After passing away nearly four decades ago, Gaetano Alberto “Guy” Lombardo is still causing quite a stir – at least where his belongings are concerned. The former Canadian-American bandleader and violinist sold between 100 and 300 million phonograph records during his lifetime along with his three brothers Carmen, Lebert and Victor. The band’s career spanned over fifty years. Guy Lombardo’s legacy remains locked in two self storage units in Fort Myers, FL where they have been kept since his death in 1977.
Descendants of the talented and legendary orchestra leader have been embroiled in a legal battle about what to do with his belongings for several years. Some family members want to place the items on loan to a museum or any other place that would care for them and put them on public display. However, the disagreement lies in exactly which place should house the 100 manila envelopes that contain original band orchestrations handwritten by Carmen Lombardo, several reels of 16-millimeter film with episodes of the band’s television shown which aired in the 1950s and around 40 boxes of 35-millimilter film reels. The items undoubtedly have significant historical value and the decision on where they should be placed is not an easy one for the Lombardo family.
Another point of contention is which country the items should have their final home – the U.S., where Lombardo spent most of his career, or Canada, where he was born in 1902. Guy’s niece Gina Lombardo has stated that it is a very difficult decision. Creative director of BlueMoon Productions in Toronto believes there should be a documentary of the dilemma that has occurred about where to place the belongings of such a historical figure.
The suggestion has also been made to archive the items, create an inventory to keep track of them and then put them on public display in rotation. The biggest issue so far has been that there is not a place large enough that would adequately house all the items, except for self storage. However, having them locked in self storage units does not allow the public to enjoy and appreciate the legend that was Guy Lombardo and “The Royal Canadians”.
Despite the difficulty in finding a place for Guy’s legacy, Gina Lombardo remains hopeful that the family will be able to come to a decision soon. She has stated that several organizations have gotten in touch with her. People have also reached out to her to share their memories of Guy Lombardo as well. An image preservation organization in Anchorage, Alaska has also reached out to the family. Andrew Whitmore, who worked as a volunteer film archivist for the Library of Congress spent time copying nearly all the episodes of Lombardo’s TV show and is highly interested in working with the Lombardo family to find a place to keep the items. Wherever Guy’s treasures end up, the family is certainly grateful that self storage units were able to house the items while they try to make up their minds.