Keaton was one of the silent-screen greats, and as gifted a film-maker as actor. He himself claimed that Houdini (a friend and business partner of his father’s, a regular visitor in the house) gave him his nickname. Chaplin tried to stop him signing away his independence, and much later directed him in their one film together. Wilder and Lester both directed him too, Wilder as a bridge-player (he said he was tournament standard), Lester in his last film. Beckett unsuccessfully tried to get him to converse, but was impressed by his stamina and professionalism in front of the camera.