As so many people around the world mourn the loss of David Bowie, I discovered something about him I never knew--he was really into Buster Keaton. Is this surprising? No. For one, Bowie's talents and inspirations were many and varied. Second, David Bowie was one REALLY damn cool guy.
I'm a Bowie fan and have been since the 80s. I'm not as huge a fan as my husband, some of our friends and a large number of people whose posts I've seen on Facebook and Twitter. When I think of him, Ziggy Stardust comes to mind, but I don't connect with that much. My David Bowie was the skinny time and suit version. The "Let's Dance" version. When I hear him in my head, I hear "Modern Love" (LOVE that one), "Blue Jean," "China Girl," the duet with Bing Crosby on "The Little Drummer Boy" and even the duet with Mick Jagger on "Dancin' in the Streets." I also dig "Changes," "Golden Years," "Heroes," "Space Oddity" and "Fame" and the like.
I was a teen in the 80s, and I lived off MTV. To me, David Bowie was one of the coolest dudes on the planet. He was beyond hip in an ethereal way I couldn't quite understand. To be honest, I still don't. He'd pop up in movies and reinforce his strangeness--his oddity. My friend, Tim, thinks he was an alien life-form that got called back to his home planet. He may be right.
When I'd heard the news yesterday morning that he'd died, I was stunned but didn't process it right away. I had to step back and consider his musical life as a whole (or as much of that whole that I knew about) as well as his contributions as an entertainer on a wider scale. It was massive. It's still more than I can wrap my brain around. Hell, his "Labyrinth" performance alone was creepy, enticing and just plain weird to this mainstream-thinking gal. And, of course, I loved it. And was a bit scared. But that's okay.
While looking for an image I wanted to include in a Twitter post about him yesterday, I came across the photo I've included here. Bowie looking a lot like Buster Keaton. Can his coolness get any colder? (The answer is yes.)
I just read a blog tonight that talks about his interest in Buster Keaton. You should definitely read Robert Curry's blog post about it. Coincidentally, I had also watched a Keaton short called "The Neighbors" from 1920. His slapstick with a dead-pan expression is wonderful. And I do love a guy in make-up.
If you're interested in watching "The Neighbors," it's on YouTube.
Photography by Steve Schapiro on PDN Photo of the Day.
I'm the author of a number of cemetery books and am now writing one about the graves of silent film stars, starting with the ladies. Who would you like to see included?
More Silent Film Resources
• Silentology blog