Keaton, "The Great Stone Face."
one summer morning in 2001, Peter Scolari couldn’t
find “Go West” anywhere.
A Muskegon journalist just happened to have a copy
of the 1925 Buster Keaton comedy, having purchased a
videotape copy at the Muskegon Mercantile store at
the corner of Fourth Street and West Western Avenue.
That affernoon he forked it over during lunch at the
City Cafe restaurant.
Six years earlier, in 1995, an unlikely trio posed
with the life-sized statue of Keaton standing his
place in history at the Muskegon County Museum.
Two of them were Adrian Booth Brian, Keaton’s “Go
West” costar; and Eleanor Keaton, the great comic
actor’s third wife and widow. Keaton died in 1966.
Anyone want to take a wild guess who rounded out the
Buster Keaton’s connection to Muskegon will be
rekindled Oct. 2-3, when the 15th annual fall
gathering of his fan club -- Damfinos: International
Buster Keaton Society -- convenes.
weekend’s public highlight will be Saturday’s 8 p.m.
screening of Keaton’s 1926 classic, “The General,”
in the ornate expanse of the downtown Frauenthal
Theater. The West End Jazz Band will warm up the
audience. Chicago organist Dennis Scott will
accompany the silent movie on the Frauenthal’s
famous Barton Theater Organ.
Keaton’s local link is well documented, exhumed and
resurrected here each October.Known as "The Great
Stone Face" for his expressionless expression,
Keaton was a member of the local Elks Lodge. A
prized archival photo shows him lounging with an
Elks honcho, Keaton’s feet tucked up on the cushion
of an Art Deco easy chair.
A historical plaque on Lakeshore Drive near Lake
Michigan commemorates The Actor’s Colony conclave
that Keaton’s father helped establishe in the
Bluffton neighborhood during the early 1900s.
In front of Latitudes Market, a store located where
Lakeshore Drive forks west to Beach Street and
continues north as Edgewater Street, a painted sign
sporting a painting of Keaton in his trademark
porkpie hat welcomes “Enjoy Buffton.”
People get into Buster Keaton for all kinds of
Once they’re hooked on the little genuis who was a
contemporary and equal of Charlie Chaplin and Harold
Lloyd, that’s that.
Scolari, eight years ago was in town to star in
Cherry County Playhouse’s production of “A Chorus
Line.” He hoped “Go West” would help him create --
and star -- in a television movie about the
silent-film star, who loved our corner of paradise
like nowhere else.
In 1995, Adrian Booth Brian,
Eleanor Keaton, and - Who Else! - posed with the
Buster Keaton’s life-sized statue in Muskegon.
Best known for starring with Tom Hanks in the 1980
television sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” Scolari was back
two years later.
to star in the title role of Cherry County’s
“Barnum,” a stage musical that was being filmed for
national TV, Scolari sighed that nothing had yet
come of his personal Keaton caper.
Eleanor Keaton had been here long before. When she
and her husband were en route to Chicago, they’d
detour north, back to Bluffton, for beer and perch
on the front steps of Pascoe’s Place tavern that no
longer exists, as don’t Muskegon Mercantile, City
Cafe and Cherry County Playhouse.
Muskegon was new to Adrian Booth Brian.
She’d been summoned here by A.J. “Al,” Flogge, the
North Muskegon resident who seems to know every
show-business celebrity in history. Flogge had
served in the U.S. Army with a rock ‘n’ roller who
gotten drafted, fella named Elvis Presley.
Flogge, who now spends most of his year in Palm
Springs, Calif., continues to stay in close touch
with Brian. Buster Keaton is never far from their