I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of George London. In the early 1940s, we were both members of a local opera company called the American Opera Company. He was the leading basso, and I was in the chorus. The company consisted mainly of young talented singers who needed the experience and exposure. The founder and artistic director was George Houston, a well known actor and singer, and the musical director was Dr. Hugo Strelitzer. We rehearsed in the auditorium of Fairfax High School.
I remember George London, then known as George Burnson, as a very serious and dedicated artist, a perfectionist. He already possessed that big resonant voice that would bring him fame.
The leading tenor was a brilliant youg singer named Joe Sullivan, who later became Brian Sullivan of the Metropolitan Opera Co.
The American Opera Company was in existence only about two years and was mildly successful. It broke up when George Houston collapsed with a heart attack on a city street, was thought to be drunk and tossed into the drunk cell, where he died. Many years later, Brian Sullivan drowned in an accident. George London's tragic life and death was the finale.