Natalie Talmadge (1896-1969) was an occasional silent film actress who was more well-known as the middle sister of her movie star siblings Norma and Constance Talmadge until her marriage to silent film actor and comedian Buster Keaton. She appeared in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), and Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality (1923), her final appearance.
Their marriage resulted in two sons, James, born 1922, and Robert, born 1924, but was rocky and tumultuous. Natalie spent prodigious amounts on clothes and ever-more elaborate Beverly Hills homes, and after the birth of their second son she ceased sexual relations with Buster. Although accepting of this exile (although it was imposed on him for reasons he did not understand), Keaton made it clear to Natalie and her mother that he would not go without sex and would find other partners. At this time he was only 28.
Late in the marriage Buster's career began to suffer after his contract with Schenck was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and he became more open about his affairs with other women and turned increasingly to drink. He eventually became an unmanageable alcoholic. The marriage finally collapsed. Following the much publicized and acrimonious divorce in 1932 Natalie legally changed the boys' names to Talmadge, and refused to allow them to see their father for many years.
During the next few years she became involved with an actor named Larry Kent. They lived together for a while in a house bought for her by her sister Constance after the famous Italian Villa mansion which Keaton had built for her had been sold in 1933. They also took vacations together on occasion, but the romance did not last. She never remarried, and in her solitary existence also developed an alcohol problem. Her hatred and enmity towards her former husband persisted for the rest of her life and she refused to speak of him.
Natalie Talmadge died of a cardiac arrest in 1969. She was buried in the family crypt.
Marion Meade (1995), Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase, (ISBN 0-306-80802-1).
FRINGE MUSIC Blue Grassy Knoll And Buster Keaton On The Big Screen Club Pleasance, Potterrow Until August 28 HHHHH
Aug 20, 2000; "SILENT movie" was always something of a misnomer. In cinema's salad days, the absence of dialogue was filled by live music and...