Buster Keaton is known for his stunt work and acrobatic athleticism as much as he is for his perpetual deadpan. Many comedians used their bodies in their craft but actors like Buster and Harold Lloyd took this physicality to another level, often risking (and sustaining) injury as a result. For the iconic scene in Steamboat Bill, Jr. where the facade of a house collapses around the film’s oblivious protagonist, many crewmembers had to look away or leave; the possibility that the star could be crushed if his position within the small window had been miscalculated by mere inches was very real.

Buster learned very early in life how potentially dangerous stunts could up the ante on a gag or be the basis for the gag itself, and he used this knowledge to great advantage throughout his independent film career. He was more than willing to go beyond run-of-the-mill pratfalls as long as he was sure that the audience would laugh.


Happy Birthday Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton VI 
4 October 1895 - 1 February 1966

My God, we ate, slept and dreamed our pictures.”

Buster Keaton remains one of the most influential filmmakers of the silent era. His innovative use of physical comedy caused him to push boundaries and reinvent how films were made. Even to this day his films continue to delight at his extremely impressive stunt work, and his character, who despite never cracking a smile, endears himself to you through every tumble. He never thought of himself as a genius but he was. 

"The medium was still in its infancy; comics were pioneering the craft of making people laugh at moving images. Keaton, it turns out, knew it all — intuitively." - Richard Corliss, TIME 

"I adore Buster Keaton." — Luis Buñuel

"Just thinking about him moves me. He is one of my witnesses when I say that some of the very best filmmakers were athletes. He was the quintessential athlete, a real acrobat." — Werner Herzog

"My favorite director of all time is Buster Keaton, and it goes deeper than just being a comedian, because he is a great director and actor and funny in an extremely human way." — Jim Jarmusch

"Keaton had a great influence on me. A lot of his moves I intuitively copied in doing some numbers. I know I was thinking of him when I did a dance with a squeaky board and a newspaper. I didn’t look like him, but I often wish I did. He was a complete genius, and there was a lot of dance inherent in his movements." — Gene Kelly

"Bach is timeless. So is Masaccio. So is Buster Keaton…" — Satyajit Ray

"Keaton was beyond all praise, a very great artist, and one of the most beautiful men I ever saw on the screen. He was also a superb director. In the last analysis, nobody came near him." — Orson Welles


Happy Birthday Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton VI
4 October 1895 - 1 February 1966

"To answer a question which has been asked of me hundreds of times: Was Buster solemn and unsmiling as he always appeared in his films? NO! A thousand times no! I’ve never known anyone to laugh more than he did. In fact, when we were shooting, he spoiled many a scene by cracking up with laughter.” - Bartine Burkett, 1981

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