Louis Anthony Jannetta was born to parents Concetta and Francesco Jannetta on March 29th, 1928 in Roccamandolfi, Italy. At the tender age of one his father left for Canada and Louis lived with his Mother and sister, grandparents, two aunts and an uncle in a 3 bedroom stone house where he fed the animals, collected wood and fetched water for the family.
Life was hard but happy too with fond memories of being an alter boy, playing in the sun, stomping grapes and riding donkeys bareback. In July of 1935 his Mother told him and his sister Carmella to pack, they were going to Canada to join their father. After a long and uncomfortable voyage they landed at Ellis Island and then travelled by train to Toronto’s Little Italy. Louis was introduced to his father and worked from almost the day he arrived, selling fruit off a cart.
It was the depression and times were tough. At school he was constantly beaten up. With nickels and dimes saved from selling fruit and doing bakery deliveries he’d spend every minute he could in movie theatres, where through the stars of the big screen Louis dreamt about living a different life.
After Grade 8 his parents said it was time to help support the family full time. Lying about his age on June 23rd, 1942, 14 yr. old Louie began his climb to the top of his now infamous career of almost 50 years, in the Venetian Room at the Royal York Hotel. He left the Royal York for a short stint at the Skydome and then in 1994 opened his own restaurant, Louis Jannetta’s Place to rave reviews. After a great run, Louis decided to retire and sold the restaurant in 1999. Married to Corinne for 60 years, Louis has four children, 8 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Loving sports almost as much as movie stars, prompted Louis at a young age to start the Canadian Italian Hockey League. It was highly successful, being televised weekly and with the team touring Europe twice. Louis received numerous awards for his work in the community and was honored at a special dinner by the Italian Business Men’s Association where he was roasted by Wayne Gretsky and friends.
Being such a movie buff, what a thrill it was for Louis to be asked to guest star in a number of TV shows and movies, including a 1987 episode of the popular Canadian crime series Night Heat starring Jeff Wincott. Here he played the part of a mafia boss and was gunned down while eating dinner in a restaurant! His first movie role was the ring announcer in Gladiator Cop in 1995 starring Lorenzo Lamas and James Hong. He repeated this role in the 1999 sequel, G2. Most memorable was working on the movie The Undertaker’s Wedding with Adrien Brody. He played the part of Frederico Caprelli, mafia king pin!
It was a coincidence that most of his life would be spent in the first building he’d seen when he walked out of Union Station at seven years old, The Royal York Hotel. Louis’s life as a busboy then as a waiter, from a Captain to the Maitre D of the Black Knight Room and then as the Maitre D of the Imperial Room has been colorful and exciting. He’s been friend and confidant to hugely famous stars like Marlene Dietrich, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny & Cher and Tony Bennett with many like Tony becoming personal friends. Louis realized his dream of writing a book about his years at the Royal York. “King of the Maitre D’s” brings to life true stories about a lost era of glamour and elegance, laced with scandal and heartache.