Click heading above to hear a 1971 interview with Rosa Rio, who is seen below at the gold and ivory organ in Brooklyn's Fox Theatre where she was the house organist in 1933-34. (The Fox was demolished in 1971.)
Rosa Rio, who will be 107 years old in June, has been the organist at Florida's palatial Tampa Theatre since 1996. She began her career in 1911 as a pianist with silent movies. On radio, during the 1930s to the 1950s, she provided the music for Bob and Ray, Cavalcade of America, Ethel and Albert, The Shadow and other programs. In some cases, such as Bob and Ray and Lorenzo Jones, these programs would be in adjacent timeslots. In this 1942 photo, she is running to get from one NBC radio program to another.
Tampa Theatre interior
Kurt Loft captured the magic of the Tampa Theatre in his 2007 article for the Tampa Tribune:
Tampa rightly takes pride in its prize in the heart of downtown, a 1,450-seat theater built more than 80 years ago and now on the National Register of Historic Places. Nothing like it exists here, a mixed-breed of Italian Renaissance, Byzantine, Mediterranean, Spanish, Greek Revival and English Tudor. Gleaming marble floors and palazzo tile add touches of regal weight. Defending the premises are mythological figures standing in alcoves around the proscenium, and exotic beasts, gargoyles and birds hide among darkened nooks and crannies. On any given night the Mighty Wurlitzer organ - a staple during the age of silent film - pops up through the center of the stage. Designed by architect John Eberson and built for $1.2 million, the theater was Tampa's first "air-cooled" building when it opened on Oct. 15, 1926, featuring the silent film "Ace of Cads" for 25 cents.
Wow! I didn't even know she was still alive! Saw her several times in the seventies doing organ for silent film revivals and there were times I watched her more than the show! I had an aunt who lived to age 105 last year and was still getting around fairly well so more power to Ms. Rio!