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Was excited to read this book, the biography of actor Lyle Talbot, brought to Hollywood from the stage in the early 30s, was put under contract to a major film studio and groomed for stardom, who mixed with the elite, enjoyed the perks that loads of money could buy, did not achieve stardom, and was washed up as a leading man But he kept on keeping on This book did not deliver what I wanted and expected The author, and maybe her publisher, had no confidence that there was an audience for Was excited to read this book, the biography of actor Lyle Talbot, brought to Hollywood from the stage in the early 30s, was put under contract to a major film studio and groomed for stardom, who mixed with the elite, enjoyed the perks that loads of money could buy, did not achieve stardom, and was washed up as a leading man But he kept on keeping on This book did not deliver what I wanted and expected The author, and maybe her publisher, had no confidence that there was an audience for a bio of Lyle Talbot and so she wrote instead about the many forms of 20th century entertainment in which her father participated The author did a prodigious amount of research into these various forms, from carnivals to TV, about which she writes extensively, and while these history lessons are interesting, sort of, they effectively reduce Talbot to a bit player in the story of his life.Lyle Talbot was an actor who is known today to those who watch 30s movies on TCM While he s no Bogart a fellow Warner Bros contract player who was drifting in the same boat as Lyle until The Maltese Falcon reset his course he s a likeable andthan capable actor We, the viewers of these movies, especially the pre code films, are interested in knowing about the actors But because most of them, hundreds just like Lyle, never achieved stardom, we know very little about their Hollywood careers because writers have not considered them worthy of a book length study or thought there was an audience eager to read about them Then, along comes Lyle s daughter, a writer, and a good one, who could have written a book that uncovered the details about his 30s career at Warner Bros, including an examination of how the studio system worked and the actor s place within that system In so doing, Lyle could have represented all the other not quite stars who, after a few years of heavy star building promotion, either left the business or were demoted to supporting or character roles, and then, if they were able to hold on long enough as Lyle did, move into TV in the 50s But the author is not really interested in writing about Lyle s career She s not really interested in Lyle s films, although she does discuss Mary Stevens MD , made with Kay Francis, but not Mandalay , a favorite of mine and many other Francis fans And she gets points for an excellent discussion of 3 on a Match , in which Lyle has a large and memorable role In addition to Lyle s films, there exists other primary source materials, though unearthing them will require effort, but this will have to wait until a future biographer takes on the task of excavation and tells us the full story of how an ordinary entertainer kept his career going from age 17 into his 80s While not prudish, although I might be mistaken on this point, I was annoyed that the author wrote about the bedroom intimacies of her mother and Lyle The author says that Lyle, sexually, was decades ahead of his time Puleeze, spare me, spare the reader at large, spare all those I m assuming there are some others, but I could be mistaken again who don t want to know what went on in her parent s bedroom I m glad to read that Lyle and Paula had a loving and happy 40 year marriage, that Lyle enjoyed cooking breakfast every morning and that Paula sang when she came into the kitchen that s all I need to know, it s all I want to know, and it s enough.One final complaint The book cover does not mention Lyle s name, which is a big clue to what will not be found on the inside pages Further, this is the dreariest cover I ve ever seen, its grayness containing words but no pictures, nothing that would lure one to open this book if seen on a display table at Barnes and Noble What were the publishers thinking Don t they want to sell any copies Be aware that this book is not a biography It is not a memoir It is not about 30s Hollywood, except as covered in one of the history lessons I borrowed my copy from the library, which I recommend you do before buying Margaret Talbot has written a masterpiece The Entertainer is, on its face, a biographical history, telling the story of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, in the context of his long sweep through 20th century America.The historical side of this book is itself very good, interesting, informative, and engaging Others have covered those aspect in reviews and in the product description But what elevates The Entertainer to masterpiece status in my experience with it is in its duet of personalitie Margaret Talbot has written a masterpiece The Entertainer is, on its face, a biographical history, telling the story of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, in the context of his long sweep through 20th century America.The historical side of this book is itself very good, interesting, informative, and engaging Others have covered those aspect in reviews and in the product description But what elevates The Entertainer to masterpiece status in my experience with it is in its duet of personalities on the page that of the subject, Lyle, and the narrator, Margaret.For me, this is a love story, one like I ve never quite encountered.The book is a sustained unfolding of someone Margaret Talbot loved deeply in her particular relationship