->''"He was by his whole style and nature so much the most deeply 'silent' of the silent comedians that even a smile was as deafeningly out of key as a yell... No other comedian could do as much with the dead-pan. He used this great, sad, motionless face to suggest various related things; a one track mind near the track’s end of pure insanity; mulish imperturbability under the wildest of circumstances; how dead a human being can get and still be alive; an awe-inspiring sort of patience and power to endure, proper to granite but uncanny in flesh and blood."''
-->-- '''James Agee''', ''LIFE'' magazine (5 September 1949)

Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton, Jr. (October 4, 1895 -- February 1, 1966), was the original [[TheStoic Stoic]], also known as [[FrozenFace The Great Stone Face]]. Possibly the toughest man in show business history; during one film shoot, he ''broke his neck'' and continued with the day's shooting.

Buster literally grew up on stage as part of the Three Keatons, one of the roughest acts in vaudeville. Their most famous shtick was when Pa Joe Keaton would react to Buster's mischief by literally throwing him around the stage and occasionally into the orchestra pit or the audience -- once, Joe threw Buster at hecklers who made the mistake of criticizing the saxophone playing of Myra Keaton, Joe's wife. Oh, and did we mention that they started this act when Buster was ''three years old''?

Eventually, when the act's fortunes declined and Joe got too drunk and disorderly to work with safely[[note]] Speaking of safety, Keaton repeatedly stated in interviews that he never suffered an injury as a result of being thrown; their act was designed to look improvised and violent, but in reality was quite planned and controlled.[[/note]], Buster Keaton struck out on his own. He got into film with his good friend, [[Creator/FattyArbuckle Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle]], then one of the top comedy movie stars. Following Fatty's tragic fall from grace, Keaton formed his own production company, starring in and directing some of the most innovative comedy films of his day. From this period, his full-length film ''Film/TheGeneral'' is still considered one of the best silent films ever made. He was also never afraid of new technology: for instance, for a major silent movie star at the dawn of sound films, he ''wanted'' to get into them right away. After his company was dissolved, Keaton signed a contract with {{Creator/MGM}}. The best of his MGM films are the silents ''Film/TheCameraman'' and ''Film/SpiteMarriage''. He then began making sound pictures in which he was often teamed with JimmyDurante.[[note]] Unlike many silent film stars who were ruined because their voices were odd or otherwise did not match their images, Keaton's strong barritone voice and vaudeville-honed acting and singing skills allowed him to make the transition without much difficulty. He was even a great dancer, as one would expect from his acrobatic skills, though he rarely got a chance to display that on screen.[[/note]]

Unfortunately, stress from repeated clashes with MGM management, the loss of his independence and artistic control, and a divorce from his first wife, Natalie Talmadge (in which she was awarded sole custody of their two sons), caused Keaton's drinking to develop into outright alcoholism. During the 1930s, Keaton slipped from the spotlight. He made two-reel comedies for low-budget outfits like Educational Pictures and Columbia Pictures (the latter has since become a major film production and distribution company), and worked for MGM as a gag man (where he mentored Creator/LucilleBall before she got her break as a television comedienne and worked as a gagman for the Creator/MarxBrothers' ''At The Circus''). At one point he was institutionalized because of his drinking. He wed one of his nurses, Mae Scriven, possibly during an alcoholic blackout; [[FromBadToWorse the relationship ended disastrously]] (among other things, [[KickTheDog she stole his dog and sold it]]).

Things turned around for Keaton in the 1940s. He met and married his third wife, Eleanor Norris, who helped him get his drinking under control and sometimes worked as his partner in comedy routines. This led to Buster's engagement at France's Cirque Medrano, where he drew enthusiastic audiences. A 1949 article by James Agee in ''LIFE'' magazine (see quote above) renewed interest in Keaton, and his career picked up: he starred in a short-lived TV series; guest-starred on other shows, including ''Series/TheTwilightZone'', ''Series/{{Route 66}}'', and ''Series/CandidCamera''; appeared in many commercials; and performed memorable cameos and supporting roles in such films as ''Film/SunsetBoulevard'' (playing himself), ''Film/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays1956'', Creator/CharlieChaplin's ''Film/{{Limelight}}'', ''Film/ItsAMadMadMadMadWorld'', and ''Theatre/AFunnyThingHappenedOnTheWayToTheForum''. He even collaborated with avant-garde playwright Creator/SamuelBeckett on an unusual project called ''Film''.

He lived to see his silent films preserved (including some supposedly lost films that actor Creator/JamesMason found in a house that Keaton had previously owned) and reintroduced for a new generation, and received an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Academy Award.

