Michael Keaton
Michael John Douglas
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Birth date
September 5, 1951 (1951-09-05) (age 69)
Actor, comedian, singer, dancer

Michael John Douglas (born September 5, 1951), better known by the stage name Michael Keaton, is an American actor who became popular for his early comedic film roles, most notably his performance as the title character of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, and gained international fame for his dramatic portrayal of Bruce Wayne / Batman in Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns. He has appeared in various other films, including Night Shift, Clean and Sober, Pacific Heights, Much Ado About Nothing and Jackie Brown, and has also provided voicework in Pixar's Cars Toy Story 3 and even Gung Ho (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun).

Early life[edit | edit source]

Keaton, the youngest of seven children, was born in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania,[1] and lived in Robinson Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. His father, George A. Douglas, worked as a civil engineer and surveyor, and his mother, Leona Elizabeth (née Loftus), a homemaker, came from McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.[2][3][4][5] Keaton was raised in a Catholic family, and is of Scottish and Irish ancestry.[6][7][8] He attended Montour High School in Pennsylvania. Douglas studied speech for two years at Kent State, before dropping out and moving to Pittsburgh.

Career[edit | edit source]

Early career[edit | edit source]

An unsuccessful attempt at comedy led Keaton to working as a TV cameraman at public television station WQED (TV) in Pittsburgh. Keaton first appeared on TV in Pittsburgh-based public television programs, including "Where the Heart Is" and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1975), as one of the "Flying Zucchini Brothers."[9] He also served as a full-time production assistant on the show.[10] In 2004, following Fred Rogers' death, Keaton hosted the PBS memorial tribute program, Fred Rogers: Everybody's Favorite Neighbor. Keaton also worked as an actor in Pittsburgh theatre; he played the role of Rick in the Pittsburgh premiere of David Rabe's Sticks and Bones with the Pittsburgh Poor Players.[11]

Keaton left Pittsburgh and moved to Los Angeles to begin auditioning for various TV parts. He popped up in various popular TV shows including Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. Around this time Keaton decided to use an alternative surname to avoid confusion with well-known actor Michael Douglas and daytime host Mike Douglas, as well as to satisfy SAG rules. The rumor that Keaton changed his surname because of an attraction to actress Diane Keaton is incorrect.[12] He chose Keaton because of an affinity for the physical comedy of Buster Keaton.[13]

His next key break was working alongside James Belushi in the short-lived comedy series Working Stiffs, which showcased his comedic talent and led to a co-starring role in the comedy Night Shift directed by Ron Howard. His role as the fast-talking schemer Bill "Blaze" Blazejowski alongside Henry Winkler's nerdish morgue attendant earned Keaton some critical acclaim, and he scored leads in the subsequent comedy hits Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Gung Ho.

Keaton's role as the title character in Tim Burton's 1988 horror-comedy Beetlejuice, which co-starred Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder, earned Keaton widespread acclaim and boosted him to movieland's A list. He originally turned down the role, then reconsidered. He now considers Beetlejuice his favorite of his own films.Template:Cite That same year, he also gave an acclaimed dramatic performance as a drug-addicted businessman in Clean and Sober. Newsweek featured him in a story during this time.

Batman[edit | edit source]

Michael Keaton's career was given another major boost when he was again cast by Tim Burton, this time as the titular comic book superhero of the 1989 blockbuster Batman. Burton cast him because he thought that Keaton was the only actor who could believably portray someone who has the kind of darkly obsessive personality that the character demands.[14] Warner Bros. received thousands of letters of complaint by fans commenting that Keaton was the wrong choice to portray Batman, given his prior work in comedies and the fact that he lacked the suave, handsome features and tall, muscular physicality often attributed to the character in the comic books.[15] However, Keaton's dramatic performance earned widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike,[16] and Batman became one of the most successful films of the year.[17]

