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”.
Alice Terry, former Silent Film blond beauty became the first woman in Rudolph Valentino’s life Thursday to announce he was no Romeo to her. The ex-actress filed a $750,000 libel suit charing the recent movie “Valentino” pictures her having a clandestine love affair with the slick haired sheik. But she says, when Rudy was her leading man back in the days of the flickers and quivering piano she never gave him a second thought. “Valentino? Why he was a good-looking man and a very nice fellow but that’s all” she shrugged. “I never had any interest in him”. He didnt look like a great lover at all, and it never occured to us that worked with him that he’d be known as that. “No body thought about him in those days as a great lover. In fact, it wasn’t until after he died that he got that reputation”. Miss Terry was the star of Valentino’s first movie, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” directed by her husband Rex Ingram. Rex Ingram died last year.
Rudolph Valentino has been gone almost 18 years and I am still being asked: What was it like being Rudolph Valentino? Every famous person more or less the victim of his own legend and none more so that Rudolph Valentino who came to be called “The Sheik” and Rudy hated that tag, especially after it became a byword for what is known as wolfing today. Valentino’s outstanding characteristic when away from the camera was shyness. He hated dancing for that reason. His career with Bonnie Glass and later Joan Sawyer, doing ballroom dances, brought him too close to his audience. He was an eternal boy but understood his capabilities. He knew he registered best in romantic roles. He was a failure when he departed from them, although he was persuaded to do so more than once. Valentino was practically a chain smoker. He drank red wines, loved good food, ate voraciously, cooked well and liked to cook. He appeared almost ordinary in golf or business clothes; was superb in anything approximating a costume such as riding clothes, fencing apparel, or lounging robes. Kept a large library of books with costume plates which he studied religiously. Remainder of his library was distinguished with rare volumes mostly in foreign languages which he understood. He hated sets of books and never bought them. Al Jolson was instrumental in bringing Valentino to Los Angeles. Norman Kerry who was a life-long friend, helped him over tough days. Rudy was hopelessly extravagant and died broke. He bought a Mercer with his first permanent salary of $125 a week spent most of it on repairs. Later cars were Voisins and Isotta Frashchini’s. He loved machinery and had a workshop in his garage. Once took his car apart and put it together again. Was a typical small boy in this respect. His most enduring business friendship was with Joseph Schenck of Fox Studios for whom he made “Son of the Sheik” and “The Eagle” two of his greatest successes. Valentino attributed much of this to his ability and judgement. Valentino danced in Gauman prologue’s before he made good in his movies. Mae Murray gave him his first chance and they were always good friends. He was deeply interested in supernatural things during his marriage to Natacha Rambova – chiefly automatic writing. Had no small superstitions. He never permitted anyone, even his wife to see him disheveled. He had no shabby, comfortable old clothes. Spent a fortune on his wardrobe which was always new. Kept himself in superb physical condition result of two disappointments. As a boy he was turned down by the Royal Naval Academy because he lacked one inch in chest expansion. Air Force turned him down in World War I because of defective vision. Physical routine included sparring with Gene Delmont and Jack Dempsey, who was a good friend. Loved horses a white Arabian Stallion Ramadan, was his favorite. A Harlequin Great Dane, Doberman Pincher, and a Celtic Wolfhound, were all with him constantly as was a black cocker spaniel given to him by the Mayor of San Francisco at the time. He was sincere about his trade as an actor. But he had problems trying to find what he felt was his greatest goal his own family.