Part 5: A Happy & Contented Man

Buster with Elmer III

Off screen, Keaton laughed and smiled often, although he had an uncanny knack for knowing when a camera was pointed at him, at which time he would put on the mask of his Great Stone Face persona.

Eleanor & Buster

After meeting MGM contract dancer Eleanor Norris in 1938, he married the much-younger woman (she was 21; he was 44) in 1940. Their marriage was a happy one that lasted 26 years until his death from lung cancer in 1966 at the age of 70.

At the Berlin Film Festival

Beginning with James Agee's cover story for Life magazine in 1949, Keaton was rediscovered by critics and audiences. He won rave notices for many of his appearances, and actually made as much money in the last 10 years of his life as he had during his silent-screen heyday.

Keaton himself certainly didn’t see his life as a tragedy—despite what others have since written—and at the end of his life, rediscovered and world-renowned, he summed up:

“I think I have had the happiest and luckiest of lives. Maybe this is because I never expected as much as I got . . . And when the knocks came I felt it was no surprise. I had always known life was like that, full of uppercuts for the deserving and the undeserving alike.”