
Interested in joining The Damfinos? Link here: http://www.busterkeaton.com/
Please enjoy Buster Keaton and excerpts from his classic, The General: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3xh108cLbo

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