The International Buster Keaton Society
We love Buster Keaton. Founded in 1992, the goals of the Society (a 501c3, non-profit organization) are to foster and perpetuate appreciation an understanding of the life, career and films of Buster Keaton, to advocate for historical accuracy about Keaton's life and work, to encourage dissemination of information about Keaton, and to endorse preservation and restoration of Keaton's films and performances. In our early days, we were proud to be supported by Eleanor Keaton, Buster’s widow, who attended several of our events. Today, we are thrilled to have Melissa Talmadge Cox, Buster’s grand-daughter, on our board, and Keaton Talmadge, his great-grand-daughter as an active member. We are an entirely volunteer-operated group, we love what we do, and are honored to help maintain Buster’s legacy. We hope that you will use the resources of this website, our social media presence, and the Society in general to learn more about the art of Buster Keaton. We also look forward to seeing how Keaton inspires you in your own life and work. We also hope that you’ll support us by becoming a member, which gives you access to the amazing Keaton Chronicle and store discounts. And your exclusive membership pin will make you the (silent) talk of the town.
An entirely volunteer-run organization.
Melissa Talmadge Cox
Board Member Melissa Talmadge Cox is a California native who graduated from Santa Monica High School and the University of California at Davis. She has lived for the last 38 years in a 116-year-old house in a small town in Northern California, where she has worked as a California Certified Nurserywoman, a landscape designer, a puppy-raiser for services dogs (44 of them), and a watercolor teacher and artist. She is married with three grown children and has been on countless committees in civic and school affairs. Roping her into being on the board of the Damfinos wasn’t very hard since she’s been a tremendous admirer of Buster Keaton since early childhood. She has the good fortune to be his granddaughter and spent her youth visiting Grandpa Buster and Eleanor in Southern California. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Damfinos and is an honorary member of the Keaton Celebration committee in Iola, Kansas.
Todd Durham is a comedy writer, best known as the creator of the animated movie franchise ;HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA for Columbia Pictures which he based on his book of the same name. Since early childhood, he has worshiped and studied the brilliance of Buster Keaton, and today is a devoted supporter of silent film preservation.
Board Member/Vice President London-based Scot, David, is inordinately proud of the fact that he’s attended every Muskegon Convention and presented at every one as well. A long-time Secretary of the Society, he has now been ‘elevated’ to the Board. He’s also author of two Keaton books, ‘The Sound Of Buster Keaton’ and ‘Looking Back: Buster Keaton’s 1951 Music Hall Tour’, and edited a third, ‘The Buster Bulletin Big Bumper Booklet’. He also met his wife, Graceann at the 1997 Convention (we’ve just celebrated our 13th anniversary), so Buster’s been rather important in his life.
Board Member/Director of Social Media
Ruth E Sharman is an artist, artisan, writer and one-time performer (literally one time - ironically her first stand-up appearance was laughably bad). Whilst writing an as yet unpublished (and unfinished) novel on the subject of the supernatural, a silent movie ghost character insinuated itself on the plot. Looking rather like a chap she’d seen before, Ruth began to research one Buster Keaton and fell down the rabbit hole! In her role as Director of Social Media she posts daily content across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit and TikTok as well as developing and maintaining busterkeaton.org #ThisKeepsHerVeryBusy #ButSheLovesMakingUpNewHashtags #KeepItKeaton
President Thanks to her Fisher Price Movie Theatre with it's hand crank, a determined curiosity, and with Laurel and Hardy as her gateway drug, Eryn Merwart has been a lover of silent film history since the age of 5. Besides being an avid researcher of the American film industry, Eryn spent 23 years as owner and head designer at Take to the Sky Jewelry. She has also co-chaired more than 5 of the Keaton Society's annual conventions and has happily volunteered for over 20 years. She will forever maintain that Canadian chocolate is way better. She is also extremely grateful for her role in the Society and looks forward to connecting Keaton fans and sharing the laughter of Buster's work.
Beth Pederson first encountered Buster Keaton at a live organ theater performance in 2004. She has a BS in accounting, but went on to more entertaining pursuits, such as managing a board game store and later, starting Buster Stuff. She has been a member of the Keaton Society for twelve years, and lives in Layton, Utah with the love of her life and husband of 37 years, Mark; and their three large Poodles. She has two grown and married children, but alas, no sign of grandchildren yet. Her obsessions outside of Buster are managing the Salt Lake City shipping hub for Netflix DVD, camping in her pop-up trailer and building with Legos.
Secretary Molly Race first encountered Buster Keaton when her dad showed her a funny train movie in elementary school. After wearing her library’s VHS threadbare, she became obsessed with silent film comedy as a whole, earned a history degree, and attended her first convention on a whim in 2015. She reunites with the DamFam whenever she can. Since she’s been teaching ESL in South Korea for five years now, it happens less often than she likes, but she loves to contribute by dusting off her degree for the occasional article or review. In her free time, she grows plants, bakes, reads biographies, studies languages, dabbles in critical theory, and strongarms students, friends, and family members into watching the classics.
Merchandise Valerie was born in Arizona and loved growing up in an area so rich with history of the old west. She now lives in central Texas where it isn't anything like Arizona but rich in its own history. After discovering Buster, like so many of the friends she has made since, she fell in love with his films and life story. She began researching his vaudeville years and with a small group of newly found friends, and started a chronology of all of the performances of the Keatons starting with Myra when she was with her dad Frank Cutler in his show. Valerie has also helped with the research for his family tree. She has a particular fondness for Go West because it takes her back home... and who doesn't love Friendless? Valerie helps plan the annual convention and runs the Damfino merchandise site.
Susie was born into a family of artists, writers and actors. Her Great Uncle was the legendary screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr. Another, Bill Lardner (known as Brush), painted movie sets and her mother was secretary to Adolph Menjou’s son. She studied theater, music and dance and acted in a few local commercials while growing up in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles. This environment fostered her love of all things Old Hollywood. Though familiar with Buster Keaton and his films, it wasn’t until the Covid years that Susie “discovered” and “fell in love” with Buster. She’s been a huge fan ever since.
Today she lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband of 27 years. In addition to her passion for Old Hollywood, Susie loves all things music related. She and her husband co-host a series of shows called “Live! from Susie’s Basement”. Over the last 10 years, they’ve presented national as well as local artists in their home including 5 different SOFAR shows. Susie enjoys many other hobbies, including writing and photography.
She is thrilled to be an active part of the International Buster Keaton Society and looks forward to her role as membership volunteer.
Art Director, Keaton Chronicle Kristin Nalesnik is an artist and designer from a small town in Pennsylvania. She discovered Buster Keaton in college (well, actually in Sherlock, Jr.) and has been an ardent admirer ever since. She works across a variety of artistic mediums, including embroidery, textiles, and paint. Her art often draws inspiration from classic cinema, and of course Buster himself! Working on The Keaton Chronicle has been the perfect way to combine her interest in a certain stone-faced silent film star with her graphic design experience. She is grateful for the role Buster has played in her life, has met some dear friends through the Keaton community, and is glad to have a small hand in preserving his legacy.