All the Keaton bios I’ve read seem to agree that Buster & Alice Lake were “an item” early in Buster’s career. This week, I ran across this interview with Viola Dana, another well-known paramour of Keaton’s, that sheds a different light on the story:
"The four of us used to go out: Buster and myself, Roscoe and Alice. Buster and I were what the fan magazines used to call "an item." It was all harmless fun, really. But Roscoe…. the magazines would never write about his friendship with Alice because Roscoe was still married to Minta. Even though they were separated and Minta was living in New York way across the country, Roscoe was still a married man. There was the whole problem. Roscoe would go and spend time in New York with Minta, and then he would get lovesick for Alice and then he’d come back and spend time with Alice in Los Angeles. Back and forth. For and back. Back and forth. For three years!"
Later, after Buster had left Comique to form his own company, Viola states:
"I know Buster liked her, but he never instigated anything because he was friends with Roscoe. And I wouldn’t have liked it!"
Sooo, could the Buster/Alice Lake thing have been some media subterfuge to cover for the fact that Roscoe Arbuckle was the one dating Alice? If there’s one thing we know, Buster Keaton was incredibly loyal to Arbuckle, so it would make sense for Buster to cover for him. And it sounds like Miss Viola had pretty much staked a claim on Keaton!
Just one of those things that make you go “Hmmmmmmmm…..,” no?
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