9 thoughts on “Something I Noticed About Keaton Discussions

  1. People hate on Natalie so much, but the truth is, we know so little about what went down between her and Buster. Also, who cares? Buster led such an interesting and rich life, why focus on a marriage that went sour when there’s so much more?

  2. There were 3 Talmadge sisters and Peg, their indomitable mother, who was frequently photographed with Norma and Constance, photos that only occasionally included Natalie. Norma and Constance were top stars in the silent era. Natalie was not. Instead, she did secretarial chores for her sisters – such as read their fan letters and mail out requested photos – while Norma and Constance made movies and got rich and famous. Natalie’s claim to stardust is that she was married to a star. Speaking of their marriage, in a photo of the wedding party at Norma’s Long Island estate in 1921, Norma and Constance are smiling – BIG smiles – and Nat and Buster look forlornly glum. Wasn’t this the happiest day in the lives of the bride and groom? Makes one wonder. And makes one kind of NOT surprised that a decade and 2 children later there was a spectacularly bitter divorce. One for the Guiness Book of World Records. In that singular achievement, Natalie upstaged her sisters, who also married and divorced, not just once, but a number of times. However, they dumped their husbands quietly. Civilly. Discreetly. Definitely not like a raging unhinged Medea wreaking revenge on her unfaithful Jason. Later, Buster, after years of thinking about life and its vicissitudes, about forks in the road, about paths not taken, Buster said the biggest mistake he made in his life was surrendering independent production at the end of the 20s and signing a contract with MGM. But was that his BIGGEST mistake? Or was it his SECOND biggest mistake?

    • That’s a very interesting take on their divorce– that Natalie really upstaged their sisters. I’ve started wondering if Peg was really behind a lot of their relationship drama early on… would explain a few things.

      Anyway, about Buster’s filmmaking skills… 😉

      • The subject of Natalie comes up so often in discussions – 76% according to your hilarious chart – because she was a major contributor to Buster’s downfall. She loved the money he earned and spent it as fast as it hit his bank account. She was likely an instrumental influence in Buster’s decision to accept the MGM contract that his brother-in-law, Schenck, told him was a great business move. And as a business move it was the right move because Buster didn’t have the money to be an independent producer. Like Chaplin, Buster was an artist and money was not the reason he made movies. To Buster, money was just a commodity that paid the bills so he could make the movies he wanted to make. To MGM, the only reason they and the other studios made movies was to make money. To Natalie, still trying to keep up with or even outdo her sisters (that grandiose estate!), she had the same mindset as MGM and was, as always, spending his money as if the goose would lay golden eggs forever.

        Anyway, about Buster’s filmmaking skills… they were incomparable. He produced silent films that are recognized as masterpieces, as great today as they were in the 20s. And the fact that he produced MORE superb feature films in the silent era than did Chaplin is in itself a huge achievement.

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