Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts (February 2, 1871 – October 28, 1923) was an American comic actor, most notably in Buster Keaton's silent short films of the 1920s.

"Big Joe" Roberts, as he was known in vaudeville, toured the country with his first wife, Lillian Stuart Roberts as part of a rowdy act known as Roberts, Hays, and Roberts. Their signature routine was called "The Cowboy, the Swell and the Lady." At this time, in the first decade of the twentieth century, Buster Keaton's father, Joe Keaton, had started a summer Actors' Colony for vaudevillians between Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake in Michigan. Roberts became acquainted with the Keaton family as a member of this community.

When Buster Keaton's film apprenticeship years with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle came to an end, and Keaton began making his own shorts in 1920, he asked Roberts to join him. Roberts' hefty 6'3" frame made a striking and amusing contrast to the thin, 5'6" Keaton. He appeared in 16 of Keaton's 19 silent short films, usually playing a menacing heavy or authority figure.

IMDB shows that Roberts made only two films without Keaton. He played the role of "Roaring Bill" Rivers in 1922's The Primitive Lover, starring Keaton's sister-in-law, Constance Talmadge and silent star, Harrison Ford, and a drill master in the Clyde Cook comedy The Misfit, released in March 1924, after Roberts' death.

When Keaton began making feature films in 1923, he apparently intended to continue working with Roberts. Roberts had roles in Keaton's Three Ages, and Our Hospitality (both 1923). During the filming of the second feature, Roberts had a stroke but insisted on returning to the set to finish the film. After completion, Roberts suffered another stroke and died shortly afterwards.

Famous quotes containing the words roberts and/or joe:

    Man, she looked as though she’d been thrown off the crummiest freight train in the world. Yet, in spite of this, I got the impression of beauty. Not the beauty of a movie actress, mind you, or the beauty you dream about when you’re with your wife. But a natural beauty. A beauty that’s almost homely because it’s so real.
    Martin Goldsmith, and Edgar G. Ulmer. Al Roberts (Tom Neal)

    While we were thus engaged in the twilight, we heard faintly, from far down the stream, what sounded like two strokes of a woodchopper’s axe, echoing dully through the grim solitude.... When we told Joe of this, he exclaimed, “By George, I’ll bet that was a moose! They make a noise like that.” These sounds affected us strangely, and by their very resemblance to a familiar one, where they probably had so different an origin, enhanced the impression of solitude and wildness.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)