May 3, 2006

Tejano music pioneer Rosita dies at 88

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Tejano music pioneer Rosita
Fernandez, who was better known simply as "Rosita" and was one
of the first Mexican-American entertainers to appear on U.S.
national television, has died at the age of 88, her family said
on Wednesday.

Fernandez headlined several national radio shows out of San
Antonio in the 1930s, recorded hundreds of songs and was a
regular on television in the 1950s performing on programs such
as the Ed Sullivan Show.

She also appeared in films, including John Wayne's "The
Alamo" in 1960.

One of 16 children of an officer in the Mexican Army, she
was born in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey in 1918
during the Mexican revolution.

Her family moved to Laredo, Texas, then to San Antonio
where, at age of 8, she began singing with her uncles in a
family group called the "Trio San Miguel."

She sang at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration, for Pope
John Paul when he visited San Antonio in 1987 and was a
favorite of President Lyndon Johnson and first lady Lady Bird
Johnson, whom she entertained often at barbecues on their ranch
in the Texas Hill country.

Mrs. Johnson called her "San Antonio's First Lady of Song."

A bridge over the San Antonio River in downtown San Antonio
is named "Rosita's Bridge" in her honor.

Her family said Fernandez had been in ill health the past
year and died on Tuesday in a San Antonio hospice.