Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 23
October 4, 1895
Baby Buster

Buster Keaton was born on this day in 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, where his mother Myra happened to be while touring with Keaton’s father Joe, the co-owner with Harry Houdini of a traveling show called the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company (they sold medicine on the side, hence the name). Keaton was born Joseph Frank Keaton VI but got the nickname “Buster” at about the age of six months: he fell down a long flight of stairs and when he was seemingly unharmed by the tumble, Houdini declared “That was a buster!” – and it stuck. Being from good ol’ vaudeville stock, it was only a matter of timer before Keaton was lured by the smell of the greasepaint and at the age of three he was performing with his mother and father in The Three Keatons. The act involved Myra playing sax, and Keaton Sr. manhandling cheeky Buster, throwing him around the stage, against scenery and into the orchestra pit; seemingly, he was indestructible. Despite the perception that Keaton was being subjected to child abuse, he later claimed that he loved the pratfalls, which didn’t hurt him because he knew how to fall properly. Keaton, in fact, says he would laugh while being kicked through the air, but noticed that the audience laughed less when he did so. As a result, while still little more than a baby, Keaton realized he had to put on a poker face, and so the trademark of a comedy genius came into being.


More Flashbacks
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid opens May 23, 1973
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid opens

Sam Peckinpah's neo-western Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, a tale of an outlaw being betrayed by a former friend, had to deal with another form of betrayal when it opened in May 1973.

Read more »
May 23, 1980
The Shining opens

Despite having the same initials, Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick seemed to have little in common, so when Kubrick optioned King’s novel of a haunted hotel, The Shining, after the cool reception of his previous film, Barry Lyndon, many were surprised and shocked.

Read more »