Ann De Prospo
Ann De Prospo, 99, Hillcrest Apartments, Hollidaysburg, formerly of New York City and North East, Md., died Sunday at the home of her son and daughter-in-law.
She was born in New York City.
Surviving are her son, Dr. Richard De Prospo and wife, Erin Murphy, of Hollidaysburg; four grandchildren: Amy Davlin and Rebecca, Nathan and Molly De Prospo; a great-grandson, Samuel Davlin; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Chris De Prospo, in 2000; and her six siblings.
Raised during the Depression by her late aunt who bought her a piano, Ann became a child prodigy who performed Mozart concertos with the NBC Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. She was introduced to the early entertainment entrepreneur Major Bowes in 1933 when she was 11 years old and began performing on his Sunday radio show at Manhattan’s Capitol Theater. In a 2011 radio interview on WRTA in Altoona, she recalled playing Chopin preludes and “The Flight of the Bumble Bee” on the popular weekly show.
After Hunter College, where she wrote the music for college variety shows, Ann went back to work for Major Bowes, touring the U.S., Canada and Mexico for several years as musical director and conductor of the “All-Girl Orchestra” for Bowes’ “The Original Amateur Hour.” During that time, she worked with such legends as Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. Once at a speakeasy, she talked back to Lucky Luciano, and he slapped her in the face.
Ann continued performing and teaching piano throughout her married life and performed in such notable venues as Carnegie Hall. As recently as her late 70s, she was participating in Master classes under Professor Ward Deveny at the Yale University School of Music. More recently, she performed for the Penn State Altoona Advisory Board and for fellow residents in the Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries community, where she lived independently until she died.
During her final hours, she was surrounded by family while her son played her favorite songs on the Steinway piano at her bedside.
Services will be private. She will be interred alongside her late husband at North East Methodist Cemetery in North East, Md.