from Mike Nichols to John Belushi got their start with
Chicago's famed Second City improvisational group.
Michael Keaton landed there in 1975, and went on to L.A.
to write comedy and to act in various television series.
After a few mediocre film comedies, he broke through
with Mr. Mom, in 1983. Five years later, he shone
in two totally disparate genres: as a goofy ghoul in the
surprisingly successful Beetlejuice, and as a
strung-out yuppie addict in Clean and Sober; he
was named best actor of the year by national film
critics. Then there was his surprisingly effective star
turn as an alienated caped crusader, a part that many
thought would never mesh with his average looks. But
from the heights of his Batman stardom, in 1989,
Keaton's career has flagged. Second City didn't prepare
him for Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and
audiences prayed that his dying yuppie in My Life
would just hurry up and get it over with. He refused to
suit up for the third Batman installment, and
returned instead to his comedy roots for 1996's
Multiplicity, in which he played a
pressed-for-time construction foreman who
clones himself. Apart from cropping up in the recurring
supporting role of fed Ray Nicolet in the Elmore Leonard
adaptations Jackie Brown and Out of Sight,
Keaton's recent starring roles as a crafty mass
murderer in Desperate Measures and as a rock
musician who dies and is reincarnated as a snowman in
Jack Frost have left much to be desired.