My first memory of Buster Keaton is of a film clip I saw when I was very young. Buster was trying to jump from one building top to another and missed. I discovered many years later that the scene is from Three Ages:
That scene stuck in my memory, but for many years I had no idea who it was.
In the late ’90s I was browsing in a video store and came across Our Hospitality. Looking over the cover, I knew that I’d heard of Buster Keaton, but I knew nothing about him other than that he was often compared to Chaplin, who I liked since I was a child. I rented the movie, and took it home to watch.
Well, I was immediately hooked. Buster’s style of comedy, his deadpan countenance while executing amazing stunts, and the story of a loser who comes out a winner (which gets me every time), totally won me over, and I was eager to watch more of his work.
I don’t recall which movies I watched next. But Steamboat Bill, Jr. was one of the first, and it was the one that clinched the deal, and I’ve been a big Buster fan ever since. I purchased copies of most of his movies, and have a handful of Keaton books. There are posters featuring Buster on the walls of many rooms of my home, I have a couple T-shirts bearing his likeness, and I ‘m even the proud owner of a porkpie hat:
The Damfinos hold an annual convention in Muskegon, Michigan, (where Buster’s family had a summer home). I was able to attend the convention a couple of times, in 2010 and 2011, and had the privilege of there meeting fellow Keaton fans, spending time with them, and getting to know them. The conventions featured Buster-related activities and special guests and featured screenings of Buster’s movies: in 2010 we watched The Cook, Cops, and Seven Chances; in 2011 we watched The Paleface and Go West.
At the second convention I attended, I told the Keaton Society president Patty Tobias that I’m available to help out with any Society matters needing assistance. She called me a few days later and asked me to serve as the Outreach Coordinator for the Damfinos. For the next two years I spent many fun hours searching the Internet for postings about upcoming screenings of any of Buster’s films, reposting such information on the Society’s own websources, contacting the organizers of screening events, and arranging to provide them with Society information for their attendees. I very much enjoyed the work I was able to do for the Keaton Society (and was very proud to see my name listed in the Damfino newsletter and website). Unfortunately, life got in the way, and after a couple of years, I wasn’t able to continue handling outreach for the Damfinos. I’m still in touch with the Society and hope to attend another convention some day.