A bronze plaque commemorating the location of a movie studio where both Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin created their timeless comedies in the early part of the 20th century will be dedicated at 4 p.m. June 16, 2018, at 1021 Lillian Ave., near the intersection of Eleanor Avenue and Lillian Way in Los Angeles. 30 years ago, a plaque was inadvertently placed on an incorrect corner, and now the International Buster Keaton society is remedying this (appropriately farcical) injustice. The city of Los Angeles will declare that day “Buster Keaton Day” in honor of the influential comedian and filmmaker.
The plaque dedication will be open to the public. Currently scheduled guests include Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, film historian Leonard Maltin (who was present at the installation of the original plaque), and members of Buster Keaton’s family, including his granddaughter, Melissa Talmadge Cox, and his great-granddaughter, actress Keaton Talmadge.
The original plaque was dedicated on July 6, 1988, on the corner of Eleanor and Way in Hollywood. In a moment of Keatonesque absurdity, it was placed across the street from the actual location of the studio, and overlooked the fact that Chaplin had also used that studio.
The funding of the new plaque, as well as a smaller plaque explaining the mix-up, came from $18,107 donated by contributors to an international Indiegogo campaign. The remaining costs were covered by the International Buster Keaton Society Inc., the nonprofit group sponsoring both the plaque and its dedication.
The dedication will be part of a full weekend of Buster Keaton events organized by the International Buster Keaton Society Inc. The events begin with a gala at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, and include screenings of Keaton films at the Egyptian Theatre, visits to Keaton and Talmadge gravesites (at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills and Hollywood Forever Cemetery respectively), plus tours of Keaton, Chaplin and Harold Lloyd filming locations to be conducted by John Bengtson, author of Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton. The weekend ends with “Shut Up!” An Afternoon of Keaton-Inspired Comedy at UCB Inner Sanctum.
Considered to be one the greatest comedians and filmmakers of all time, Buster Keaton made 19 silent short films and 10 silent features between 1920 and 1928, using this production studio for nearly all of them. Prior to Keaton’s tenure, Charlie Chaplin used the same studio between 1916 and 1917 to produce 12 of his greatest short films.
Keaton is considered not only one of America’s greatest comedians but one of the world’s greatest movie directors as well. Six of his films have been included in the National Film Registry, making him one of the most honored filmmakers on that prestigious list: One Week (1920), Cops (1922), Sherlock Jr. (1924), The General (1926), Steamboat Bill, Jr., and The Cameraman (both 1928). Time magazine proclaimed Sherlock Jr. one of its top 100 movies of all time.
Keaton and his films have placed on several of the American Film Institute’s lists. He is #21 on the AFI’s list of the 50 greatest American screen legends, and his 1926 masterpiece The General is #18 on the AFI’s “100 Years…100 Movies — 10th Anniversary Edition” and #18 again on its “100 Years… 100 Laughs” list, with Sherlock Jr. placing #62 and The Navigator #81 on that same list. Entertainment Weekly named Keaton #35 on its list of “100 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time.”
Sight & Sound magazine ranked The General as #34 on its 2012 list of the greatest films of all time, and as #75 on its list of the greatest directors of all time. Keaton and The General also made the 1972 and 1982 Sight & Sound top 10 lists, which are announced once every 10 years.
During his lifetime, Keaton was a recipient of the George Eastman Award in its year of inception (1955), and he received an Honorary Academy Award® in 1960 “for his unique talents which brought immortal comedies to the screen.” In addition, Keaton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his movies (6619 Hollywood Blvd.) and the other for his television work (6321 Hollywood Blvd.).
The International Buster Keaton Society Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was established in 1992 with the purpose of fostering understanding and perpetuating appreciation of the life, career and films of Buster Keaton. The group advocates for historical accuracy about Keaton’s life and work, encourages dissemination of information and research about Keaton, and endorses preservation and restoration of Keaton’s films and performances.