Did You Know?
At the end of the first winter-spring 1964 Hollywood Palace B&W (#1.23) television season, Nick Vanoff & Bill Harbach scheduled the show's host Gene Barry, with guest stars Gloria Swanson (27 March 1899-4 April 1983, age 83) and Buster Keaton (4 Oct 1885-1 Feb 1966, age 70) to appear together in a comedy sketch. Buster Keaton, a vaudeville and silent film comedienne was currently featured with Jimmy Stewart in the 1964 feature released film "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". Bringing famous Hollywood film stars onto the Vanoff and Harbach television variety show was the producer's casting goal. Featuring Buster Keaton with Gloria Swanson on the ABC TV 'Hollywood Palace' was considered a coup and a promotional Buster Keaton appearance for the 1964 madcap comedy feature film. The comedy sketch starred Gloria Swanson (age 65) as Cleopatra, Buster Keaton (age 68) as 'Anthony', staged on a Roman stepped platform terrace surrounded by 20 inch high parapet wall and Roman columns. The Jay Burton and Joe Bigelow sketch combined the romantic antics of the two falling in love. In rehearsals, director Grey Lockwood accepted any comedic suggestions both Swanson and Keaton would offer. Gloria with Buster brought bits and routines into the suggested scripted sketch, Buster would say "how about this", wonderful inventive stuff. To look on and react to these two old kids, to view them at their crazy antics. The first day on camera rehearsal, Gloria stood on her stage sketch spot, looking up at the lighting fixtures hanging overhead, asking for the lighting director to join her on stage. Jack Denton ran up onto stage from the tech control booth, joining Gloria Swanson and Buster Keaton. Swanson started pointing out the overhead stage Fresnel light fixtures, requiring adjustments, for her key light, side light, the back light, exactly how she wanted the lights focused upon both she and Buster Keaton, and what color gels to use. Buster stood speechless! Jack Denton made sure all of the specific lights Gloria had singled out were aimed in their key stage positions. To end the sketch, Keaton's idea was for the pair to join hands, sitting on the parapet back wall bench, to drop backwards out of sight, abruptly, ending the comedy sketch love story. Gloria and Buster even rehearsed the backward fall, raising their legs high for their last shot, feet in the air falling backwards, doing their own stunt! The dynamic pair were hilarious. See more