According to Les Daniels' reference book, Batman: The Complete History, Keaton wasn't surprised when he was first considered as Batman as he initially believed the film would be similar to the 1960s television series starring Adam West. It was only after he was introduced to Frank Miller's comic book mini-series, The Dark Knight Returns, that Keaton really understood the dark and brooding side of Batman that he portrayed to much fan approval.[18] Keaton later reprised the role in the sequel Batman Returns (1992), which was another critically acclaimed success, though also controversial for being darker than the previous film.[19]

He was initially set to reprise the role again for Warner Bros.' third live-action Batman film, even going as far as to show up for costume fitting. However, when Burton was dropped as director of the film, Keaton left the franchise. He was reportedly dissatisfied with the screenplay approved by the new director, Joel Schumacher, which Keaton considered to be too light-hearted in tone. According to the A&E Biography episode on Keaton, after he had refused the first time (after meetings with Schumacher), Warner Bros. offered him $15,000,000, but Keaton steadfastly refused.[20] He was subsequently replaced by Val Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995) and by George Clooney in Batman & Robin (1997).

Later career[edit | edit source]

Keaton remained in demand during the 1990s, appearing in a wide range of films including Pacific Heights, One Good Cop, My Life, and the star-studded Shakespearean story Much Ado About Nothing. He also starred in another Ron Howard film, The Paper, as well as with Andie MacDowell in Multiplicity. He has played Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent Ray Nicolette in the crime dramas Jackie Brown (1997) and Out of Sight (1998). Both films are based on books by the author Elmore Leonard. The actor also made the family holiday movie Jack Frost and the thriller Desperate Measures.

Keaton starred as a political candidate's speechwriter in 1994's Speechless with Geena Davis (his co-star in Beetlejuice) and Christopher Reeve (who, like Keaton, also portrayed a famous DC Comics superhero on film; Superman).

Since 2000, Keaton has appeared in several films with mixed success including Live From Baghdad (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award), First Daughter, White Noise, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. While he continued to receive good notices from the critics (particularly for Jackie Brown), he was not able to re-approach the box-office success of Batman until the release of Disney/Pixar's Cars (2006), in which he voiced the character Chick Hicks. On New Years Day of 2004, he hosted the PBS TV special Mr. Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor. It was released by Triumph Marketing LLC on DVD September 28 that year.

In 2006, Keaton starred in an independent film called Game 6, a semi-thriller based around the infamous 1986 World Series bid by the Boston Red Sox. He had a cameo in the Tenacious D short film, Time Fixers, an iTunes exclusive. The 9-minute film was released to coincide with Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Keaton was announced to be the lead in Media 8 Entertainment's film Reaper, a supernatural thriller. He reportedly agreed to star as John Target in the Matt Evans scripted No Rule To Make Target, and he has directed a drama, The Merry Gentleman.

Keaton reportedly was cast as Dr. Jack Shephard in the series Lost, with the understanding that the role of Jack would be a brief one. Once the role was retooled to be a long-running series regular, Keaton withdrew. The part was then given to actor Matthew Fox. The show ran for six seasons, with the Jack Shephard role continuing throughout.[21][22]

Keaton starred in the 2007 TV mini-series The Company, set during the Cold War, in which he portrayed the real-life CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton. The role garnered Keaton a 2008 SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. The Company also starred Chris O'Donnell, who portrayed Batman's crime fighting sidekick Robin (who was absent from the Batman films Keaton starred in) in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.[23]


Keaton provided the voice of Ken in Toy Story 3 (2010). The movie received overwhelmingly positive acclaim and grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it one of the most financially successful films ever.[24] He announced in June 2010 his interest in returning for a Beetlejuice sequel.[25] He also played the minor role of Captain Gene Mauch in the comedy The Other Guys.

