ISBN-10: 0533165113

ISBN-13: 978-0533165117


From 1934 to 1975, The Persian Room was one of New York’s premier entertainment venues. Beginning in the era when professional dancers and big bands were the major draws, the Persian Room became a Mecca for top-flight showroom performers and touring musicians who, collectively, found the Room one of their favorite places to engage with their audiences.

The title of Patty Farmer’s new appreciation of The Persian Room is apt; it is indeed an “oral history” of the 40 years during which the Persian Room changed with the times. Organized by decades, each chapter opens with a description of what was going on at the Room during that period followed by extensive interviews with many of the entertainers who are still alive or with those who knew and worked with them. So the names invoked are legends like Andy Williams, Marge Champion, Polly Bergen, Diahann Carroll, Connie Stevens, Lesley Gore, Patti Page, Carol Lawrence, Michelle Lee, Lainie Kazan, Julie Wilson, Tony Butala, Tony Sandler, Celeste Holm, Kaye Ballard, Jack Jones, and Roslyn Kind, all of whom sat down and shared memories with Farmer. Other major stars no longer with us, like the incomparable Hildegarde, Liberace, Lisa Kirk, and Kay Thompson, are discussed by their managers and admirers. One of these is Hilary Knight, the famous illustrator who created “Eloise,” a caricature that became as much a logo of the room as any of the living personages on stage.

Collected over five years, all these interviews provide a unique window into the type of entertainers who appeared at The Persian Room, many of whom are sketched out in detailed biographies to demonstrate just why they should be remembered. “The Incomparable Hildegarde,” for example, was once considered the standard by which other showroom entertainers were measured even though she never enjoyed huge success in recordings or film.

The Persian Room Presents is for anyone interested in popular entertainment of the period (s) and the breed of entertainers who graced the Room’s stage. Because 70-80% of the book is interviews, readers hear a variety of perspectives told in a variety of styles. But one unifying theme is the belief the Persian Room was once wonderfully unique. You can both read and see this in the photos and artifacts donated by the interviewees to get a pictorial sense of the glamour and camaraderie that took place all those years ago. Odds are, there will never be a place like it again.

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