Eleventh Annual Buster Keaton Celebration
Bowlus Fine Arts Center, Iola, Kansas September 26 & 27, 2003

—Select a thumbnail photo to see the larger version

The Mont Alton Motion Picture Orchestra

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra accompanies silent films in authentic period style. Most silent films did not have definitive scores—the music was left up to the musical directors of each theater, who pieced together scores from their music libraries. Mont Alto's repertoire includes several thousand orchestrations photocopied from the surviving collections of four silent film theater music directors. Although a movie palace orchestra could number as many as 100 musicians, small ensembles such as Mont Alto were much more common, and the music was carefully orchestrated to accommodate such smaller groups. Their work is incredible!
Kevin Johnson, cello Rodney Sauer, piano Susan Hall, violin Brian Collins, flute Mark Hyams, trumpet
Members of The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra are:
Kevin Johnson, Rodney Sauer, Susan Hall, Brian Collins and Mark Hyams

The 2003 celebration offered a host of wonderful speakers and topics!
See Schedule and Speakers (below) for details.

Mary Martin. director of Iola's Bowlus Fine Arts Center,  introduces Saturday's proceedings
David Macleod, back to Iola from the United Kingdom (with his mom, Shirley, along this year), provides a very "scholarly" presentation Fred Krebs, Dr. James Welsh, Dr. Stanford Singer, Dr. Greg Black, Dan Kamin, and Dr. John Tibbetts share insights at a Saturday late afternoon wrap-up session
Michael Hansen spoke for the younger generationBill Shaffer wears MANY hats, onstage and behind the scenes, at the Keaton Celebration. His Keaton tie is on loan from actor Jim Karen.
Michael studies philosophy in college
John Tibbetts has presented at all Keaton Celebrations since 1993. He also helps plan the event and does art for promotional posters
Ron Pesch is from Muskegon, Buster's summer home
Ron Pesch, on his first visit to Iola, talks with professional mime, Dan Kamin, here for his third festival
Ron's PowerPoint presentation shows a young Buster
Frank Scheide Jr. and Martha Jett with special guest Jeanne Keaton Holler (standing), Buster's first cousin


Five talented actors comprised the St. George Mohawk Indian Medicine Show Players teamed onstage with professional mime Dan Kamin and local Buster Keaton look-alike Keith Goering to provide vaudeville "snippets" of live theatre throughout the celebration. Mohawk players included Judy Dockrey Young, Richard Alan Young, Connie High, and Mike Prince. On Saturday evening the players presented "Then Came the Storm," PERHAPS the melodrama performed in Piqua by a traveling troop containing Joe and Myra Keaton, on the evening of October 4, 1895. Buster was born there later that evening, and the rest is History!
"Rules for Good Writers" A silly story about a rabbit named "Foot" July Dockrey Young reads "The Letter Home from Alaska" "Who's On First?" Richard Alan Young sells tonic "Then Came the Storm"
"A Musical Interlude" Keith Goering as Buster Keaton Dan Kamin works with volunteers from the audience Dan directs 11 year old volunteer Scott Tolzman as a "drummer" Dan, with two assistants, does a death-defying tightrope act

Bless the volunteers

Iola citizens and out-of-towners alike donate their time to making the Keaton Celebration a success each year. Volunteers plan the program, acquire speakers, promote the event, help with sales, answer questions, and keep the program running smoothly. Many thanks to our volunteers.
Jane Bartholomew glows with generosity, enthusiasm, and hard work! Iola residents volunteer their weekend to help greet guests and sell raffle tickets. Other Iola residents sell snacks and memorabilia in the downstairs lounge area This volunteer wore her "Buster Hat." Does anyone recognize where this photo was taken? Iota Nu chapter of Phi  Tau Omega served luncheon to Saturday's presenters
Bill Shaffer with the poster he designed for Friday night's movie showing Bill Shaffer with the poster he designed for Saturday night's movie showing Amy Specht from Piqua has served on the Keaton planning committee since its beginning in 1993 Frank Scheide Jr. is co-chair of the Keaton planning committee and on-stage presenter Mary Martin (rt), director at Iola's Bowlus Center, gives Marion Cott (left) of the Kansas Humanities Council a plaque of apprecation for years of support of the Keaton Celebration

