11 Mar 1978 – Former Hearst Personal Projectionist


W. Young Louis was William Randolph Hearst’s projectionist at San Simon. At the age of 84 he runs the Freemont Theater in downtown San Luis Obispo six nights a week. He recalls becoming acquainted with Hearst and was asked to be his personal projectionist for private showings at the castle. After San Simeon was built, I was on call for Hearst. He’d call me at all hours of the night sometimes 2 or 3 a.m. A taxi would pick me up and drive me to San Simeon a good one-hour’s drive away he said.  “Sometimes I’d stay a week and my wife would come along. I loved it”.  I showed just old movies starring Marion Davies. “We had a basement full of Miss Davies films, and she’d come down and help me choose which ones to show”.  Some people would say she was aloof, but she wasn’t.  Hearst’s guests included Presidents, writers, singers, actors, actresses, movie producers all famous people of the day.  Louis met them all there was: Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Mae West, Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Maurice Chevalier, John Barrymore, Will Rogers, Rudolph Valentino, Loretta Young, President Hoover and Calvin Coolidge. “Oh that Rudolph Valentino was a very congenial slender dapper man” Louis said.  Autographed pictures, souvenirs of their visits still fill every available space on the walls of the Freemont Theater. One of the stars who visited the castle turned out to be a relative.  “I met Anna Mae Wong, a silent screen actress and we talked for a long time. We found out we were related 16th cousins.  Louis has stayed put in the Freemont projection room since those days in the early 1940’s. He helped design the place and it fits him to a T. It’s equipped with a small wooden desk and padded vinyl chair so Louis can read and write letters while the reels roll.  No, he doesn’t always watch them. “Some of them, I …he started to say and then shrugged”.

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