A Letter from Buster Keaton’s Granddaughter:


When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s we were very excited to get a television set and occasionally I saw my grandfather on Candid Camera or What’s My Line? I knew he was a famous star from the silent film era but I was twelve and didn’t know what silent films were.  I just knew we went over to Grandpa Buster’s on the weekends for a BBQ and swim and I’d be allowed to collect the eggs from the chicken house.  I had three brothers and we played cards with Grandpa, grabbed fresh corn from the neighboring field for Eleanor for dinner and took turns sliding down the second story of the barn on ropes.  When we were older he would come over and throw out the first pitch at our Little League games and we would still be going over to Grandpa’s for Sunday dinner.

When I was in my early twenties some of the silent films were being restored and my mother gave a copy of The Blacksmith to me along with a super eight millimeter projector.  This was the first time I had ever seen a silent film and it was with my grandpa Buster as a young man.  I watched it over and over again with a new appreciation for my heritage.  Within a few years I attended one of the first Silent Film Festivals in Berkeley Ca which featured Grandpa in Steamboat Bill Junior.  I came out of the theatre absolutely stunned that this wonderfully talented actor and director was the grandfather I had known for so many years.  It was a revelation. I am so pleased that Silent Film Festivals are gaining in popularity and more people are learning about these timeless classics.  I travel to as many events as possible to promote my grandfather’s name and spread the word.

Grandpa Buster made people laugh in Vaudeville in the early 1900s with his family’s comedy act.  In the 20s and 30s he made people laugh with his movies.  In the late 40s and 50s he traveled in Europe and the US doing comedy and guest star routines and made people laugh.  He had audiences laughing in the 60s with television and movies productions.  A year before he died in 1966 he made a delightful film in Canada which had everyone who saw it laughing.  From the 1970s until today the priceless treasures of the silent film era are being restored and shown around the world and still, audiences are laughing.  My grandfather had a 67 year career that ended 45 year ago and he is still bringing laughter into the lives of people of all ages and nationalities and I cannot think of a more wonderful legacy to leave the world.

Melissa Cox


2 Responses to “A Letter from Buster Keaton’s Granddaughter:”

  1. Hello Melissa!
    It was so wonderful to read your memories of growing up, and all about your Grandfather and the silent films.
    I grew up in Berkeley in a really fun, musical family, and remember well getting our first tv, and Candid Camera….What’s My Line….
    and we loved the silent films – and viewed them often due to the interests of my well known pianst brother Peter Mintun……and the Silent Films Festival at UC BERKELEY? My brother was the pianist accompanying the films…..and he did it all by ear……………which he did masterfully………..do you remember?…and Buster Keaton – well – he was amazing as you know!
    You brought up so many memories – and of the Silent Film Festival….and to top it off – you’re in Cloverdale…..I’m in Santa Rosa.
    I’d love to get together to reminisce about those special years sometime (gee – do I sound like an old person now?!!)! Currently I’m in business in the wine country…..www.videolady.net Again, so wonderful to read your post!

  2. Watching a him on TCM right now !!!!

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