The Many Plaques of Buster Keaton Studios
The silent film master's legacy commemorated in all the right and wrong places.
Buster Keaton was a creative marvel whose vaudeville prowess, visual eye for the absurd, and death-defying stuntwork brought us a wealth of silent pictures that continue to amaze and entertain.
A populist comedian at heart, his ambition to create ever more outrageous gags led to a body of work that hovers somewhere between slapstick tomfoolery and surreal high art, influencing nearly every filmmaker who came after him.
As one of Hollywood’s earliest stars, Keaton’s presence helped transform Los Angeles from a rural outpost of the Old West into the Tinseltown we know it to be today. In 1988, a plaque was placed on the northwest corner of Lillian Way and Eleanor Avenue in Hollywood to commemorate the site of Buster Keaton Studios, where he filmed such classics as Sherlock Jr. and Our Hospitality — 19 shorts and 10 features, in all.
In perfectly Keatonesque fashion, the plaque was placed on the wrong corner.
In fact, Keaton’s actual studios were on the southwest corner, directly across the street. The old plaque had a few other problems. Poor materials had led to severe erosion over time. It also omitted the fact that silent film’s other most legendary comedian, Charlie Chaplin, had filmed 12 of his greatest shorts there as well.
In 2018, another set of plaques and a mural of the great Stoneface were installed on the correct corner.
For those familiar with his films, you’ll want to take a look around the neighborhood, as Keaton would film exterior shots in the area. You’re sure to see some of the older buildings in a number of his movies. But remember to pay homage at the corner of Lillian and Eleanor to see where all the magic happened. Then go across the street and do it again.
Know Before You Go
The map coordinates above point to the correct site of Buster Keaton's studios, at the southwest corner of Lillian Way and Eleanor Avenue in Hollywood. There are a commemorative plaque and mural at that site, plus another plaque explaining the mix-up. The original, erroneous plaque is across the street on the northwest corner.
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