MUSEUM OF TELEVISION & RADIO SCREENING SERIES, THE: THE RETURN OF THE MAN IN THE PORKPIE HAT: BUSTER KEATON ON TELEVISION, PACKAGE 1: VAUDEO DAYS (1949-1954)

Summary

Vaudeo Days (1949Ð1954)

Buster Keaton made his television debut in December 1949 on Ed WynnÕs raucous vaudeo revue and two weeks later premiered his own program on KTTV. His wife Eleanor recalled the excitement of telecasting live: "A few minutes before we were to go on air, I would be onstage with a staple gun, fastening together the sets!" The end of 1950 saw them in New York for several engagements that took Keaton back to his youth in vaudeville. "Buster loved performing live," Eleanor continued, "thatÕs what he loved about televisionÑit made him feel at home."

"The Ed Wynn Show" (1949; 11 minutes) In 1917 nearly every comedian sported a derby. But when Keaton was offered a dayÕs work on Fatty ArbuckleÕs "The Butcher Boy," he decided "to get a hat that was my very own" and broke into pictures struggling to extract himself from a porkpie filled with molassesÑa historical moment he satirizes in his first television appearance.

"The Ed Wynn Show" (1950; 5 minutes) Caught without an ending for his show, Wynn called in Keaton who quickly devised a pie-throwing jamboreeÑwith the Keystone Kops as targets!

"The Buster Keaton Show" (1950; 28 minutes) In the only surviving kinescope from his first series, Keaton gets duped into six rounds with a prize slugger.

"Toast of the Town" (1950; 4 minutes) For his first East Coast show, Buster decided to go fishing.

"Toast of the Town" (1950; 7 minutes) This "putting a drunk woman to bed" sketch was created for "Spite Marriage," KeatonÕs last silent film, that had been fine-tuned (with Eleanor) in venues across Europe.

"Toast of the Town" (1950; 7 minutes) ItÕs Christmas Eve and Buster is an out-of-work Santa Claus alone in a rented room.

"Toast of the Town" (1951; 9 minutes) Buster and Eleanor spoof Romeo and Juliet and top it off with the perilous "falling house" stunt made famous in "Steamboat Bill, Jr."

"All Star Revue: The Ed Wynn Show" (1951; 7 minutes) Keaton finds himself in a sticky situation; well into his fifties, he could still take a pratfall.

"Life with Buster Keaton: 'The Little Theatre Story'" (1951; 3 minutes) For Buster, television meant "that live audience," and he felt stifled doing this series on film. Here heÕs cast in play.

"I've Got a Secret" (1954; 8 minutes) Garry Moore often worried that Keaton's rough-and-tumble antics, like the backwards spill that opens the show, would end in critical injury. Although they never flew in any of his own films, Buster had a special affinity for custard pies...as the panelists discover.

Details

  • NETWORK:
  • DATE: 1996
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:28:45
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:45350
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  • SUBJECT HEADING:
  • SERIES RUN:
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CREDITS

    • Buster Keaton