Olga Amy, 94, accompanist for 1950s Baltimore TV shows

April 30, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Olga Amy, a pianist who accompanied baton twirlers and teen singers on "The Collegians" and "Candy Corner" variety shows on 1950s Baltimore television, died Tuesday in her sleep at Manor Care in Roland Park. She was 94.

Known by the stage name Pat Deal, she was a well-known figure on the local amateur talent scene for 40 years. She taught voice and piano, was a house pianist for dancing schools and played organ on the television programs, which were two of Baltimore's earliest locally produced shows.

"I remember `The Collegians' as being the most staggering show in the history of Maryland television," said film director John Waters, who spent his Saturday afternoons watching the long parade of accordionists, hula dancers and novelty acts that Mrs. Amy accompanied. "I keep a tape of the shows in my collection."

Born on South Baltimore's Riverside Avenue, the former Olga Gross graduated from St. Mary's Star of the Sea parochial school and, at age 16, Peabody Conservatory. As a young woman, she worked as a secretary at the Procter & Gamble Co. plant in Locust Point.

She began her music teaching in the 1940s and appeared at a number of Baltimore dance academies -- Eloise Tinker's School of Dance in Charles Village, where she accompanied the Tinkerettes, and Lola Oriente's School of Music in Highlandtown.

Mrs. Amy was known throughout the city for her 1950s Saturday afternoon stint at the old WMAR studios at Charles and Baltimore streets. There she played piano and organ for "The Collegians," a live show with T. Oliver Hughes, a Northwest Baltimore lumber merchant, as host.

"The big thing on `The Collegians' was its Book of Memory," said Orem Wahl, a Baltimorean who watched the weekly show. "Four girls would come out and sing a hymn behind a picket fence. Everybody watched it."

Mrs. Amy also played for "Candy Corner," a local children's talent show produced by Bert and Nancy Claster of "Romper Room" fame.

"She was a fabulous accompanist. Everyone came in so nervous, and she made me feel so comfortable the day I sang `On the Good Ship Lollipop'," said Candy Claster, daughter of the late Nancy Claster.

In 1929, she married Edward S. Deal, a city homicide detective. They divorced in 1945. She later married Nelson Amy, a merchant marine captain, who died in 1962.

Mrs. Amy continued teaching after the shows went off the air. She continued to play the piano in her 90s for religious services at Virginia Towers in Towson, where she lived.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11: 30 a.m. May 7 at Immaculate Conception Church, Ware Avenue, Towson.

She is survived by a daughter, Marianita Deal Fitzsimmons of Riderwood; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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