Famed theater organist Rosa Rio passes at 107
SUN CITY CENTER, FL — Rosa Rio, one of the last surviving theater organists of the silent era (and one of the few who were female), died on May 13 at the age of 107. She practiced her craft in many of the famous movie palaces around the country including the Fox and Paramount theaters in Brooklyn; she later worked for both NBC and ABC, accompanying many of the original soap operas. She was active even as recently as last year, performing at the Tampa Theatre where a memorial will be held June 5.
She was extraordinarily positive, motivated and determined. She was able to seamlessly adapt to changes in the entertainment industry (silent films, talkies, radio, TV, and finally, back to silent films). “I can’t believe that I’ve been so fortunate to have been in so many things that went out and I bounced back,” she said in 2007. Her path was not without challenges. As the only woman in the orchestra pit, she routinely challenged men who considered her to be second fiddle because of her gender. She allayed those stereotypical reactions with talent, charm and a (sometimes bawdy) sense of humor.
Read the full story at the Tampa Theatre website.