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The Religious Affiliation of
Buster Keaton
influential director and actor


Blesh's 394-page biography of Buster Keaton has no mention of any participation in organized religion on Keaton's part, aside from being christened as an infant. In a practical sense, Keaton's only religion seems to have been theater and film. From: Rudi Blesh,
Keaton, The Macmillan Company: New York, NY (1966), page 3:
In the cliched old legend the actors' child was born, as the saying went, just offstage in a theatrical trunk.

Buster Keaton comes as close to the legend as anyone could. Not only the son of theatre people, he is the child of the theatre itself and has been on the stage since he was three... it was barely offstage, and practically between acts, that Buster Keaton was born, in a boardinghouse next door to a church. The church was momentarily serving as theatre for the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company, which was merely one of the ubiquitous scores of these obscure patent-nostrum peddlers on the road at the turn of the century. It was October 4, 1895, in southeastern Kansas, in the hamlet of Piqua... Christened Joseph Frank Keaton, Buster was genealogically preceded by a direct consecutive line of five earlier generations of firstborn sons called Joseph Keaton.

Filming Seven Chances, which was one of Keaton's films that he liked least, but critics today regard it as one of his best. Blesh, page 258:
[Buster Keaton said:] "...when it came down to the finish, where my brides-to-be are chasing me--my God, we actually hired five hundred women, every shape and every size, and bridal outfits on all of 'em--well, hell I can outrun 'em. And even if they catch me, how can you end the picture? Can I marry all of 'em? Not even in Utah. Can I fight em?"

The scene was filmed, although Keaton didn't think it work. But when he screened it, he noticed people laughed at the very end, before a fade-out, when they saw him stumbling on some rocks, and three pebbles rolling, appearing to chase him. He revised the shot so that hundreds of successively larger rocks and boulders appeared to chase after him due to an avalanche his running triggered. It became a classic Buster Keaton scene.

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Webpage created 1 June 2005. Last modified 25 August 2005.
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