Spotlight King: Part 1

The following was written for Papyrus, the newsletter of the Egyptian Theatre Foundation in Ogden, Utah. Written by foundation board member Van Summerill in 2002:

Hobnobbing with the Stars by Van Summerill

David S. King’s life was the sort from which movies are made…

For one thing, King rubbed shoulders with Hollywood personalities, who affectionately knew him- as did most folks- by his middle name: Spotlight.

Although King passed away more than 20 years ago, Jim Stavrakakis remembers him well. Stavrakakis, a longtime Egyptian Theatre Foundation board member, was an Adults in Aging Services agent for Utah State Social Services. Through his work, he crossed paths with King many times over the years. Stavrakakis recently reminisced about some of Spotlight King’s intriguing adventures.

One story is how he came to be named David Spotlight King.

Some 80 years ago-in a tobacco patch shack in the backwoods of Kentucky (on the proverbial stormy night) – a doctor assisted a young woman give birth to a son.

There was no electricity in that dark, remote shanty. The baby entered the world under the illumination of a flashlight. From those joyful first moments, the child was known as the spotlight baby. Subsequently, Spotlight became his christened middle name.

By the late 1940s, King lived in Ogden, employed as a waiter on the famous Super Chief passenger train. He worked the Ogden-to-Los Angeles run.

Even when not working, King could be seen all over town wearing his familiar railroad cap, white jacket and striped pants.

Back then, the main means of travel was by rail, and many movie personalities came through Ogden by train, traveling to and from Southern California.

Spotlight didn’t think twice about asking the likes of Judy Garland, Errol Flynn, Ava Gardner or George Burns for autographs. But it wasn’t just their signatures he requested: He required a personal acknowledgment, as well, all written on a photo from each star.

…to be continued next week.