His life story is told in the three-part documentary series ''Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow''.
!!Short films (partial filmography):

* ''Film/ConeyIsland'' (1917)
* ''Film/TheGarage'' (1920)
* ''Film/OneWeek'' (1920)
* ''[[Film/{{Convict13}} Convict 13]]'' (1920)
* ''[[Film/{{Neighbors1920}} Neighbors]]'' (1920)
* ''Film/TheScarecrow'' (1920)
* ''Film/TheHauntedHouse'' (1921)
* ''Film/HardLuck'' (1921)
* ''Film/TheHighSign'' (1921)
* ''Film/TheGoat'' (1921)
* ''Film/ThePlayhouse'' (1921)
* ''Film/TheBoat'' (1921)
* ''Film/ThePaleface'' (1922)
* ''Film/{{Cops}}'' (1922)
* ''Film/MyWifesRelations'' (1922)
* ''Film/TheBlacksmith'' (1922)
* ''Film/TheLoveNest'' (1923)
* ''Film/TheRailrodder'' (1965)

!!Features (partial filmography)

* ''Film/ThreeAges'' (1923)
* ''Film/OurHospitality'' (1923)
* ''Film/SherlockJr''[[note]]At 45 minutes, this film is too long to be classified as a "short," yet falls well short of feature length.[[/note]] (1924)
* ''Film/TheNavigator'' (1924)
* ''Film/SevenChances'' (1925)
* ''Film/GoWest'' (1925)
* ''Film/TheGeneral'' (1926)
* ''Film/TheCameraman'' (1928)
* ''Film/SteamboatBillJr'' (1928)
* ''Film/SpiteMarriage'' (1929)
* ''Film/FreeAndEasy'' (1930)
* ''Film/{{Doughboys}}'' (1930)

!!Later film roles

* ''Film/SunsetBoulevard'' (1950) (cameo)
* ''Film/{{Limelight}}'' (1952)
* ''[[Film/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays1956 Around the World in Eighty Days]]'' (1956)
* ''Film/ItsAMadMadMadMadWorld'' (1963) (cameo)
* ''Film/BeachBlanketBingo'' (1965)
* ''Theatre/AFunnyThingHappenedOnTheWayToTheForum'' (1966)