that of the youngest child and daughter of an elderly romantic father And, as a veteran journalist a staff writer for the New Yorker , Margaret has managed to achieve a very delicate balance between loyal adoration and deep analysis She maintains a very tender touch which invites and retains us but, with remarkable subtlety, she also keeps him at enough of a distance assisted by their age difference Margaret was born when Lyle was nearing 60 to allow her to regularly challenge or question certain aspects, periods, paths, and actions taken by her father through his life.But it is her tenderness that holds throughout, and that is achieved through an astonishingly superb ease with language Margaret Talbot guides the reader with unusual charm She is casual but educated, playful but realistic, loving but inquisitive almost always invisibly smart In fact, the only negative points I d give this book is in Margaret s occasional use of academic sources in the historical passages When that happens, the clunky writing of her quoted authorities merely begs her to paraphrase them in her own swimmingly natural voice But, then, when she quotes her father from interviews through his life, the source of her own voice becomes clear she is taking the reader through Lyle Talbot s life in a cadence and vernacular that very closely matches his But, again, she does this in such a natural manner that it never feels contrived rather, I think that we are witnessing a verbal lineage.And with that, for nine chapters Margaret Talbot provides voice to her father We get to know Lyle through her And, we get to know Margaret, in turn, through her telling So when Margaret herself finally arrives on the scene in Chapter 10 as the story enters the 1960s, we readers become tearfully overjoyed with this sweet climax in which the subject and narrator finally meet It is the oddest thing it is nearly invisible, certainly not stated overtly by the author But there it is And when it happens it is pure masterwork It is one of those instances that, as a reader, I found myself liking the book, the subject, and the narratorandthrough its progress to then be delivered to an amazing elevation into flight at the very end It s one of those books that conclude with a vocalized, Wow In this incredibly well written book, Margaret Talbot not only writes a biography of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, but also captures the zeitgeist of the first half of the twentieth century and the evolution of entertainment Lyle was a Nebraska born boy of Irish stock, raised by his grandmother in a boarding house In his teens, he discovered his father and the theater He knew the life of an itinerant carnie actor magician through the twenties, and made his way to Hollywood soon after the ad In this incredibly well written book, Margaret Talbot not only writes a biography of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, but also captures the zeitgeist of the first half of the twentieth century and the evolution of entertainment Lyle was a Nebraska born boy of Irish stock, raised by his grandmother in a boarding house In his teens, he discovered his father and the theater He knew the life of an itinerant carnie actor magician through the twenties, and made his way to Hollywood soon after the advent of talkies He acted in a wide variety of films, from great classics with Shirley Temple to classics for other reasons like Plan 9 From Outer Space In the end, he found a niche in character roles in the new medium of television.Talbot is never worshipful as she describes her father s career and lover boy reputation in fact, she s refreshingly blunt and analytical She draws from numerous interviews and sources as she addresses many things her father never discussed with his children, such as his brief marriages with other women and even the claim of abuse by one ex wife She isn t defensive of her father, but gracefully explains the context of the times This is a book that abounds in fascinating stories and trivia.If you have any interest in early Hollywood or 20th century history, this enlightening book is well worth your time I will certainly be keeping it on my research shelf The Entertainer covers a large swatch of twentieth century entertainment as history and also a biography of the author s father, Lyle Talbot It s quite obvious that Margaret was deeply fond of her father, although her grandmother didn t quite like the influence he had on his daughter But the tales she heard from her Dad clearly fascinated her and made her realize that the history of entertaining was one to share with the world because of its unique evolution over time and with the additional The Entertainer covers a large swatch of twentieth century entertainment as history and also a biography of the author s father, Lyle Talbot It s quite obvious that Margaret was deeply fond of her father, although her grandmother didn t quite like the influence he had on his daughter But the tales she heard from her Dad clearly fascinated her and made her realize that the history of entertaining was one to share with the world because of its unique evolution over time and with the additional development of new technologies so rapidly occurring during the 20th Century.To begin with the reader is introduced to the world of the story as her father shared events and characters galore in his long career he was already sixty when his daughter was born This is the world we learn began with side shows, circuses, traveling stage shows, hypnotists with real and criminal skills, silent screen movies, talkies, big screen movies, and so muchuntil one gets the full picture that just also includes America s development An interesting part that is sometimes unrecognized is how much small