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Bandleader Guy Lombardo poses with New Year's decorations in this 1976 file photo. The famed orchestra leader, whose rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" became a holiday mainstay, gave his final televised New Year's performance on that night, as his band helped bring in 1977.
Guy Lombardo's treasure trove still hasn't found a home.
It's been nearly a year since a southwest Florida newspaper wrote about a treasure trove of items belonging to the late big band leader, languishing for about 40 years in two South Fort Myers storage units.
The band was famous for its New Year's Eve tunes and the midnight ball drop in Times Square. Lombardo earned the nickname "Mr. New Year's Eve." The band brought in the New Year from 1929 to 1977 with the signature song, "Auld Lang Syne."
The News-Press of Fort Myers reports that the descendants of Lombardo family, who live in Fort Myers and on Sanibel Island, wanted to see the items on loan to a place that would care for them as archives and display them to the public.
Initial contact between some interested groups and the Lombardos sputtered out. Family members can't pursue the search full time because of work and other obligations.
Other obstacles include lack of a focused plan on what to do with the items, how they should be archived, what legal arrangements need to be made and where the money will come from.
"It's very difficult,'' said Gina Lombardo of Fort Myers, who is Guy Lombardo's niece. People or entities she's talked with don't have enough space for the items, and the family doesn't know whether they should be separated, she said.
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians was a partnership band between four brothers, Guy, Carmen, Victor and Lebert Lombardo. Carmen was the songwriter, penning many of their hits. He also created the orchestra arrangements and sang. Lebert played trumpet.
Baby Boomers will have memories of the band, whether their first encounter was dancing to their music or hearing it in their parents' or grandparents' homes.
After Guy Lombardo's death in 1977, the legacy and rights to the orchestra passed from brother to brother. Lebert, the last remaining brother, died on Sanibel in 1993. All music, memorabilia and rights to the orchestra passed to Lebert Lombardo's children, Gina; Elizabeth Lombardo of Fort Myers; and Carmen Lombardo of Sanibel.
None of the siblings are in the music business. Gina Lombardo has spearheaded the move to find a home for the items.
They include at least 100 manila envelopes stuffed with original band orchestrations handwritten by Carmen Lombardo; at least 40 boxes of reels of 35-millimeter films, plus many loose, large reels of 16-millimeter films of episodes of the band's 1950s TV show.
But most people who contact her about the items are looking for memorabilia such as objects and awards, Gina Lombardo said.