A stock company ingénue from Louisiana, brunette Bartine Burkett appeared as an extra for Famous Players-Lasky as early as 1914. By the late 1910s, she was playing featured roles in comedy two-reelers for various low-budget companies, including Hello Trouble (1918), an L-KO ("Lehrman-Knockout") company release directed by Charley Chase and starring Oliver Hardy. In 1919 she was chosen to play the leading lady in Buster Keaton's first solo film, The "High Sign" (released 1921) but she didn't receive on-screen billing and her career failed to take off. She did play Gareth Hughes' leading lady in the comedy-drama I Can Explain (1922), properly billed this time, and there were a few supporting roles, but by 1924 she was reduced to playing a bit in Lon Chaney's He Who Gets Slapped. Leaving films to marry in 1926, a newly widowed Burkett surprisingly resumed her acting career in the late 1960s, prompted, she said, by friends and family. She went on to star in several high-profile national commercials and earned guest stints on such television shows as Mary Tyler Moore, The Rockford Files, and Alice. Her verifiable claim of having been Keaton's first leading lady earned Burkett quite a bit of press as well and she appeared in the 1987 television documentary Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow.
by Hans J. Wollstein biography