rural towns contributed to the spread of entertainment, whether it was good or bad The monotony of life led to a demand for such entertainment which also served as morality plays, stories in which common people could identify with similar characters, and just downright plain silliness to lighten the financial and work burdens of most Americans At times the entertainment was quite bawdy and probably should have been banned but wasn t as there was little preoccupation with ratings in the 1920s and 1930s and even later.Then we read about Lyle Talbot s career which spanned every type of possible acting from gangsters and romance stories to cowboy tales andLyle Talbot never really made it big in the sense of his own performance but certainly worked with the big names in the industry, from Mae West to Clark Gable andHe also acted in well known TV serials and actually performed in Hollywood and New York great shows, including Lincoln Center A multitude of famous and not so well known films are listed with leading and minor actors and actresses Margaret Talbot prefers to focuson the varying talents of her father and other actors and actresses While she glosses over the difficulties of such a lifestyle, including her father s weakness for less than savory women and absence because of constant traveling that goes with the job, she does create in the reader the sense that acting skills had to change as well as the means by which entertainment was offered She tells some funny stories about how her father flubbed certain performances such as when he was supposed to feign a punch on another character but wound up knocking him out andlike this account.This is a book for any person with even the faintest interest in entertainment, whether that be in pre movie entertainment, movies, TV movies and serial shows, and the theater All in all, Margaret Talbot has offered a panoramic history and depiction that should be required reading for everyone in the industry and those who love the same for all the reasons so obvious in Margaret Talbot s tribute to one of the greatest industries in the world As an old movie fan, I looked forward to learningabout Lyle Talbot, whose life nearly spanned the 20th century 1902 1996 He was an actor who I d think, I ve heard that name somewhere before, but can t place the face Looking at Wikipedia Lyle Talbot and what a handsome face it was , Talbot s filmography is long and varied The Entertainer could have used a filmography in the end papers to help the reader better place the actor in time and memory Talbot s daughter Margaret writes a As an old movie fan, I looked forward to learningabout Lyle Talbot, whose life nearly spanned the 20th century 1902 1996 He was an actor who I d think, I ve heard that name somewhere before, but can t place the face Looking at Wikipedia Lyle Talbot and what a handsome face it was , Talbot s filmography is long and varied The Entertainer could have used a filmography in the end papers to help the reader better place the actor in time and memory Talbot s daughter Margaret writes a nontraditional biography of her father, placing him in context with what was happening in history, society, culture at various times in his life Talbot grew up in Nebraska, and his first venture into entertainment was as a hypnotist s assistant in a side show He later ended up in Hollywood, appearing in silent films and talkies Left Hollywood for Broadway, then returned to California and encountered difficulty finding work after WWII But Talbot worked hard, and didn t care what parts he played as long as he worked Then came serials Batman and Ed Wood films Plan 9 from Outer Space He found steady work on television in the 1950s and 60s as a regular on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and guest starred on many other shows The title The Entertainer is appropriate for the long and varied career of the author s father.I kind of dozed off at times while reading because Margaret Talbot thoroughly researched history and culture and many times overdid the background material when just a little would have sufficed The most interesting part of the book was the last chapter in which M Talbot describes her family s home life and her relationship with her father Old Hollywood has always seemed like such a fascinating place to me Just the name Hollywood evokes glamor I love reading about it and was very excited to read The Entertainer based on the fact that it was about Hollywood alone The Entertainer is both a personal history and a general history of Old Hollywood.Margaret Talbot tells both the story of her father and Hollywood in this book Through recollection of her father s many stories and her own meticulous research, she captures the transitio Old Hollywood has always seemed like such a fascinating place to me Just the name Hollywood evokes glamor I love reading about it and was very excited to read The Entertainer based on the fact that it was about Hollywood alone The Entertainer is both a personal history and a general history of Old Hollywood.Margaret Talbot tells both the story of her father and Hollywood in this book Through recollection of her father s many stories and her own meticulous research, she captures the transition between silent movies and the talkies, as movies with sound were often referred to as when they first came out Margaret Talbot s father, Lyle, was a screen actor who made this transition The story follows Lyle from his sort of sad childhood growing up until his death as an old man Most of the book focuses on Lyle s time in Hollywood Even though I did not recognize Lyle by name, through reading the book I realized that I had seen some of the movies that he had been in.This book is both a fascinating biography and a good history book