Blog Archive

08 December 2016

A Rare Sight -- Buster Keaton Knitting!

This is just a brief note to promote my "Stars Knitting" page of photos of just that. Filmmaking can be a very boring business; a lot of time is taken up with lighting, scene setting, continuity, and all sorts of other details, leaving the poor actors to wait and wait and wait between scenes. Yet they can't lose track of the character they're portraying or the emotional demands of the scene. So a quite technical pastime like knitting is perfect. and I'm not surprised to see so many top stars occupying their hurry-up-and-wait time this way.
One star, however, might come as quite a surprise to fans -- Buster Keaton.
Yes, Buster could knit.
I discovered this in a presentation by Buster's nephew, Harry Keaton, the son of Buster's brother Jingles, who spent a lot of time with Buster as a child and said that everybody in the immediate family could and did knit, male and female. In fact, he said they all did all kinds of needlework -- this would include Buster's mom, Myra, his sister, Louise, his brother, Harry or Jingles, and Harry's wife and son, who all shared a house for some time. This is probably for the same reasons as the movie stars knitted -- as a traveling vaudevillian you would have a lot of spare time, but you can't do anything too involving. With knitting, at least you end up with something useful. Buster was very precise and very mathematical, and so can knitting be (believe it or not). Harry said he was nine years old before he knew you could buy socks in a store -- he'd always had homemade ones!
Of course, this photo is from a movie, not offstage, like the others. But he could knit -- really.

Another unlikely knitting gentleman? Ringo Starr. When he was very sick as a child and hospitalized for months on end, it was one of the physical therapies the children were taught to do to keep them busy. Who knew?

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