My love of him first started at approximately 7:05 pm on June 1st. My knowledge of him began about 5 minutes earlier -- when I cued up "Sherlock Jr." on Netflix. Prior to that time, I knew the name and had a notion of him being a film star of the silent era. Beyond that I knew nothing. Thank heavens that while doing research for our family's classic film project, I thought to include something he'd done to our list.
This natural talent for poetry in motion is typified by Keaton's very first appearance onscreen in a movie called "The Butcher Boy." In his biography of Keaton, ("Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat"), Edward McPherson shares the story. Keaton was taken to a Fatty Arbuckle movie set by a mutual friend one day, just to check it all out. The movie was filming and Fatty apparently asked Buster (who had tons of vaudeville and stage comedy experience but no prior experience with movies) if he'd like to appear on screen as an extra. Buster declined. Fatty stopped production for a bit in order to show his friend's buddy around the set and the ins and outs of what was going on; by the end of the tour, Buster had changed his mind and Fatty wrote him in to the production. (Gotta love how the movie biz worked back then.)
If you're interested in Buster Keaton, check out the new blog What Would Buster Keaton Do. It features information and writing on his life and films.