Rare items belonging to legendary orchestra leader Guy Lombardo have been locked inside two self-storage units in South Fort Myers, Fla., for about 40 years even though his family would like the items to be archived and put on public display. The family has been unable to agree on or find a suitable person or entity to care for the collection, which includes about 100 manila envelopes stuffed with original band orchestrations handwritten by Lombardo’s brother Carmen; about 40 boxes of 35-millimeter film reels; and several large reels of 16-millimeter film containing episodes of the band’s television show, which aired in the 1950s.
Before Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest, the man most associated with New Year’s Eve celebrations was Lombardo, who formed a band partnership with his three brothers, Carmen, Victor and Lebert. Earning the nickname “Mr. New Year’s Eve,” Lombardo became synonymous with the holiday when the orchestra entertained radio and television audiences annually between 1928 and 1977. The band first appeared on radio in 1928 and on television beginning in 1956. Lombardo is credited with popularizing “Auld Lang Syne” as the New Year’s signature tune.
After Lombardo’s death in 1977, the legacy and rights to the orchestra’s music and memorabilia passed from brother to brother, according to the source. The last surviving brother, Lebert, died in 1993. At that time, all rights to the orchestra were passed on to Lebert’s three children, none of whom are in the music business.
Lebert’s daughter, Gina Lombardo, has spearheaded efforts to find a new home for the storage items but said the process has been “difficult.” Discussions between interested parties and the family have stalled, the source reported.
Part of the problem has been determining if the items should remain together as an archived collection or separated, Gina said. There has been some discussion about putting the items on loan to a university, but the family is unsure if they should go to a academic institution in the United States or Canada. Guy Lombardo was born in London, Ontario, but became a U.S. citizen in 1938.
Most of the people who have contacted Gina Lombardo about the items are primarily interested in typical celebrity memorabilia like awards, she said.