Since we already shined a light on her brother Jingles, some attention today for Buster Keaton’s other sibling Louise (1906-1981), like her famous brother an October baby. Over a decade younger than Buster, Louise was born in Maine, while the family was vacationing at a resort patronized by vaudeville performers. Her full name is Louise Dresser Keaton, after the famous vaudeville performer. Like Jingles, she was drafted into the family vaudeville act when still a baby — for a brief time there were five Keatons in the family knockabout routine.
When Buster made it big, he found jobs for his whole family when he could. You can see Louise in bit parts in his silent comedies Convict 13 (1920), The Goat (1921), The Electric House (1922), and The Camera Man (1928). On Steamboat Bill Jr (1928) she worked as script supervisor, as well as stand-in and stunt double for Marion Byron. She also worked frequently as a stand-in for Buster’s sister-in-law Norma Talmadge during the silent years.
Louise enjoyed more prominent roles while Buster was at Educational in the mid ’30s. She took after their mother Myra and inherited a real “hillbilly” personality. Her drawl worked well in rural comedies in talkies. She’s in Buster’s shorts Palooka from Paducah (1935) and Love Nest on Wheels (1937). But she also got to work with other stars. She’s in Trimmed in Furs (1934) with vaudeville comedian John Sheehan; Way Up Thar (1935) with Joan Davis; The Brain Busters (1936) with Billy Gilbert, Vince Barnet, and James C. Morton; and in the mystery feature I’ll Name the Murderer (1936) with Ralph Forbes. Her last screen role was in the 1940 movie of Li’l Abner.
To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.
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