Again, from the world of film, the MGM vault fire of 1967. What made this
especially depressing was that up to that point their
silent film holdings were fairly complete.
"London After Midnight" remains the most avidly sought silent feature film
According to James Card, there were three -- count 'em, three -- sizable
vault fires at MOMA during Iris Barry's tenure as head, one
taking away 2/3rds of the collection. They had a complete print of the
Theda Bara "Cleopatra" (1917) which was last shown in 1953;
today, only a 33-second outtake exists of this 3-hour epic.
A 1965 fire wiped out the entire holdings of Westminster Films in
California, a small producer of religious films. I helped to recover
some unique prints of these films in Indiana in the early 2000s during an
ARSC research grant that I was awarded.
A 1963 fire destroyed the holdings, and put out of business, the LA-based
firm of Tempo Records.
Ditto a 1959 fire that "killed" the label 49th State in LA. Malcolm
Rockwell would know more about that one than I do.
Given all of the disasters befall archival holdings of media, I'm surprised
that we have anything at all. But -- we have a lot, and there
are still a lot of neglected collections out there. One thing that seems
standard is that information about film-related disasters is more
readily at hand than those affecting recorded sound, and I think that's due
to the fact that film archivists are far more vocal about such
matters than those concerned with audio. Anyone have an idea as to why we
are so tight-lipped?
David N. "Uncle Dave" Lewis
On Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 9:51 PM, Frank Scott <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I seem to recall that the BBC were ready to destroy the original Monty
> Python masters had not one of the Pythons stepped in to fund the cost of
> Most famously they destroyed the January 1963 performance of the play
> "Madhouse On Castle Street" which included a young Bob Dylan performing
> four songs including what would have been the first television or radio
> performance of "Blowin' In The Wind." The destruction was done in 1968,
> long after Dylan had achieved worldwide fame!
> Frank Scott
> Roots & Rhythm
> P.O. Box 837
> El Cerrito, CA 94530, USA
> [log in to unmask]
> TOLL FREE: 888-ROOTS-66
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of CJB
> Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 05:48 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Disasters at Commercial Archives
> Of course there was the unmitigated disaster of the BBC junking many of
> its archives including whole series of Doctor Who, to say nothing of
> numerous comedy series such as Dads's Army. And their radio archives were
> similarly junked, especially anything to do with the genre of 'folk.'
> All of this was in the 1970s/80s/90s.
> The Beeb even produced radio programmes about its lost archives.
> The scandal is that many 'lost' programmes were home-taped by enthusiasts.
> These are regularly found and offered back to the Beeb.
> Most returns are declined unless they are commercially valuable such as
> Clitheroe Kid, Navy Lark, etc.
> So the programmes then start to appear on various torrent and usenet
> sites. But then the uploaders are served with 'take down' notices - even if
> the Beeb has refused acceptance of 'lost' recordings it doesn't itself have.
> These websites explain more ...