Quilt raffle

Special thanks go to Kathy Metzenbauer of Wisconsin, sister of co-chair Frank Scheide of the Keaton planning committee. She created two unique throw pillows and a glorious quilt. Kathy has made three heirloom quilts, each raffled to raise funds for the next Keaton Celebration. Those who know Kathy missed her at this year's celebration and hope she can attend next year.

Two photo-pillows were raffled The quilt included photos of The Three Keatons Kathy's beutiful early-days Buster quilt

Evening movies

Good crowds attended both the daytime symposium and the evening movie performance. Approximately 480 people signed registration books during daytime programing and each evening show was estimated at topping 450. On Saturday evening the upper balcony had to be opened—a sure sign of a good crowd. People attended the festivities from 16 U.S. states, 31 cities in Kansas and three foreign countries. Saturday night, in Steamboat Bill, Jr., Buster battled a fierce Mississippi cyclone and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra received another standing ovation at the end of the evening's performance!
Buster wakes up in a hospital without roof or walls A classic cinema moment occurs when the front of a house falls, with Buster standing exactly where an open window saves him from disaster The Mont Alto Orchestra plays under the movie screen Saturday evening's movie crowd Buster battles a stiff wind

Fans, one and all...

The Buster Keaton fans keep coming back. Martha came from West Virginia. Rochelle came from New Jersey ("This year I got time off from work."). Steve came from New York City in 2001. In 2002 he brought his wife, Maggie, and friend Karl. In 2003 they are all back and have Maggie's parents in tow. Lisa came from California with a new model-slim body. Darren, an optometry student from Berkley, CA, (whose first love is filmmaking) came to see this public showing of his homage film to Buster, The Scapegoat. He brought along his brother, Derrick, and friend, Mark. Here their film received a standing ovation. Dan and Doug came from the Kansas City, MO metropolitan area. Marion came from Topeka, and Ron came from Muskegon, MI. Keith is a hometown Iola fan. Other fans came from many states and cities. They are not pictured here, but all love Buster!
Martha, Maggie and Karl
Lisa, with Keaton painting by Gerald Potterton, Canadian film director and 2002 Buster Award winner. Mark, Darren & Derrick

Steve and Bill Rochelle
Keith Keith with Chaplin suspendersDan
Ron shares copies of Joe Keaton postcards with Buster's cousin,Jeanne

2003 Schedule:
Visit Iola Keaton Celebration web site
See also The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

FRI., Sept. 26, 2003
Beginning 10:00 a.m.

Registration (there are no fees)
Frank Scheide, Ph.D.:

"The Social Commentary of Buster Keaton"
C. Patrick Tyndall, Ph.D.:

"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen:Blacks in Minstrelsy"
L. Terry Brusstar, Ph.D.:
"From the Plantation to the Stage:The Cake Walk"

Panel discussion and Q&A
(on your own)

Bill Shaffer:
"The Magic Lantern Show
Fred Krebs:
"The Democracy of Buster Keaton"
Martha Jett:
"Ladies of the Marquee:Retrospective of Woman Vaudeville Entertainers"
Dan Kamin
"Jumping into Film:How Keaton Made the Esthetic Leap from Stage to Screen"

Stretch Break
Andrew Horton, Ph.D.:
"Buster Scratches His Head:Why the Ending of Sherlock Jr. Is One of the Greatest Comic Endings Ever"
Brief Q&A with scholars
A Visit to Vaudeville (live on-stage sketch)

SAT., Sept. 27, 2003
Beginning 8:30 a.m. 

