June 2nd, 2008

carole lombard 02
  • vp19

History ablaze

Universal Pictures, shown here in the mid-1930s (at about the same time Carole Lombard made "Love Before Breakfast" and "My Man Godfrey" on the lot), suffered a major fire early Sunday that damaged or destroyed a few of its vaunted streetscape locations, at least one soundstage -- and one of the company's vaults.

Universal officials emphasized that while the studio's video library suffered damage, no film negatives were stored there and "nothing irreplaceable was lost." (Note that Universal owns the rights to several hundred pre-1948 Paramount films, which includes much of Lombard's work there.) So the effect may be minimal from a video/film perspective...but in terms of recorded sound, the story may unfortunately be far different.

According to deadlinehollywooddaily.com, a respected site for entertainment industry news, Universal Music -- a separate firm, though part of the Vivendi umbrella of companies -- rented part of the vault to store original masters of its music, including thousands of recordings on labels such as Decca (arguably America's dominant label from the mid-1930s up to the early 1950s), ABC and others. Among the acts potentially affected are Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and...

...Billie Holiday. "Good Morning Heartache" indeed.
  • Current Mood
    sad sad