The glory that was once MGM continues to disappear . . . into at least half a dozen dumpsters.
Then again, maybe the documents that had filled file cabinets in the basement of the studio’s old Thalberg Building weren’t so historical after all . . . or were they?
Florence Warner, office manager for Turner Entertainment’s legal department, emphatically maintains they weren’t. That’s why she ordered them tossed.
But other sources, including archivists, maintain that valuable documents--including copies of letters sent by Louis B. Mayer to the top stars of the early ‘30s--may have been inadvertently thrown out.
The toss-out was a result of the complicated transactions that resulted in three companies splitting the various MGM files: Turner Ent., which purchased the MGM film library; MGM/UA, which continues as a production unit, and Lorimar-Telepictures, new owners of the MGM lot.
Warner, it should be noted, worked for MGM for 42 years prior to joining the Turner folks. She says she respects the studio’s past--and wouldn’t destroy historically significant documents. “And these weren’t. They had to do with erecting buildings, and painting buildings, and renting boats and other props. There wasn’t anything having to do with stars or storylines,” she declared.
A passer-by happened upon a dumpster filled with the paperwork. He reportedly scooped up what he could carry and alerted area archivists, including those at UCLA, USC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Concerned phone calls followed to Turner president and chief operating officer Roger Mayer.
“A lot of people didn’t like what happened--that’s true,” admitted Mayer. “But nothing of substantial value was thrown away. . . . To archivists, everything is considered valuable.”
But as one archivist complained to Outtakes, “If something’s going to be tossed, shouldn’t we at least have the chance to look it over?”