In early 2013, "The Hollywood Reporter" announced that Keaton would be starring -- alongside Emma Stone, Naomi Watts and Zach Galifianakis in "Birdman", a movie based on a Raymond Chandler short story, scheduled for 2014 release. The comedy is the latest project from 21 Grams and Biutiful director, Alejandro González Iñárritu. In the movie, Keaton will play a former actor, famous for playing an iconic superhero, who puts on a Broadway play to regain his former glory. Stone plays his fresh-out-of-rehab daughter/assistant. Watts is his co-star and Galifianakis is the play's producer.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Keaton was married to actress Caroline McWilliams from 1982 until 1990. They have one child, Sean Maxwell (born 1983). He also had a relationship with actress Courteney Cox from 1989 to 1995.[26]

Keaton, a Pittsburgh native, is a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan. He even went so far as to negotiate a break in his Batman movie contract in case the Pirates made the playoffs that year. He is also a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.[27] An avid fisherman, Keaton can be seen on the saltwater fishing series Buccaneers & Bones on Outdoor Channel, along with Tom Brokaw, Zach Gilford, Thomas McGuane and Yvon Chouinard.[28]

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Film[edit | edit source]

Year Film Role Notes
1978 Rabbit Test Sailor Film Debut
1982 Night Shift Bill Blazejowski Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
1983 Mr. Mom Jack Butler
1984 Johnny Dangerously Jonathan "Johnny" Kelly (a.k.a. Johnny Dangerously)
1986 Gung Ho Hunt Stevenson Australian title Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Touch and Go Robert "Bobby" Barbato
1987 The Squeeze Harold "Harry" Berg
1988 She's Having a Baby Himself uncredited cameo
Beetlejuice Betelgeuse Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Clean and Sober Daryl Poynter National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
1989 The Dream Team William "Billy" Caufield
Batman Bruce Wayne / Batman
1990 Pacific Heights Carter Hayes
1991 One Good Cop Arthur "Artie" Lewis
1992 Batman Returns Bruce Wayne / Batman Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (with Michelle Pfeiffer)
Porco Rosso Porco Rosso voice in 2003 English dubbed version
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Dogberry
My Life Robert "Bob" Jones
1994 The Paper Henry Hackett
Speechless Kevin Vallick
1996 Multiplicity Douglas "Doug" Kinney
1997 Inventing the Abbotts Narrator / Older Doug uncredited
Jackie Brown Raymond "Ray" Nicolette
1998 Desperate Measures Peter McCabe
Out of Sight Raymond "Ray" Nicolette cameo
Jack Frost Jack Frost
2000 A Shot at Glory Peter Cameron
2002 Live from Baghdad Robert Wiener
2003 Quicksand Martin Raikes
2004 First Daughter President Mackenzie
2005 White Noise Jonathan Rivers
Game 6 Nicholas "Nicky" Rogan
Herbie: Fully Loaded Raymond "Ray" Peyton, Sr.
2006 Cars Chick Hicks / Security Guard voice only
The Last Time Ted "Theodore"
2009 The Merry Gentleman Franklin "Frank" Logan director, actor
Post Grad Walter Malby
Noah's Ark: The New Beginning Noah voice only
2010 Toy Story 3 Ken
The Other Guys Captain Gene Mauch
2011 Hawaiian Vacation Depri Ken voice only
2014 RoboCop Raymond Sellars
Need for Speed
Birdman Actor

Television[edit | edit source]

Year Production Role Other notes
1976 All's Fair Lannie Wolf
1977 Klein Time Various
Maude Chip Winston
1978 Mary Skit characters
The Tony Randall Show Zeke
1979 The Mary Tyler Moore Hour Kenneth Christy
Working Stiffs Mike O'Rourke
1981 Kraft Walt Disney World 10th Anniversary Various
1982 Report To Murphy Murphy
2001 The Simpsons Jack Crowley 1 episode guest star
2002 Frasier Blaine Sternin
Live from Baghdad Robert Wiener Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
King of the Hill Trip Larsen 1 episode guest star
2004 Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor Host Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special
2007 The Company James Angleton Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2011 30 Rock Tom 1 episode guest star

