Raymond Rohauer, a film archivist whose personal collection involved more than 10,000 old and rare motion pictures--among them most of the early comedies of Buster Keaton--and a cinema devotee who for years operated the Coronet Theater on North La Cienega Boulevard, where many of those classics were shown, has died in New York City.
His death of a heart attack on Nov. 10 was reported this week by Daily Variety. He was 63 and reportedly had been ill for some time.
Rohauer, who throughout the 1950s was forced to defend himself on charges of showing obscene films at the Coronet--a time when a hint of nudity or sexuality could bring such charges--was a New York native lured to Los Angeles by his interest in motion pictures.
He attended Los Angeles City College, formed a film society and then took over the Coronet, where he was to show obscure and offbeat pictures for several years.
It was in the 1950s that Keaton approached Rohauer and offered him prints of his early silent one-reelers, which Keaton was notorious for leaving behind whenever he changed residences. Rohauer and Keaton established a partnership and the archivist scoured the world for other of Keaton's films to place with Mack Sennett comedies and Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Laurel and Hardy prints already in his collection.
With those he began staging film festivals in Europe and America. Those screenings were credited with sparking renewed interest in Keaton. The Keaton prints also became the foundation of the Buster Keaton Archives, to open in 1989 in Columbus, Ohio, and were used, along with interviews with Rohauer himself and Keaton's surviving wife, Eleanor, and others, in a Thames Television production currently being shown on public television stations.
In the 1960s Rohauer returned to New York, where he became film curator of the former Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art.