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Monday, March 25, 2019

R.I.P. Joe Pilato aka. Captain Rhodes

I’m very saddened by the news of the passing of actor Joe Pilato. I’ve had the chance to meet him on a couple of occasions and he was the nicest guy. Now I know you hear that a lot when someone dies but with Mr. Pilato it was true. I thought that I’d tell you my own personal story of meeting the man and the kindness that he showed me.

Many years ago, I attended a convention in Pittsburgh that had most of the cast from Day of the Dead in attendance, including Mr. Pilato. It was a busy show and the actors were doing a brisk business with autographs and pictures. I got in line and got my poster signed by him and then asked if he would do a quick bumper for the Podcast I was working on at the time. For everyone else that meant something like “Hey this is <insert name here> and you are listening to the <insert podcast name here>”. I was always super appreciative of them doing that for us. I mean it was just neat to have and it meant a lot.

Mr. Pilato sat there for a minute looking at me, the wheels turning in his head. I thought to myself “uh oh” and prepared for the worst. He then grabbed a pen and scrap paper and started asking me questions. Like the name of the show and who were the hosts. Asking for my recorder he sat it on the table and proceeded to do “the speech” from Day of the Dead. You know the one… monkey farm and all. Only he customized it using the shows name and went all out. I’m standing there stunned as he finished and look up at me saying, “Was that okay I can do it again.” He was worried that we might be disappointed with it…

This is me right after he recorded the bump... still amazed
That is all you need to know about Joe Pilato and how he treated the fans right there. Though he would double down later that weekend when he was the one looking down from the balcony at the Monroeville Mall firing up the crowd after the zombie walk. For those uninformed to the Romero Zombie Universe Pilato was in Day of the Dead and while he had a small part in Dawn it was mostly cut. But he was still the guy who was up there leading the crowd at the shooting location of Dawn of the Dead. Every show I ever saw him at he was having a blast and because of that so were the fans. I go to a lot of shows and many actors clearly consider it work, which I suppose it is. But Pilato was one of those rare guys who cared about the people showing up and walking thru the doors.

I know that there are people out there who will be memorializing Mr. Pilato, many of whom actually knew the man. For me I just wanted to share that one little story where he made this horror nerd very happy. In fact, when I played it for the other guys, we were all shocked by how cool it was. I always liked Day of the Dead and thought Pilato was good in it, but it was that day that he made me a real fan. There aren’t enough people in the world that understand what just a second or two of kindness can do for others.

Let me finish with this. If you are a fan of an actor or movie and get the chance to meet those who worked on it do so. Not only are you likely to make a great memory for yourself I firmly believe that it helps them to see and hear from the fans. Let them know how much you appreciate their work and maybe we will continue to get more. Rest in Peace Captain Rhodes and have fun running that Monkey Farm.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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