!!Recurring tropes in Keaton's films:
* {{Adorkable}}: His characters are often sold on their endearing ineptitude. And really, just look at his expression(s).
* AffectionateParody
* AllJustADream: Used as a framing device in ''Film/SherlockJr". Unlike most examples it's made explicit up front.
* AmusingInjuries
* BadassAdorable: No matter how much of a ButtMonkey he appears, he still can kick ass and is not afraid of ridiculously dangerous situation. In ''Film/TheCameraman'' he stands in the middle of a gang fight to shoot news material on it ''and provokes the gangsters to get better pictures''.
* BookcasePassage
* ButtMonkey: Keaton's characters are constantly pushed around, bullied, mocked, and intimidated by men and laughed off or ignored by attractive women, [[SelfDeprecation even in his own films]].
* ByWallThatIsHoley: TropeCodifier. Keaton didn't invent it, but the gag will always be linked to him.
* ChaseScene: A Keaton trademark, his masterpiece ''Film/TheGeneral'' is essentially one long chase scene. And his many foot chases reveal that in his younger, fitter days Keaton was a world class sprinter, fast enough to make normal scenes look undercranked.
* ClothingDamage
* TheComicallySerious: Most of Keaton's humor comes from him stoically and pragmatically dealing with increasingly ridiculous situations.
* TheCutie: Look at the picture of him above and tell us you wouldn't want to give him a hug.
* CoolTrain: Keaton loved trains, likely from growing up on them traveling from vaudeville house to vaudeville house. His masterwork, ''Film/TheGeneral'', is the story of a young confederate desperate to retrieve his cool train after it has been stolen by union forces.
** Worthy of an honourable mention is the small motorized railcar or "speeder" Buster uses to cross Canada in ''The Railrodder''.
* {{Determinator}}: Many of his characters and the man himself.
* DoomItYourself: ''Film/OneWeek'' is about a pair of newlyweds attempting to assemble a prefabricated house, not realizing Buster's rival has re-labeled all of the boxes.
* DreamSequence
* DullSurprise: This is normally a bad thing, but Keaton turned it into comedy gold by using it as his stock reaction to utter catastrophe. His "talkie" projects also used his mellow, low pitched voice for this effect, being perfect for delivering deadpan retorts.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: Again, both in front of and behind the camera.
* EpicFail: And some of them are truly epic, like the train falling through the bridge in the climax of ''Film/TheGeneral''.
* EvilIsBigger: Keaton, who was five-and-a-half feet tall, often cast much larger actors as his rivals or nemeses.
* FakeRabies: Buster Keaton runs frantically from a dog that ate a cream pie in "The Scarecrow."
* {{Frameup}}: several Keaton films rely on this device to kick start the plot
* FromBadToWorse: Keaton's shorts mostly relied on seemingly small incidents building to an over-the-top climax
* IconicOutfit: [[NiceHat The Hat]]. The title-page and chapter-heading illustrations of his "as-told-to" autobiography, ''[[http://www.amazon.com/Wonderful-World-Slapstick-Capo-Paperback/dp/0306801787/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282462115&sr=1-1 My Wonderful World of Slapstick,]]'' are a drawing of his eyes and The Hat. '''Just''' his eyes and The Hat.
** Played with in ''Film/SteamboatBillJr'': Steamboat Bill (Sr.) is looking for his son, Willie (played by Buster), whom he hasn't seen in years, at the train station, with only the information that Willie will be wearing a white carnation. He goes up to a man bent down to fiddle with his luggage, such that only the hat and a white carnation is visible, whom he assumes to be his son, only to find that the man is black. The second time is when he's having Willie try on new hats at the haberdasher's. '''Every other hat''' that Willie tries on is a variation of the similar-looking boater (larger, and typically straw), which his father continues to veto. One hat that gets vetoed harder than the rest by his father is a miniature derby, placed rakishly on Willie's head a la Creator/CharlieChaplin. When the trademark porkpie hat ''does'' appear, Buster sees it in the mirror and quickly ditches it, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_DiaL8ETDw as seen here]].
** In ''Film/OurHospitality'', Keaton plays an early-1800s dandy - riding an early, bumpy train, he keeps hitting the ceiling and crushing his top hat down past his eyes. He finally takes it off and replaces it with his usual flat hat.
** Keaton made his own hats by modifying store-bought hats using readily available materials, like sugar water to stiffen the brim. He had to because he typically lost them or gave them away by the dozens.
* TheKlutz
* LargeAndInCharge: See EvilIsBigger, above.
* LeParkour: [[UrExample Even before David Belle!]]
* LiteralAssKicking: He even had a signature kick learned from his father, Joe
* LoveTriangle: in many of his films
* MistakenIdentity
* ThePratfall: Keaton worked hard to perfect his technique, and it showed.
* RailroadTracksOfDoom: Subverted, then played straight, at the climax of ''OneWeek"
* RubeGoldbergDevice
* SelfDeprecation: His short stature is frequently brought up as a laughing point, even in his own films. In ''Film/SevenChances'', he's laughed off and ridiculed by every woman he asks to marry him, apart from his sweetheart.
* {{Slapstick}}
* TheStoic: Known as "the great stone face", Keaton created a persona of an average everyman coping stoically as the world goes insane around him. Ironically his very stoicism allowed him to portray great emotions with small expressions. But this was just his onscreen persona; Keaton was highly animated in real life.
* ThirteenIsUnlucky
* TookALevelInBadass
* TrapDoor
* {{Undercrank}} (used sparingly)
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Keaton's masterpiece ''Film/TheGeneral'' is based on an actual incident from the AmericanCivilWar. Keaton's renaissance in the early 60's may have inspired Disney to make a dramatic feature more closely based on the same incident.
