Keaton celebration enters its 21st year

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September 19, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Buster Keaton will be the entertainment rage hereabouts, starting Friday of next week and continuing through Saturday (Sept. 27-28), with the 21st annual Buster Keaton Celebration.
Most activities, which annually draw fans of the silent screen genius from many states and several foreign countries, will unfold in the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. No charge is made for any events, but, organizers said, “donations are very much appreciated, this year more than ever.”
The event is steeped in tradition and none more so than the first-day 10 a.m. pilgrimage to the Buster Keaton Museum in Piqua, with the caravan starting from the Bowlus Center.
Keaton, son of touring vaudevillians, was born in Piqua Oct. 4, 1895, while his parents were performing there. He was christened Joseph Frank Keaton.
When, at six months, he tumbled down a flight of stairs unharmed, he was given the name “Buster” by Harry Houdini who, along with W.C. Fields, Bill Robinson (“Bojangles”), Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson shared headlines with “The Three Keatons”: Buster, his father Joe Keaton and mother Myra Keaton.
For the record, Keaton, who eventually transitioned to sound films and in the twilight of his career appeared on television, died Feb. 1, 1966.
Registration for the weekend to take an in-depth look at “The Fabulous Fifties” will start in the Bowlus lobby at 1 o’clock Friday afternoon.
From then on presenters and films will document the 1950s and Keaton’s role in entertainment.
The celebration’s schedule:
Friday, Sept. 27
1:30 p.m.: The First Keaton and Chaplin Collaboration, with the film “Seeing Stars,” 1922, featuring Hooman Mehran.
2:20 p.m.: Hollywood and McCarthyism, featuring James Karen, actor and longtime friend of he Keaton family; interview with Dr. Frank Scheide.
3:20 p.m.: Screening of Keaton and Chaplin shorts, including commercials and cartoons.
7:30-10 p.m.: “Out West,” 1918, short film starring Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle, live music by Jeff Rapsis; “A King in New York,” 1957, feature starring Charlie Chaplin.
Saturday, Sept. 28
9:10 a.m.: Friendship, Film Collaboration and Coping with McCarthyism in the 1950s: Jerome “Jerry” Epstein’s Audio Memoir on Charlie Chaplin, featuring Dr. Frank Sheide, University of Arkansas.
10 a.m.: Tow Exiles Face the Cold War: Charlie Chaplin, King Shahdov and “A King in New York” (1957), featuring Dr. Charles Maland, J. Douglas Bruce chair of English and Cinema Studies at University of Tennessee.
11 a.m.: The American Counterculture and Chaplin’s “Little Tramp,” 1953-1977, featuring Dr. Lisa Stein Haven, Ohio University, Zanesville.
1:20 p.m.: Limelight: The Chaplin Archives, featuring Kate Guyonvarch, Chaplin office director, Roy Export S.A.S., Bubbles Inc. S.A..
2:10 p.m.: The Talmadge and Keaton Families, featuring Melissa Talmadge Cox, granddaughter of Keaton, and Barbara Talmadge, daughter-in-law of Keaton, with David MacLeod.
3:10 p.m.: Saturday afternoon screening: “Her Sister from Paris” (1926), feature film starring Constance Talmadge and Ronald Coleman, with live music by Jeff Rapsis.
7:30-10 p.m.: Saturday evening screenings: “One A.M.” (1916), Charlie Chaplin short; “Seven Chances” (1925), feature film starring Buster Keaton, with live music by Jeff Rapsis.
Funding for the celebration is provided by the Kansas Humanities Council.

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