A rare kinescope of an early television talk show was posted recently. The reason a friend sent me the link, I’m quite sure, is that this 15-minute program manages cover two very important things for me: silent film accompaniment and Buster Keaton.
The year was 1950, and Buster appears on an episode of The Faye Emerson Show (CBS), one of many programs from the early days of television that were just 15 minutes long. Faye Emerson had a movie career in the 1940s and hosted several shows on television in its nascent years. Her wikipedia entry is here.
Faye has two guests on the episode: Curly Green, a silent film accompanist, and Buster Keaton. Emerson interviews Green about accompanying silents, and then does a simple routine with Buster – which Green accompanies. In his segment, Green talks only briefly about his work, and mentions about having started during the 19-‘aughts, in the nickelodeon era. First I’ve ever heard of this accompanist.
What’s interesting to me is the first of the gags in Buster’s routine. Mainly, because of what malfunctions in it. This little fail, which happens a few times, reveals how the illusion Buster is trying to create is staged.
The kinescope was posted on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Kaltura Mediaspace, and I’ve embedded it here using code listed on the page, in order to share this and hopefully make it easier to find.
P.S. – in November 2023, Ranjit Sandhu did some serious research online and found a great deal of info about “Curly” Green. It turns out his full name is Arthur Naphtali Green (1888-1957), and he had a career in the 1910s as the composer of tangos for Vernon and Irene Castle, and other popular songs. You can read Ranjit’s extensive and detailed blog post about Arthur N. Green here.