In the film The Invader [also known as An Old Spanish Custom], Lupita Tovar nearly drowned in an accident on the set when she fell into the water. Seeing this, Buster jumped in to rescue her, but instead began to struggle as well. One of the crew members had to dive in and save them both.
How he summed up his own life: “Because of the way I looked on the stage and screen, the public naturally assumed I felt hopeless and unloved in my personal life. Nothing could be farther from the fact. As long back as I can remember, I have considered myself a fabulously lucky man.”
Our Hospitality is the only film to feature three generations of Keatons: Buster (as 21 years old Willie McKay), his father Joe (as the engineer) and Buster’s son James/Buster Keaton, Jr. (as 1 year old Willie McKay).
In his short Convict 13, Buster shows one of the most dangerous sight gags albeit toned down since one of the key players was missing, that he performed in vaudeville.
In the words of Marie Dressler: “Buster would stand on a table in back of his father twirling a basketball tied to the end of a rope, while his father was trying to shave himself with a straight razor. And that ball kept getting closer and closer, all the sudden, BANG!”
A list of Buster’s Seven Chances includes the names Eugenia Gilbert, Judy King, Hazel Deane and Bartine Burkett, the real names of several actresses who appear in the film.
His film The Cook was considered lost for several years. A surviving print was found and shown, for the first time in over 70 years, in Venice 1999. The surviving print was found in the attic of a former hospital in Norway. Apparently, the director of the hospital in the 1920s and 30s felt that laughter and comedy helped soothe mentally challenged patients and kept a collection of short films by Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin on hand. None of the other short films found were considered lost.
In his desperate search for a woman - any woman - to marry in the film Seven Chances, Buster is passing a variety theatre. There is a large picture of a visiting artiste who is playing there, and Buster bribes someone to let him go in at the stage door. As he goes in, a workman removes a box that was obscuring the bottom of the poster … and we see the name of the “artiste” … Julian Eltinge. Eltinge was a famous Female Impersonator, so famous that no further explanation is needed when Buster almost immediately emerges, looking disconcerted.
The diminutive steam engine used in the film Our Hospitality was a faithful, mechanically-accurate re-creation of Stephenson’s Rocket. So accurate, in fact, that it was given to the Smithsonian for display.
The idea for the film The Navigator began when Buster Keaton learned of a large passenger ship that was due to be scrapped. Seeing an opportunity, he purchased the ship for a low price and proceeded to build a story around this massive prop.
His performance as Johnnie Gray in The General is ranked #34 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time in 2006.
Few people ever repaid him. One who did was Loyal “Doc” Lucas, who said that when he paid back a loan for a car in the 1950s, Buster was so startled he could hardly believe it. “Eleanor!” he called to his wife. “I got my money back!” Lucas quoted Eleanor: “She told me later that if he got back even half the money he had loaned out, he would be a very wealthy man. That’s how generous he was.“
The pole vault near the end of the College is one of the few stunts in his career that Buster did not perform himself.
On the studio’s insistence, Buster shot an ending in The Cameraman with him smiling. It was previewed, and hated, so it was replaced with the ending the film now has.