Thank you for showing interest in the Buster Keaton Museum located in Piqua. Our museum was established to honor the life of silent film star Buster Keaton and to preserve the heritage of the town of Piqua.
Buster (Joseph Frank Keaton) was born in Piqua on October 4, 1895. His parents were Vaudeville Performers Frank and Myra Keaton who traveled with Harry Houdini, the great magician. While the troupe was performing in a tent show in Piqua, Mrs. Keaton gave birth to a son. When Buster was only 24 hours old, he made his first stage appearance with his parents. Little did they know then, that Buster would some day become one of the very first silent film actors and directors.
Keaton is now remembered for his wonderful silent films which have gained a great new popularity in the last few years. Such movies as "The Navigator", "Sherlock Jr.", and "The General" have brought a unique style of entertainment back into focus. Great stars of today such as Red Skeleton and Dick Van Dyke credit Buster as being their mentor. He perfected the art of making the great stage falls look natural.
Keaton always claimed Piqua as his birthplace, but returned only once in his lifetime. In 1957, after performing at the Kansas State Fair, Keaton and his wife, Eleanor found the town of Piqua quite by accident. Eleanor who was driving while Buster slept, noticed the Piqua Train Depot as they drove by on the highway. She braked so hard, that Buster thought she had hit a cow! The couple cruised through town, visited with a few residents and then traveled on their way.
The Buster Keaton Memorial Museum was started to preserve the heritage and traditions of Keaton and the town of Piqua. There is no admission charge, but free will donations are accepted. Items on display include town memorabilia and items on loan from St. Martin's Catholic Church. The Church in itself is a monument to the dedication of early day settlers in this area. Visitors are welcome to stop for a visit to the church. Movie stills from Buster Keaton's movie, "The General", and paintings of Buster donated by John Tibbetts hang on the walls of the museum. The museum also has some of Buster's movies that may be checked out to watch at home.
Buster Keaton's 100th birthday was in 1995. Many celebrations were held throughout the country honoring this Silent Film Star. Each year, Keaton celebrations are held in Piqua and Iola.
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