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October 4, 2022

25 Exquisite Portraits of a Young Buster Keaton in the 1920s

Comedian and director Buster Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was popular for his pioneering silent comedies in the 1920s. Born to vaudeville performers, Buster Keaton began performing at age 3. He was introduced to film when he was 21 and eventually directed and starred in films in the 1920s. Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton’s “extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929” when he “worked without interruption” as having made him “the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies.”

In 1920 Keaton struck out on his own as a filmmaker, first with a series of two-reelers that included the now-classic One Week (1920), The Playhouse (1921) and Cops (1922). In 1923 Keaton started making full-length features such as The Three Ages (1923) and Sherlock, Jr. (1924). The lineup also included what is perhaps his finest creation, The General (1927), which starred Keaton as a train engineer in the Civil War. Keaton was the full force behind the film, writing and directing it. But while the movie initially proved to be a commercial disappointment, it was later hailed as a pioneering piece of filmmaking.

Woven into his films, of course, was Keaton’s trademark comedy, brilliant timing and patented facial expressions. In his early two-reelers the laugh-making included a mastery of the slapstick pie. His work also featured Keaton’s penchant for doing his own stunts, and he became somewhat of a Hollywood legend not just for his falls but for his lack of injuries.

At the height of his career, in the mid-1920s, Keaton experienced some of the same celebrity as another silent-film star, Charlie Chaplin. His salary reached $3,500 a week, and he eventually built a $300,000 home in Beverly Hills.


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