Everything's Coming Up Rosa
One of the bay area's true treasures is a petite woman with an indelible sense of humor, ongoing musical prowess and almost 90 years in show business. Rosa Rio will bring new life to the restored pipe organ at St. Petersburg's Palladium Theater during a film and song fest this Saturday.
Rosa grew up in Louisiana 'a good Southern girl.' Her family did not approve of her dream to be in show business.
She shared details about her life as she sat at the Tampa Theater's Mighty Wurlitzer Organ more than two years ago. She'd just done an interview with NPR's Scott Simon. Telling stories of what it was like to work with a 'young' Orson Wells.
Rosa's musical career started when she was 12. Tired of playing music for free at church, she accepted an offer to play piano for a silent film at a local movie house. She was paid a nickel.
'The bug got me,' Rosa said. 'But, it was not the thing for young women.'
Yet, she preserved in what was and she says still is a male dominated business. The classically trained musician started playing organ for silent films before auditioning and landing a job with NBC radio where she worked for 23 years.
She moved from radio to TV playing music for the soap opera 'As The World Turns.' But, her first love has always been the theater organ. She's scored more than 300 silent films that are now on video.
Rosa Rio is 106 years old and still playing and living her theme song 'Everything is Coming Up Rosa.'
©2015 WUSF. All rights reserved.