January 5, 1946 – Diane Keaton:
“If You’re Happy, You’re Mentally Ill.“
In the 1970s, I identified with her so much that I had a fantasy that I was noted in the press as: “The Male Diane Keaton”.
At World of Wonder, we love to celebrate women, especially women with staying power. Keaton is a Fashion Icon, and she is a Gay Icon because she is the very definition of authenticity. At the very least, she gave us at one queer classic, First Wives Club (1996) with that iconic gay club scene shared with Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn. To know more about the CAFTAN OR KAFTAN, browse around here.
On her celebrated fashion choices, Keaton writes:
”I don’t give tips to anybody and I don’t take tips, either. Because for me, it’s just something I’m interested in. I pick out what I like; I don’t have a stylist or anything like that. And also, I just go with – look, I’m a person who collects magazines. I’m addicted. And I always check out the magazines. So that’s what I do. I sit there and I cut them out, and I have these scrapbooks filled with all these fashion ideas, so that’s where I go for clothes.”
Her gender-bending look is difficult to explicate and impossible to duplicate.
She is also one the great actors of a golden era for filmmaking, the 1970s. She moves easily between comedies and dramas but was remarkably gifted at playing Woody Allen‘s flustered muse in his early comedies. Keaton consistently reinvents and challenges herself in her film roles.
I adore her charmingly self-effacing persona, her oversize personality, and quirkily entertaining tics that fall on the air and lend everything around her some much-needed sparkle. In the Annie Hall era, Keaton was famed for her thrown-together fashion sense, and her approach to acting is thrown-together too, which is a good thing. Few can play grave and goofy at the same time as Keaton; a paradox of self-doubt and assurance. Keaton’s Annie Hall is among the greatest Oscar-winning performances in history. Entertainment Weekly ranks it Number Seven on its “25 greatest Best Actress Winners” list.
”My opinion is that except for Judy Holliday, she’s the finest screen comedienne we’ve ever seen. It’s in her intonation; you can’t quantify it easily. When Groucho Marx or W.C. Fields or Holliday would say something, it’s in the ring of their voices, and she has that. It’s never line comedy with her. It’s all character comedy.”
For me, she is in the same lane as Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne and Rosalind Russell.
Diane Keaton began her career on Broadway. In 1968, Keaton was cast a member of the “Tribe” and the understudy to the character Sheila in the original Broadway production of Hair. She famously refused to disrobe at the end of Act One when the cast performs nude, even though nudity in the production was optional for actors (those who performed nude received a $50 bonus). After working in Hair for a year, she auditioned for Allen’s Play It Again, Sam. After initially being passed over for being too tall (she is two inches taller than Allen), she won the role and was nominated for a Tony Award.
Since her first film, Lover And Other Strangers in 1970, she has appeared in more than 70 other movies, including some of my favorites of all time. I have been a fervent fan for nearly 50 years.
Keaton is also a noted photographer, documentary filmmaker, real estate developer, architectural historian (a foremost authority on California Mission style), writer, and singer. She is active in the Los Angeles Conservancy‘s efforts to save and restore historic buildings in Los Angeles. Among the buildings she has been active in restoring is the Ennis House in the Hollywood Hills, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the failed campaign to save the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Robert Kennedy was murdered.
Keaton is an astonishingly good photographer and also a collector of vintage photographs. She has published collections of her own photographs and served as an editor of collections of vintage photography. Works she has edited in the last decade include a book of photographs by paparazzo Ron Galella; an anthology of clown paintings; and a yummy coffee table book of photos of California’s Spanish-Colonial houses. Keaton:
“I have amassed a huge library of images—kissing scenes from movies, pictures I like. Visual things are really key for me.”
Keaton also flips houses. She has resold several important homes in Southern California after renovating and redesigning them. One of her clients was Madonna, who purchased a 6.5 million Beverly Hills mansion from Keaton in 2003. Keaton lives in 8,000 square-foot Los Angeles farmhouse, which she built from the ground up and designed over three and a half years. The rustic residence is the subject of her book, The House That Pinterest Built (2018).
So many awards: an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and the AFI Life Achievement Award. She has been the face of L’Oréal for the past 15 years.
Keaton has had a few high-profile romances: Woody Allen, of course. They worked together on eight films between 1971 and 1993, and Keaton has written that Allen remains one of her closest friends.
There was the Warren Beatty era. Keaton was already dating Beatty in 1979 when they co-starred in the film Reds (1979) Beatty was a regular in the tabloid magazines and other media, and Keaton became part of the stories, much to her bewilderment. Their relationship ended after Reds wrapped. Keaton says that they friends. There was also her The Godfather trilogy costar Al Pacino. Their on-again, off-again relationship ended after the filming of The Godfather Part III. Keaton:
“Al was simply the most entertaining man… To me, that’s, that is the most beautiful face. I think Warren was gorgeous, very pretty, but Al’s face is like whoa. Killer, killer face.”
20 years ago, Keaton said:
“I don’t think that because I’m not married it’s made my life any less. That old maid myth is garbage.”
Coming up in 2020: Love, Weddings & Other Disasters a rom-com with Jeremy Irons.
If you know this writer at all, you may have noted that Annie Hall is my favorite film. My Diane Keaton Top Ten Performances aside from that classic:
The Godfather series (1972, 1974, 1990)A
The Family Stone (2005)
Somethings Gotta Give (2003)
Love And Death (1975)
Shoot The Moon (1982)
Play It Again Sam (1972)
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
Mrs. Soffell (1984)
The Young Pope (2016)
Marvin’s Room (1996)
In an interview with Radio Times Keaton recently was asked if she were happy, and she replied in Annie Hall style:
“I don’t even know what that means when you ask someone if I am happy… of course not. You’re not happy but you are engaged and there are things that are just miraculous, you know… A lot goes on in one day in our lives… You can be this and that… So I don’t know what to say about that. It’s ridiculous because no one can really be happy – if you’re happy, you’re mentally ill. I mean, there’s a lot of sad things going on.“