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The Entertainer - review - Margaret Talbot

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MEMORY LANE Unlike most biographies about one's parents, Talbot offers a clear-eyed perspective and dive into history

The Entertainer

Current Status:
In Season
Margaret Talbot
Riverhead Hardcover
Biography, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

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. (Christina Crawford’s Mommie Dearest is an obvious exception.) Talbot, a New Yorker writer, avoids both extremes in her account of her father, Lyle, who appeared in more than 150 films in Hollywood’s golden age but fell just short of actual fame. The Entertainer is a well-researched and clear-eyed history of the early American entertainment industry told through the perspective of a Zelig-like figure who worked with everyone from Shirley Temple to Mae West to Ed Wood. Talbot fille draws from historical sources as well as her own recollection, and the result is less a walk down memory lane than a gateway to a bygone era. B+