Guest Author - Carol Taller
Diane Hall was born in Los Angeles, California on January 5, 1946. She changed her last name to Keaton because Diane Hall was already being used at the Actor’s Equity Association.
She was the oldest of four children. Her mother Dorothy (maiden name Keaton) was a homemaker and her father Jack was a real estate broker and civil engineer. Diane claimed she decided to become an actress after seeing her mother win the Mrs. Los Angeles pageant for homemakers. She claimed the Pageant’s theatrical event excited and inspired her.
Hall graduated Santa Ana High School and went on to attend college as an acting student but she dropped out of college to attempt a career in New York. This was when she joined the Actors Equity Association.
Keaton became an understudy in the original production of “Hair”, and gained some notoriety from her refusal to play the scene nude. After a few months she auditioned for a role in “Play It Again, Sam” produced by Woody Allen. She was almost passed over for the part because she was two inches taller than Allen, but she got the role and was nominated for a Tony Award. Keaton and Allen got friendly during rehearsal, and their famous romance began. Allen claimed he enjoyed her sense of humor, but their romantic relationship became less formal by the time that movie “Play It Again, Sam” was made. They continued to make eight more films together, and Keaton later described Allen as one of her closest friends.
She made her film debut in “Lovers and Other Strangers” and began a series of commercials and guest appearances on tv. One of her bigger breakthroughs came when she was cast as Kay Adams in “The Godfather”. She continued to make films that portrayed her as an eccentric, slightly kooky character. Many of her films were collaborations with Woody Allen, who referred to her as his muse during this part of his career.
In 1977 Allen wrote and directed a film called “Annie Hall”. It is believed to be based on his relationship with Keaton and the character of Annie is believed to be modeled after Keaton. He even used her birthname “Hall”, and her nickname “Annie”. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Keaton won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her stle of dress in the film was vintage clothing, with baggy pants, vests, and men’s ties. In her personal life she also had a reputation for dressing in a tomboy manner. As her career progressed she continued to dress conservatively and often in menswear. She was often described as easy to pick out in a crowd because of her unusual fashion style. Her personality and clothing style blended easily with the character in Annie Hall, but later that year Keaton took on a dramatic role in an attempt to change our image. “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” proved her ability to stretch beyond her quirky personality and unusual clothing style.
Keaton tried to start up a vocal career, but it never came to fruition. She had more success with a career in photography. Her photos of hotel interiors were published in book form in 1980.
By 1979 Keaton became romantically involved with Warren Beatty. He cast her in his film “Reds” and she received her second Academy Award nomination for that film. They separated after finishing the film, but there is speculated that the separation was caused by the stress of numerous film production problems. Keaton remains in contact with Beatty as a friend.
While filming “The Godfather” and its sequels, Keaton also had an on/off relationship with Al Pacino, After the death of her father, Keaton decided to adopted one daughter, Dexter in 1996. By July 2001 Keaton announced that she had given up trying to persue romantic relationships. She adopted a son Duke in 2001.
The next few years Keaton’s success roller coastered. She began to produce and direct, but it was not until 1991 that she experienced another big success. “Father of the Bride” with Steve Martin cast Keaton as a middle aged mother of a woman about to be married. The comedy was a major commercial success. The success of “The First Wives Club” followed in 1996. She got rave reviews of the film portraying a middle aged woman who had been divorced by her husband searching for a younger woman.
Keaton’s next big success came with “Something’s Gotta Give”, a movie where she starred with Jack Nicholson in a romantic comedy. There was discussion that both actors were too old to make a lot of money starring in a romantic comedy, but Keaton received her another Academy Award nomination for her role in this film.
Keaton was always a talented performer and fun to watch. She remained active and productive, and has managed to reinvent herself with the times.