September 01, 1980 12:00 PM

She deserted her prime minister husband and their three sons, cavorted with rock stars and matinee idols, dabbled in photography, shilled for a disco and launched a film career that bombed in two languages. Margaret Trudeau also told all in Beyond Reason, a scandalous memoir that became an issue in estranged husband Pierre’s campaign last year.

Then, suddenly, Margaret seemed to disappear into decorum—but only for six months. This fall she makes her TV satirical debut in Big City Comedy, a Canadian version of Saturday Night Live that will be syndicated in the U.S. In the segments already taped, she plays a variety of comic roles including a First Lady. To Trudeau, 31, a crack at comedy seems a logical career step. “I’d rather be the butt of a good joke,” she explains, “than a bad rumor.”

Actually, the rumors have stopped, and Margaret describes herself as “very happy and quite fulfilled.” The one setback was that though her book sold well, she claims that her publisher’s bankruptcy left her with little of the proceeds. The small red-brick house she now lives in near the prime minister’s residence in Ottawa was paid for by Pierre. “It’s just like a doll’s house,” says Margaret. “It was fun fixing it up—even though everything’s so expensive.” She gets by with just a cleaning woman—and even mows the lawn herself, to keep up appearances for the tour buses that regularly stop by. Trudeau has also thrown herself back into motherhood with enthusiasm, taking Justin, 8, Sacha, 6, and Michel, 4, on alternate weeks. “I feel I’m pulling my weight as a parent,” she says. “Maybe in three or four years I’ll spend more time on a career and on myself, but right now they need the strong presence of a mother.”

Of course, Margaret Trudeau wouldn’t be herself without a romance, and she confesses that she is seeing a man from Ottawa: “We’re not terribly serious, but we really enjoy each other. Emphatically,” she adds, “there will be no reconciliation with Pierre.” Indeed, her comedy gig gave her a chance to snipe at the PM. “Pierre encourages my career,” says Margaret. “But that’s so he doesn’t have to support me.”

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