Buster Keaton fans, scholars and others curious about the comedic genius of the silent film era will gather October 4-6 in Muskegon for the 25th annual convention of The International Buster Keaton Society. The program, which coincides with Keaton’s October 4th birthday, includes presentations, discussions and a screening of his movies; this year’s double feature at the historic Frauenthal Theater is “One Week” and “The Cameraman.” A sculpture of “The Great Stone Face” with a movie camera that stands outside of the theater recognizes the Hollywood actor-director’s connection to the West Michigan community.
Keaton started performing with his comic actor father Joe and saxophone-playing mother Myra as a young child. In the early 1900s his father invested in property on the shores of Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, and developed the Actors’ Colony at Bluffton. From 1908 to 1938 it was a summer resort for fellow entertainers—some 200 of them—who escaped from the road when it was too hot to perform in theaters. Years later Keaton wrote, “The best summers of my life were spent in the cottage Pop had built on Lake Muskegon in 1908.”
Local historian Ron Pesch’s walking tour of Bluffton is a popular convention event, and the brochure is available at actorscolony.com for self-guided exploration any time of year.
This article originally appeared in the 2019 fall/winter issue of Experience Michigan magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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