So many of the things that happened in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s changed the movie business and laid the ground work for many of the things that we see today in movies I think that people who both like biographies and history will like this book While sometimes Talbot could give descriptions that were a little bit too long, overall the writing style in this book was good I liked that Talbot included her father s story rather than just making this a general history of Old Hollywood Getting to see everything that was going on through Lyle s eyes was really fascinating.Bottom line History and biography lovers will enjoy this book |Read ☥ The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father's Twentieth Century ♂ 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 , Lyle left his home in small town Nebraska into 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 industryIn 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 s and s small town America, s and s 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 Margaret Talbot writes a fine tribute to her father, Lyle Talbot and Hollywood as seen through his eyes Lyle never attained star status, but he was a very competent actor who enthusiastically took every acting job he was offered and played it with skill and professionalism He had cut his teeth during the 1920 s traveling in small theater shows that crisscrossed the Midwest In the 1930 s Lyle was an experienced stage actor, but a novice in the films being made in Hollywood His stage credits c Margaret Talbot writes a fine tribute to her father, Lyle Talbot and Hollywood as seen through his eyes Lyle never attained star status, but he was a very competent actor who enthusiastically took every acting job he was offered and played it with skill and professionalism He had cut his teeth during the 1920 s traveling in small theater shows that crisscrossed the Midwest In the 1930 s Lyle was an experienced stage actor, but a novice in the films being made in Hollywood His stage credits came in handy, however, as the films were just beginning to talk Lyle and Hollywood grew together He got progressively better roles and a contract with Warner Brothers He became close friends and drinking buddies with many of the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood The book also recounts Lyle s fight to winrights and benefits for actors as he helps establish the Screen Actor s Guild He also battled with alcohol, finally winning with the help of his fourth wife, Margaret Epple They would be married for over forty years and be blessed with four children, before death separated them Margaret Talbot writes a loving memoir, at times very warm and intimate, while at other times very scholarly Highly recommended for any devotee of the silver screen and its mystique This was a wonderful read The author talks about a lotthan her father s history She dives into the history of the time period he lived in and the moment in time she is focusing on in his life Some people would think it filler but I enjoyed this style immensely because it gave me a good idea of what was going on during the time she was speaking of and what people were thinking I also loved how she didn t gloss over her father s life She may not know every detail but she did Lyle Talb This was a wonderful read The author talks about a lotthan her father s history She dives into the history of the time period he lived in and the moment in time she is focusing on in his life Some people would think it filler but I enjoyed this style immensely because it gave me a good idea of what was going on during the time she was speaking of and what people were thinking I also loved how she didn t gloss over her father s life She may not know every detail but she did Lyle Talbot justice in her book and made the reader understand the kind of man he was She also used the book as a way to try and connect with the father she didn t know who was married numerous times before marrying her mother but never spoke of his ex.wives I think she must have learned a lotabout her father when she was researching and it was as interesting to her as it is to the reader.I am really glad I picked up this bookthough the chance of my reading it was high to begin with since I love Hollywood history as whole This book was one of the better written histories of actors that I have read I won an ARC of this book on a goodreads giveaway.However, other than a few minor flaws that I assume were corrected for the real book, this was wonderful I am not a film buff, nor did I even know who Lyle Talbot was when I began reading But the author weaves the history of 20th Century entertainment around her father s life story in a fascinating way The man was in carnivals, hypnotists shows, traveling theater companies, silent movies, talkies, B movies He was in Plan 9 From Outer Space, I won an ARC of this book on a goodreads giveaway.However, other than a few minor flaws that I assume were corrected for the real book, this was wonderful I am not a film buff, nor did I even know who Lyle Talbot was when I began reading But the author weaves the history of 20th Century entertainment around her father s life story in a fascinating way The man was in carnivals, hypnotists shows, traveling theater companies, silent movies, talkies, B movies He was in Plan 9 From Outer Space, the worst movie ever made , and early sit coms.Yes, this book is a tribute to a well loved father, but it s also history And it s not just about entertainment Talbot does a good job of covering women s roles, men s roles, alcoholism, organized crime, and attitudes toward sex.I found this book fascinating and plan to buy a few copies to give to family members who will appreciate it