29¢ Buster Keaton
Silent Screen Stars
Issue Date: April 27, 1994
City: San Francisco, CA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Color: Red, black and bright violet
The stoic manner and poker face of Buster Keaton was as familiar to movie-goers of the 1920s as Charlie Chaplin’s baggy trousers and derby hat. Born Frank Joseph Keaton, he began performing in his parents’ vaudeville act as the “Human Mop” when he was only four. A zany combination of acrobatics and miming, their act, known as “The Three Keatons,” helped him develop his life-long trademark - a never-smiling face.
Following a successful stage career, Keaton entered filmmaking in 1917. Creating some of the most elaborate gags in silent film history, his movies were both harrowing and hilarious - usually centering on his collision with natural disasters and mechanical monsters. But whatever befell him, Keaton’s classic deadpan character “The Great Stone Face” never showed fear or alarm. A writer, director, and actor, he produced and starred in 19 short films and 10 full-length features, including such masterpieces as The Navigator (1924), The General (1926), and Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928).