Video Games[edit | edit source]

Year Production Role Other notes
2006 Cars Chick Hicks Voice only
2009 Cars Race-O-Rama Chick Hicks Voice only
2012 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Jason Hudson Replacing Ed Harris

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Michael Keaton Biography. The Biography Channel. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved on December 31, 2010.
  2. Michael Keaton Biography (1950–). Filmreference.com. Retrieved on January 24, 2012.
  3. A LEADING MAN WITHOUT PAUSE - The Record (Bergen County, NJ) | HighBeam Research
  4. Vancheri, Barbara. "Obituary: Leona Douglas / Actor Michael Keaton's mother doted on her seven children", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 13, 2002. Retrieved on July 11, 2010. 
  5. "Actor Michael Keaton is another who insists he is half-Scottish", Express on Sunday, September 25, 2005. Retrieved on December 12, 2007. 
  6. and went to St. Malachy Church ENTERTAINMENT NEWS | WHAS11.com | News for Louisville, Kentucky
  7. Fulton, Rick. "Michael Keaton: I dropped my phone in surprise when I was offered the role of Barbie's Ken in Toy Story 3", Daily Record, June 11, 2010. Retrieved on September 19, 2010. 
  8. http://jam.canoe.ca/Movies/Artists/K/Keaton_Michael/2008/01/25/4793291-sun.html
  9. "Keaton offers advice to young actors." ABC.com. April 14, 2008.
  10. "15 reasons Mr. Rogers was best neighbor ever." CNN.com. July 28, 2008.
  11. Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 178. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  12. Kellison, Daniel. Dinner With Daniel: Michael Keaton. grantland.com. Retrieved on July 13, 2012.
  13. Keaton, Eleanor; Vance, Jeffrey (2001). Buster Keaton Remembered. Harry N. Abrams Inc. pp. 124. ISBN 13: 9780810942271. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  14. Nancy Griffin; Kim Masters (1997). "Hit Men". Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony For A Ride In Hollywood. Simon & Schuster. pp. 158–174. ISBN 0-684-80931-1.
  15. Hilary de Vries (1989-02-05). "Batman Battles for Big Money". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
  16. Alison McMahan (2005). "Burton's Batman: Myth, Marketing, and Merchandising". The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale. ISBN 0-8264-1566-0 121–156.
  17. Staff (1989-06-27). "Batman Sets Record And So Does Hollywood". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
  18. Les Daniels (2000). Batman: The Complete History. Chronicle Books. p. 164. ISBN 0-8118-2470-5.
  19. Salisbury, Burton, p.102-114
  20. "Batman 3", Entertainment Weekly, October 1, 1993. Retrieved on August 16, 2008. 
  21. ^ J.J. Abrams (Director), Lloyd Braun (Director). Lost Season 1 DVD [DVD]. Los Angeles: Buena Vista Home Entertainment..
  22. Jensen, Jeff (November 24, 2006). When Stephen King met the 'Lost' boys. Ew.com. Retrieved on January 24, 2012.
  23. Michael Keaton STILL Interested in 'Beetleuice 2'. Bloody-disgusting.com (June 7, 2010). Retrieved on January 24, 2012.
  24. Keaton would do Beetlejuice 2 "in a heartbeat". Moviehole.net (June 6, 2010). Retrieved on January 24, 2012.
  25. Michael Keaton REALLY Interested in Resurrecting Beetlejuice for a Sequel. Dreadcentral.com (June 7, 2010). Retrieved on January 24, 2012.
  26. PAGE REPORT DISPLAY FOR 24961466800. Herndon1.sdrdc.com. Retrieved on January 24, 2012.
  27. Nightengale, Bob. "Pirates are talk of baseball with captivating run", USA Today, July 28, 2011. 
  28. Buccaneers And Bones. Retrieved Feb 24, 2011.

External links[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
Adam West
Batman Actor
Succeeded by
Val Kilmer
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