Last of the Silent Film Organists Rosa Rio Dead at 107

 Silent film organist Rosa Rio died today at the age of 107 years. She would have 108 in three weeks! Ms. Rio was still active having made her last appearance at the Tampa Theater  in 2009.  A native of New Orleans she began playing the piano at eight years old. By the time she was ten she had a job at a theater in New Orleans accompanying silent movies.  She eventually moved north and was the organist for the Brooklyn Fox Theater.

Rosa Rio at the Brooklyn Fox (above)

With the advent of sound movies, Rosa moved into radio and worked with people like Bob and Ray. She also worked with Orson Welles on “The Shadow” and the radio show , “The Goldbergs.” She eventually transitioned to TV working on soap operas and other shows.

Since 1996, Rosa made many appearances at the historic Tampa Theatre performing on the mighty Wurlitzer organ for more than 30 silent film presentations including “The Mark of Zorro” which my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend. Here is the New York Times Obit.

Rosa at the Tampa Theater in 2006 (above)


Below is Rosa playing the mighty Wurlitzer at the Tampa Theater

9 comments on “Last of the Silent Film Organists Rosa Rio Dead at 107

  1. Judy says:

    Wow, that is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read. She played the piano/organ for nearly 100 years! Thanks very much for posting this, John.


  2. Sam Juliano says:

    And liveto be 107 too, which is super-rare. But what a lovely pictorial remembrance here John!


  3. Jon says:

    Thank you for this piece. This is a very nice magazine you have here.


  4. […] with live organ accompaniment. The Tampa Theater was practically the home for the late organist Rosa Rio who passed away earlier this year at the age of 107!  […]


  5. V.E.G. says:

    At the time Rosa Rio was 50, Patricia Travers drops out of sight.


  6. V.E.G. says:

    Rosa Rio at one time never told her age. She said at the time she is 105. There is another one like that: Herbert Benton “Ben” Connor, a descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte through his brother, Joseph. Connor never tells his age until he died at age 83, 12 days shy of 84 years.


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