Edward McPherson traces Buster Keaton's career from his early days in vaudeville--where as a rambunctious five-year-old his father threw him around the stage--to his becoming one of the brightest stars of silent film's Golden Age. Taking what he knew from vaudeville--ingenuity, athleticism, audacity and wit--Keaton applied his hand to the new medium of film, proving himself a prodigious acrobat and brilliant writer, gagman, director and actor in more than 100 films. Between 1920 and 1929, he rivaled Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd, and even Charlie Chaplin as the master of silent comedy by writing, directing, and starring in more than 30 films. The book celebrates Keaton in his prime--as an antic genius, equal parts auteur, innovator, prankster and daredevil--while also revealing the pressures in his personal and professional life that led to a collapse into drunkenness and despair before his triumphant second act as a television pioneer and Hollywood player in everything from beach movies to Beckett. McPherson describes the life of Keaton--in front of the camera and behind the scenes--with the kind of exuberance and narrative energy displayed by the shrewd, madcap films themselves.