THIS MONTH IN LONDON HISTORY library of historic London events on a month by month basis
DIG AROUND THE ARCHIVES listing of website archives by subject
LINKS TO LONDON HISTORY list of other website with a London Ontario Canada heritage theme
HOME PAGE for Doty Docs
ABOUT DOTY DOCS information on the company and its owner Chirstopher Doty
CONTACT US codty@odyssey.on.ca
LOMBARDO WING website dedicated to the hometown roots of bandleader Guy Lombardo
grand theatre wing
hangings of london
 

 

Guy Lombardo
on Film
Despite the band's success on radio, television and stage, Hollywood stardom eluded Guy and His Royal Canadians. Like many band leaders, Guy probably found it difficult to act on camera without being able to respond to a live audience, which may explain why his 1950s television show was set in a ballroom.

 

 


Rambling 'Round Radio Row
Warner Brothers/Vitaphone, 1932

The fourth in a series of musical shorts designed to capitalize on the popularity of early 1930s radio stars. All four Lombardo brothers appear as themselves along with bandleaders Howard Lanin and William Hall and child star "Baby" Rose Marie. Directed by Jerry Wald who would later become one of Warner Brother's top producers.

Many Happy Returns
Paramount, 1934

First and easily the best of Lombardo's feature films co-stars him with George Burns and Gracie Allen. In one outrageous scene, The Royal Canadians accompany harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler - though it's Duke Ellington's orchestra you hear on the soundtrack. Despite its meagre script, the film was held over when it played in Lombardo's hometown.

Stagedoor Canteen
United Artists, 1943

Wartime grab bag of Hollywood stars and orchestras manages to shoehorn the Lombardo band in for one number: Sleep, Baby, Sleep. At one point a hyperactive bobbysoxer grabs the baton from Guy and tries to make the boys swing. It doesn't work.

No Leave, No Love
MGM, 1946

Last and least of Lombardo's films from the Golden Age of Hollywood was a notorious flop in its day. Musical numbers include the strangely-titled Love on a Greyhound Bus.

Real Gone Woody
Universal, 1954

Above-average Woody Woodpecker cartoon has the gang jitterbugging at a 1950s malt shop when the jukebox starts playing that familiar Lombardo sax section - on a square record. Buzz Buzzard promptly smashes the disc to pieces. Shame on him.

The Phynx
Warner Brothers, 1970

President Richard Nixon once commented that life would be great if Americans could dance to Guy Lombardo when the Vietnam war was over. Such endorsements didn't boost Lombardo's stock with hippies - and neither did this film. Dreadful spy spoof inspired by the Monkeys' television show is about a group of Communists trying to kidnap America's greatest entertainers. Guy is one of them - even though his group is called The Royal Canadians - duh! Hard to find and deservedly so.

Miscellany

Mr. Bug Goes to Town
Paramount, 1941

Under rated animated feature from the Max Fleischer studio about life in the insect kingdom predates A Bug's Life by more than 50 years. Kenny Gardner, who would go on to become a Lombardo vocalist and brother-in-law, provides the voice of Dick, a songwriter who pens the number "We're the Couple in the Castle" which saves the day. Also released under the title Hoppity Goes to Town.

D.O.A.
United Artists, 1950

Nail-biting thriller about a businessman (Edmond O'Brien) who has been given a slow-acting poison and has just a few hours to find his own murderer. The bartender (Peter Leeds) who unintentionally serves O'Brien the lethal cocktail goes on about how Guy Lombardo is his favourite musician. If he paid more attention to his job he wouldn't keep losing customers like that.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Universal, 1998
The cinematic equivalent of a barf bag features Johnny Depp as journalist Hunter S. Thompson cruising through Nevada circa 1971 with more coke in him than a vending machine. At one point his attorney, Dr. Gonza, suggests they take in Guy Lombardo at the Tropicana. "Why should I pay my hard-earned dollars to watch a ****ing corpse?" Depp replies. Say no to drugs, kids.

The City by the Sea
Warner Brothers, 2002

Crime drama starring Robert DeNiro and Frances McDormand opens with Carmen Lombardo crooning the 1935 hit "Red Sails in the Sunset." Perhaps the fact that the film is partially set in Long Beach (a long-time Lombardo residence) had something to do with the record selection.