Registration (there are no fees)
Welcome, Introductions & Remarks
David Macleod:
"Buster Keaton:The Unbearable Lightness of Being Funny!"

A Visit to Vaudeville (live on-stage sketch)
Ron Pesch:
"How I Spent My Vaudeville Summer Vacation"
Michael Hansen:
"Silence and Comedy:Why Keaton Matters More Today Than Ever"

Younger Generation Videos:
Buster and Jackie Chan by Cesar Romero
The Scapegoat by Darren Ng
Good Luck by Tom Santiago
Lunch (on your own)

A Visit to Vaudeville (live on-stage sketch)
Greg Black, Ph.D. :
" Buster in the Age of McCarthyism
Stanford P. Singer, Ph.D.:
"Buster Keaton and Television in the 1950s:The New Vaudeville"

Stretch Break
John Tibbetts, Ph.D.:

"Buster Keaton:Citizen of the Gobal Village"

A Visit to Vaudeville (live on-stage sketch)
Robert Arkus, Getty Images:
"Rare Keaton Video"
Wrap-up panel with humanities scholars and Q&A

Evening Movies

FRIDAY, 7:30 p.m.:

Backstage, w/ Arbuckle/Keaton
piano by Rodney Sauer
The Playhouse
, starring Buster Keaton


Sherlock, Jr.
, starring Buster Keaton
music by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

SATURDAY, 7:30 p.m.:

Special Theatrical Presentation:
St. George Mohawk Indian Medicine Show Players: Then Came the Storm


A Reckless Romeo
, starring Roscoe Arbuckle
piano by Rodney Sauer

Steamboat Bill, Jr.
, starring Buster Keaton
music by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra


  • C. Patrick Tyndall, PhD, theatre historian, University of Arkansas
  • L. Terry Brusstar, PhD, dance historian, University of Arkansas
  • Dan Kamin, physical comedian & movement artist, author of Charlie Chaplin's One Man Show
  • Andrew Horton, PhD, Jeanne H. Smith professor of film & video and director of film and video studies, University of Oklahoma
  • Ron Pesch, author of Buster Keaton and the Muskegon Connection
  • Michael Hansen, Salisburg State University
  • Stanford P. Singer, PhD, humanities speaker & film/theater scholar & author
  • Gregory Black, PhD, University of Missouri-Kansas City and expert on the McCarthy Era
  • Frank Scheide, PhD, film historian, department of communication, University of Arkansas
  • John Tibbetts, PhD, Associate Professor of Film, University of Kansas and author of The Encyclopedia of Novels into Film and His Majesty, The American:The Films of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (with James Welsh)
  • David Macleod, U.K., author of The Sound of Buster Keaton
  • Bill Shaffer, producer/director, KTWU public television
  • Martha Jett, documentary filmmaker and Keaton biographer
  • Fred Krebs, humanities scholar and instructor, Johnson Co. Community College

Special Guests:

  • Jeanne Keaton Holler, first cousin of Buster Keaton
  • Darren Ng, student filmmaker of Keaton homage, The Scapegoat

Keaton was born near Iola, KS at Piqua in 1895

Visit Iola's official Keaton Celebration site.
Visit the Buster Keaton Museum, Piqua, Kansas
Also, visit the site of the International Buster Keaton Society.

Funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, with help from the Iola Tourism Fund and private donors.
Sponsored by the Keaton Celebration Committee in cooperation with the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.

Photos & graphics ©2003 by Carol Yoho
Acme e-media
Acme Archives

Send comments about this site

Check the Kansas Silent Film Festival web site. This is a free event held each February in Topeka, KS


Carol Yoho with buttons Sunset over Best Western Motel, Iola

I attended my eleventh Keaton Celebration in 2004, wearing eleven years of the celebration buttons I've made, plus some "extras." Iola is a wonderful community, with wide Kansas sunsets and friendly people.

Join us in 2004.Carol





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