Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rosa Rio

The headline from the Times obit says...well, a lot of it. "Rosa Rio, Organist From Silent Films to Soap Operas, Dies at 107."  Isn't that a great photo?  From 1934.

Great story, too. Born and raised in New Orleans, she wanted to go into show business, but her parents thought it improper for a good Southern girl. They relented to the point of "children's piano teacher" and foolishly let her go to Oberlin. She left Oberlin, however, to go to Eastman (named for George Eastman of Eastman Kodak) where they had a program in silent film accompaniment.

That career, of course, had its ups and downs given the changes in film technology, but I loved this story at the very end of the obit about her time in radio.

Radio of the period was a rough-and-tumble world — a man’s world. Miss Rio gave as good as she got.

As recounted in Leonard Maltin’s book “The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio’s Golden Age” (Dutton, 1997), she was playing a show at NBC one day when the announcer, Dorian St. George, crept up behind her, undid the buttons down the back of her blouse and unhooked her bra. Miss Rio, performing live before a gallery of visitors, could do nothing but play on.

When the music stopped, Mr. St. George stepped up to the microphone to do a commercial. As he intoned plummily with the gallery looking on, Miss Rio stole up behind him, unbuckled his belt, unzipped his fly and neatly dropped his trousers. Then, according to Mr. Maltin’s book, she started on his undershorts.

What happened next is unrecorded.


Apostle In Exile said...

Just think how many lawsuits we could avoid if we implemented this technique today!

Kirstin said...

I love this.