18th Annual
Buster Keaton and the Tragic ClownsKEATON CELEBRATION

Buster Keaton, The Tragic Clowns &
America's Comic Melting Pot

Sept. 24 & 25, 2010
Bowlus Fine Arts Center

205 E. Madison, Iola, KS •

Silent motion pictures and shorts throughout the celebration

Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Featuring live musical accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
All activities are free and open to the public     

Presenters | Staff & Lobby Activity | Candids | Jane's Photos

The Tragic Clowns
Comments by Bill Shaffer, Keaton Committee
There are several reasons why some of these funny actors were tragic...
Welcome, 18th Annual Buster Keaton Celebration, Frank Scheide    Charley Chase never had a feature film career even though almost all of his short films are hysterically funny! He did try features, but was never able to get anything consistent going.
    Raymond Griffith had no voice and didn't last past a bit part as a dying soldier in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT before his film career was over. He was a great example of a silent star killed by the coming of sound.
    Harry Langdon developed the problem of a big ego and wanted to be another Chaplin or Keaton by writing, producing and directing all of his own films. He wore those hats for many of his films from the late 1920's into the sound era and nobody liked them very much. The irony in all of this is that the writer/ director who really got Langdon started was Frank Capra. When Langdon dismissed him,
Capra went on to have a great, long career in films. In spite of some ill feelings, in later years Capra referred to Langdon as a 'poor, little man' who couldn't handle stardom and destroyed his own career.
    There will be a few other comedians and we'll be showing bits from their films. Among them are Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle whose career was ruined by a scandal, unfairly hanging over his reputation to this day. Lloyd Hamilton,
another rotund comic, simply got cheated out of his film career by vindictive managers. Max Davidson had a spectacular career in short films, but they never branched out into feature films or much else because they were always pegged as 'Jewish' or ethnic comedies. He had a career in bit parts through the 1930's and 1940's, but died virtually unknown in 1950. Syd Chaplin (Charlie's older half-brother) had a good comedy career going in shorts and features until a scandal shut him out and he became Charlie's manager. Karl Dane was a popular character actor in many films, but he had a tragically short life. He worked with John Gilbert (in BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT and THE BIG PARADE), Rudolph Valentino (in SON OF THE SHIEK) and Buster Keaton (in MGM's talkie, FREE & EASY).
    Finally, Mabel Normand (a great comic actress) died before the silent era ended. She was another victim of drugs and alcohol.
     The sub theme of America's Comic Melting Pot refers to the number of comedians (like Karl Dane and Max Davidson) who emigrated to the U.S. to enjoy long or short show business careers. Many of these comics got their starts in Vaudeville and other entertainment venues before slipping into films in New York or California.

—Choose a thumbnail to see the larger photo—
2010, 18th Annual Celebration, Speakers:
Frank Scheide spoke about silent comedy reflecting America's Melting Pot Charles Wolfe spoke about California slapstick Lisa Stein spoke about Syd Chaplin
Denise Morrison spoke about Harry Langdon Hooman Mehran spoke about Raymond Griffith Yair Solan, student presenter, spoke about Charley Chase
Martha Jett spoke about Karl Dane Joanna Rapf spoke about Roscoe Arbuckle, wife Minta and Mabel Normand David Macleod spoke about turning tragedy into comedy
Staff and Lobby Activity
Faithful Iola volunteers chat in the Bowlus lobby sale of DVDs
display case Frank and his daughters Grace Ann's new shoes red t-shirts SOLD OUT
Candids, Fans
Yair and Rodney Amy and friend David and Grace Ann, here from London
Steve, from NY City, and Jane, from Kansas City area Steve, again climbing charis Frank, daughters, Amy, Hooman
Shaffers and friend John Lisa and Cookie (oh, yes...and books) Keith
John and Suzanna Hooman 2 Bill and Keith
Bill and grandson, Elliot
Jane's Photos —shared by Jane Bartholomew, Keaton Celebration Committee Member
entrance, Bowllus Art Center, Iola, KS
Martha Jett and Buster cut-outs hint of a rainbow over Iola, KS
Bill, Martha, David 3 Buster t-shirts, Bill, Grace Ann and David 3 Buster t-shirts, Grace Ann gets smooches Bill and his brother,Judd
Grace Ann, Jane, Denise, Martha Cookie and Steve Lisa and friend
No faces on Facebook
Just to prove we can all live without Facebook for long enough for an evening of viewing silent films, this audience did without faces for a photo by Lisa Tatge, in Kansas from California for the Keaton Celebration!
Frank Scheide Bill Shaffer Charles Wolfe Lisa Stein Denise Morrison Hooman Mehran Yair Solan Martha Jett Jonanna Rapf David Macleod Denise Morrison, reprise

Celebration Web Archives:

blankKeaton was born near Iola, KS at Piqua in 1895
Visit Iola's official Keaton Celebration site.
Visit the Buster Keaton Museum, Piqua, Kansas
Visit International Buster Keaton Society.

