Buster Keaton. Movie Classics 1932. Kidnap of his sons story
Movie Classic
June 1932
 
Wife Forgives Buster Keaton 
After he "Kidnaps" Two Sons 
By Janet Burden
 
Natalie Talmadge Keaton has police stop comedian, after he takes youngsters on forbidden plane trip - Buster kids away seperation, but claims he is still boss.
 Buster kidded divorce rumours by having pictures taken of himself and his two boys, Joseph, 9 and Robert, 8, forlornly "waiting for Mama to come home" (right). And Natalie Talmadge Keaton (with comedian, below) soon forgave him for taking the youngsters on 'plane ride. 
 

 


Hollywood husbands are regarding Buster Keaton with silent wonder and admiration these days. First, because "to prove who wears the pants around the house," as Buster puts it, he actually dared to "kidnap" his own children and take them for an airplane ride to Mexico, after the missus had said they shouldn't go; and second, because of the masterly way in which Buster handled the recent situation. 

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Natalie Talmadge Keaton, the wife and mother, rushed to the District Attorney to ask him to have the actor detained at San Diego, where he would have to pause for customs inspection. Newspaper reporters were panting to write a divorce story about the Keatons. Women's clubs were wondering if they would have to turn thumbs' down on future Keaton pictures. Everything was at stake. A false move might have meant the loss not only of wife, but of a career as a wooden-faced comedian in the movies.

Even an experienced publicity man might well have trembled at "breaking the story" right. But no publicity man could have done the job better than Buster, himself. Amazed at the excitement and hubbub his impulsive airplane trip had stirred up, surrounded with police and reporters "and the army and navy," according to Buster, he did the one thing that saved the situation.

He kidded it. A woman may be very angry, but she isn't going to stay angry when she finds people laughing about it. The newspapers carried photographs of Buster and the boys (Joseph, 9 and Robert, 8) gloomily "waiting for Mama to come home." They carried funny interviews with Buster, telling of his rehearsing the youngsters in their lines when Natalie returned. Mention of the "whale oil lamp trimmed and burning in the window to light Mama home" set a continent to chuckling.

And it probably is. After all marriage that has weathered the storms of fifteen years - even such a severe hurricane as the Kathleen Key fracas in Buster's dressing-room in February, 1930, in which he claimed he was "womanhandled" - can weather many more.

 

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