* VocalDissonance: People who expect him to have a rather high or soft voice are surprised to find that his voice (in his rare talkie roles) is rather deep and gravelly, much more than is expected from a man of his stature. Granted it complimented his deadpan acting, allowing him to continue the role as TheStoic even through dialogue.
* WhenHeSmiles: He is infamous or his forever stoic or forlorn expression, so the rare times you get so much as a glimpse of a smile from him, it's naturally a heartwarming sight.
* TheWoobie: Invoked. A good portion of the characters he plays are guys who just can't seem to catch a break, and he's so good at looking like a kicked puppy he's essentially made it an art form. It makes you wanna laugh at his misfortune, then give the poor guy a big hug.
!!Buster Keaton {{Shout Out}}s in fiction:
* ''Theatre/AFunnyThingHappenedOnTheWayToTheForum'': Buster Keaton played the role of the blind old man Erronius in the screen version. It was one of his last movie roles. He was dying of cancer. He did his own stunts. He was Awesome. Unfortunately, there was one stunt he couldn't do: The jogging through the chariot race scene was too strenuous for him and had to be done by a stunt double. So the only time he was ever doubled was his last stunt on his last film. Reportedly the entire cast and crew were in tears
* Several Creator/JackieChan movies imitate Keaton's stunts almost shot for shot. Chan was a huge fan as a kid, thanks to America's silent movies being easier to understand without speaking English.
* Most instances of ByWallThatIsHoley are based on Keaton's famous stunt in ''Film/SteamboatBillJr''
** There's a good one in the episode "The One Where They Build a House" of ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'', in which the character involved [[NamedAfterSomebodyFamous is actually named Buster]] (and looks a little bit like Keaton, as well).
** ''Series/TheGoodies'' did an episode that was part silent-film parody, including an ersatz Buster. When the Goodies have a wall fall on them and are saved by the window, they don't even notice and leave -- then the Buster lookalike comes into the scene, looks around, and takes out a small notebook to write a note to himself before leaving.
** During the barn-raising shot of the music video for Music/WeirdAlYankovic's "Amish Paradise," The front wall frame falls on Al in this fashion.
** The BusbyBerkeleyNumber at the end of ''Series/{{Jackass}} Number Two'' ends with Creator/JohnnyKnoxville doing this stunt. Which is immediately subverted as he is taken out by a surprise wrecking ball out of nowhere.
* In the RomanticComedy ''Film/BennyAndJoon,'' the character played by Creator/JohnnyDepp, Sam, is introduced reading the book ''The Look of Creator/BusterKeaton,'' wears an outfit reminiscent of Buster's, and performs Keatonesque bits of silent comedy.
* The eponymous character played by Peter Boyle in ''Series/TheXFiles'' episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" is named after a writer/director who worked with Creator/BusterKeaton (and committed suicide with a gun he'd borrowed from Keaton), while Detectives Cline and Havez are references to other Keaton collaborators, writer/director/actor Edward F. Cline and writer Jean C. Havez.
* In [[http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/DC_Special_Series_Vol_1_15 DC Specials Series #15,]] the story "Death Strikes at Midnight and Three" is about a race between the Franchise/{{Batman}} and the Gotham mob to find a blind accountant willing to testify against the gangster who employed him. The accountant's hiding place -- a theater showing Creator/BusterKeaton films (he reasoned that no one would look for a blind man at a silent movie).
* Hatabō ("Flag Boy"), a recurring character in Fujio Akatsuka's manga series ''Manga/OsomatsuKun'' is based on Creator/BusterKeaton.
* Bleu Finnegan, the main character of ''ComicBook/BlueMonday,'' is a Buster Keaton fan.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'': In the episode "Emperor Joker!", one of ComicBook/TheJoker's {{mook}}s is a [[http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/2443740.html huge, muscular version of Keaton]] (the overall effect, given Keaton's square-jawed, unsmiling face, is a bit like a caricature of Creator/BorisKarloff as the Film/{{Frankenstein|1931}} monster.)
* In ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'', the first movie the uptimers share with the downtimers once they get the TV station up and running is ''Film/TheGeneral''. While the people who run the studio want Rebecca Abarbanel to explain the film's plot beforehand, she refuses because "Keaton's comedy is timeless". She's right.
* In Creator/StephenKing's novel ''Literature/NeedfulThings'', Castle Rock's First Selectman, Danforth Keeton, is nicknamed "Buster". It's also his BerserkButton.
* In Creator/IanFleming's novel ''Literature/DiamondsAreForever'', there's a scene where Literature/JamesBond and [[BondGirl Tiffany Case]] escape from a gangster's lair via a railroad handcar. At one point she tells him, "That was quite an exit. Like something out of an old Buster Keaton film."
* An ''Series/AllInTheFamily'' episode opens with the Bunkers and Stivics returning home from seeing a Buster Keaton film at a revival house. Significantly, it's depicted as one of the rare activities that Archie and Mike enjoy equally.
* In ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'', some of Jar-Jar Binks' antics, particularly during the Battle of Naboo, were modeled after Keaton's films, such as ''Film/TheGeneral''.
* In the end of ''Film/TheFall'', Alexandria recounts various dangerous and legendary stunts as she imagines them all to be Roy; some of Keaton's most memorable stunts are showcased in the montage, and the movie ends with a scene from ''Film/ThreeAges''.
* The main character of the Academy Award winning animated short ''WesternAnimation/TheFantasticFlyingBooksOfMrMorrisLessmore'' is patterned after Keaton, with the opening hurricane sequence being a direct shout out to ''Film/SteamboatBillJr''.
* The film ''Film/JohnWickChapter2'' opens with a shot of some classic Keaton stunts projected onto a building wall, as an homage to the kind of dedicated stunt work that would help forge that movie and set the tone for what to expect in terms of action.