This event is funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization encouraging the appreciation of history, heritage and values; the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Iola Convention & Tourism Committee; the Daniels Bequest and private donors. Sponsored by the Keaton Celebration Committee in cooperation with the Bowlus Fine Arts & Cultural Center.

Also check the Kansas Silent Film Festival web site. KSFF is held each February in Topeka, KS.

Dr. Douglas C. Moore
Keaton Celebration honors
long-time supporter

Doug Moore
, Belton, MO,
who passed away
Sat.,July 10, 2010.
Read obituary.
Rest in peace, Doug.

Page by Carol Yoho
Acme e-media
See Acme Archives
Send comments

Keaton photos collage ©2010 by Carol Yoho
Ehotos collage ©2010 by Carol Yoho, unless otherwise credited

2010 Schedule:
The Iola web site

FRI., Sept. 24, 2010

A.M.: 9:00
Registration opens at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center Auditorium Lobby (no fees)
Welcome and Remarks by Mary Martin and Frank Scheide, Co-Chairs, Iola Keaton Celebration
"Gaining Ethnic Appreciation through Laughter: An Ironic Legacy of American's Comic Melting Pot," by Frank Scheide
Q & A
"Max Davidson: Hollywood's Forgotten Jew," by Bill Shaffer
Q & A
Film: Pass the Gravy, w/ Max Davidson (1928) 23 min.
Lunch Break
P.M.: 1:00
Welcome by emcee Hooman Mehran
“California Slapstick,” by Charles Wolfe, Ph.D.
Q & A
“Sex, Lies and Nitrate: The Aborted Film Career of Sydney Chaplin” by Lisa K. Stein, Ph.D.
Q & A
Film: Gussle's Wayward Path, w/ Syd Chaplin (1912) 12 min.
"One of Hollywood's Most Misunderstood Silent Film Clowns: Harry Landon," by Denise Morrison
Q & A
Film: A Hard Act to Follow, Part 2, a Keaton documentary by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill 60 min.
Dinner Break
Fri. evening screenings:
My Wife's Relations, w/ Buster Keaton (1922) 22 min.
Out West (1918) w/ Arbuckle/Keaton/St. John (1918) 25 min.
TBA: A Buster Keaton Educational Short 20 min. Intermission
  Paths to Paradise, w/ Raymond Griffith (1925) 64 min.

Evening films shown with live music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

SAT., Sept. 25, 2010

A.M.: 8:30
Registration opens at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center Auditorium Lobby (no fees)
Welcome by Bill Maness, Mayor of the City of Iola, and Frank Scheide, emcee and Iola Keaton Celebration Co-chair
“Raymond Griffith's Legacy,” by Hooman Mehran
Q & A
“Charley Chase: Renaissance Man of Film Comedy,” by Yair Solan, Student Presenter
Q & A
One-Reel short comedy w/ Charley Chase
"The Great Dane: The Life and Career of Karl Dane" by Martha Jett
Q & A
P.M.: Noon
Lunch Break
Welcome by Lisa Stein, emcee
“A Satyr in the Soft Shirt: The Early Sad Comedies of Roscoe Arbuckle,” by Joanna Rapf, Ph.D.
Q & A
Film: Saturday Afternoon, w/ Harry Langdon 30 min.
"Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: Turning Tragedy into Comedy," w/ David Macleod
Q & A
Film Premiere: The Modern Bluebeard, w/ Buster Keaton Sound film in Spanish with English subtitles, 90 min.
Screening of Doughboys (1933 sound feature) with Buster Keaton
Dinner Break
Sat. evening screenings:
Limousine Love w/ Charley Chase, 20 min.
Nobody's Business w/ Lloyd Hamilton, 25 min.
A Dash Through the Clouds w/ Mabel Normand, 12 min.
  The Cameraman w/ Buster Keaton, 75 min.

Evening films shown with live music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Guests and schedule are subject to change if circumstances warrant. See the Iola Keaton Celebration web site for updates.

Speakers & Guests:
  • Denise Morrison, Director of Collections & Curatorial Services, Union Station/KC Museum
  • Joanna Rapf, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
  • Charles Wolfe, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Lisa Stein, Ph.D., Ohio University-Zanesville
  • David Macleod, Keaton historian and co-founder of the Blinking Buzzards Buster Keaton Appreciation Society in the United Kingdom, now with a page on Facebook.
  • Yair Solan, doctoral student, City University of New York

    Returning this year:
  • Martha Jett, Hooman Mehran, Frank Scheide, Bill Shaffer and other Keaton Friends
Kansas Humanities CouncilNational Endowment for the ArtsKansas Arts Commission

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