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