Margaret Talbot's father Lyle left his Midwestern home in 1918 to join a traveling carnival, and went on to have a career that spanned the entire trajectory of the entertainment industry. After touring with carnivals, he became a magician’s assistant, an actor in a traveling theater troupe, a romantic lead in early talkies, a star of major Warner Brothers pictures with the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Carole Lombard, an actor in cult B movies, and finally part of the advent of television, with regular roles on Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver.
From early century small-town America to the birth of Hollywood, Lyle’s own life was entwined with a radically changing America. The Entertainer ($28.95) masterfully combines social history, old Hollywood stories, and family memoir, with Talbot using her father’s experiences as a touchstone to dig deep into the massive changes in American entertainment. Talbot paints a vivid picture of a changing world with a deep warmth and nostalgia.
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, from 1995 to 1999, an editor at The New Republic.