The Entertainer by Margaret Talbot
Movies, Magic, and My Father's Twentieth Century

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Synopsis

Using the life and career of her father, an early Hollywood actor, New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot tells the thrilling story of the rise of popular culture through a transfixing personal lens. The arc of Lyle Talbot’s career is in fact the story of American entertainment. Born in 1902, Lyle left his home in small-town Nebraska in 1918 to join a traveling carnival. From there he became a magician’s assistant, an actor in a traveling theater troupe, a romantic lead in early talkies, then an actor in major Warner Bros. pictures with stars such as Humphrey Bogart and Carole Lombard, then an actor in cult B movies, and finally a part of the advent of television, with regular roles on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver. Ultimately, his career spanned the entire trajectory of the industry.

In her captivating, impeccably researched narrative—a charmed combination of Hollywood history, social history, and family memoir—Margaret Talbot conjures warmth and nostalgia for those earlier eras of ’10s and ’20s small-town America, ’30s and ’40s Hollywood. She transports us to an alluring time, simpler but also exciting, and illustrates the changing face of her father’s America, all while telling the story of mass entertainment across the first half of the twentieth century.

 

About Margaret Talbot

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MARGARET TALBOT has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2003. Previously, she was a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and an editor at The New Republic. She lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published November 8, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 433 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Entertainer

Kirkus Reviews

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Author Talbot pauses continually to fill us in on such things as the history of gangster films, the rise of the talkies, Hollywood scandals, Hollywood actors on Broadway and wartime moviemaking.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

The New York Times

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Margaret Talbot writes about her father, the actor Lyle Talbot, in “The Entertainer,” and Richard Lingeman writes about paranoia and insecurity in Hollywood and elsewhere in “The Noir Forties.”

Dec 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

The New York Times

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Margaret Talbot writes about her father, the actor Lyle Talbot, in “The Entertainer,” and Richard Lingeman writes about paranoia and insecurity in Hollywood and elsewhere in “The Noir Forties.”

Dec 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

The New York Times

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Margaret Talbot writes about her father, the actor Lyle Talbot, in “The Entertainer,” and Richard Lingeman writes about paranoia and insecurity in Hollywood and elsewhere in “The Noir Forties.”

Dec 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

Publishers Weekly

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Lyle left smalltown Nebraska in 1918 to join a carnival, was a magician’s assistant, traveled with a theater troupe, and launched his own theater company, the Talbot Players, in Memphis before his 1932 arrival in Hollywood.

Aug 13 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

Entertainment Weekly

Biographical books about one's parents tend to be either excoriating or fawning, generally tending toward the latter the more famous the parent in question is.

Nov 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

USA Today

New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot has written a unique memoir of her late father, character actor Lyle Talbot, using him as a symbol to explore the rise of mass entertainment in the 20th century and the cult of personality.

Dec 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

The Big Story

Luckily for Talbot, Zanuck was amused and director William Wellman so enjoyed the idea of tweaking Zanuck, even if unintentionally, that he cast Talbot in his next film on the spot.

Jan 14 2013 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

Bookmarks Magazine

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Nov 05 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

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But just when his life took a turn for the noir (booze, bad marriages, B movies), he was rescued by the author’s mother and fetched up in the family-friendly ’50s with a brood of children, a house in the suburbs and a 10-year run as the affable neighbor on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

| Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

Washingtonian

Thanks to this wonderful book, it turns out Lyle Talbot is indelible, not in pictures but in words.

Dec 04 2012 | Read Full Review of The Entertainer: Movies, Magi...

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