Keaton, interviewed in 1964 at the Movieland Wax
by Henry Gris
"In those days,almost every comedian you
saw affected a derby hat. Even Harold Lloyd, when he
was playing his Lonesome Luke character in 1917, wore
a derby - which he later deserted for his signature
straw hat and horn-rimmed glasses. So I decided to
get a hat that was my very own. I knew straw was too
fragile for my kind of antics, so I chose felt and
designed this particular porkpie."
fine for vaudeville song-and-dance
(seen here in 1916); but not the movies.
"I took a good Stetson and
cut it down, then I stiffened the brim with sugar
Surrounded by water in
"The Balloonatic", 1922.
"My recipe calls for three
heaping teaspoons of granulated sugar in a teacup of warm
the sugar in
"My Wife's Relations", 1922.
"You wet the top and bottom of
the brim, and then smooth it out on a clean, hard surface
and let it dry to a good stiffness."
earliest ones myself, always - and then I trained my
wife. Now she does them for me."
A family of hats in
"The Boat", all made by Buster, 1921.
"In the old days, the
Stetsons cost me $3.50 each- I pay $12.50 for the
same one now. It gets to be expensive - as I've used
up thousands of them through the years.
"In the first place, I used
to do more water stuff - stunts where I got dumped
into water - than most comedians. And felt
disintegrates if you get it wet enough! So the
mortality was high. I was lucky if I only used half a
dozen in each picture. Then people want them for
souvenirs - they snatch them off my head, so I have
to have extras on hand. Then, when I started making
feature pictures, they showed them at the biggest
city theaters, and always had all the usherettes
wearing my porkpie hats - somehow I never had one
returned to me!"
At any rate, thanks to
Buster Keaton himself, his waxen reproduction at
Movieland now wears a genuine Buster Keaton porkpie.
note: Eleanor Keaton tells us that when she made Buster's porkpie
hats, she used gray fedoras.
the Damfinos and see the world.