Long time political activist finds productive film career

Move over ‘Godfather,’ Now Comes Sister Kathleen and the Don

Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A local political powerhouse is now making his mark in a totally different field of endeavor.

Ralph Perfetto, who was a Bay Ridge Democratic district leader for nearly two decades, has spent the past 15 years amassing film credits – a whopping 53, according to IMDB – and now is branching out again, producing and acting in a TV pilot from a script he himself wrote.

Filming for the microbudget pilot, the first episode of “Sister Kathleen and the Don,” just wrapped up after taking place at a series of local spots – including St. Andrew’s Church on Ridge Boulevard in Bay Ridge, which stands in for the fictional church of St. Alfonso’s.

Perfetto said he wrote the script eight years ago, basing it on a true story of how a relic was stolen from a Catholic church in Brooklyn and returned after pressure from the local mob boss. The episode was written as part one of an eight-part series, and the second episode is “ready to go,” said Perfetto, “if we can pick up a sponsor.”

In the show, Perfetto, who acts under the name Raffaello Perfetto, plays Don Carlo Rizzo, whose niece, Sister Kathleen, a somewhat unconventional nun, is attached to the church from which the relic – in his telling, a golden crucifix – has been filched.

In Perfetto’s story, after the don has put the word out on the street that the relic must be returned, the church’s pastor is told to leave the lights of the church off and the doors unlocked, enabling the surreptitious return of the crucifix by the thieves.

“It’s basically a race between the police and the wise guys as to who gets the crucifix back first,” Perfetto explained.

There is no violence or profanity in the episode, Perfetto said, “Because I had to get it approved by the Brooklyn Diocese” in order to film at St. Andrew’s. Other scenes have been filmed at the 69th Street Pier, at Tomasso’s Restaurant on 86th Street and outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, as well as inside a Brooklyn dining room.

Perfetto said he had worked with most of the other actors in the pilot previously. “I knew who I wanted and what I wanted,” he said.

Perfetto, who spent years as an ombudsman in the city public advocate’s office and was a licensed private investigator among other things, got into acting after he helped out actor Clem Caserta, who counts among his credits the role of Jimmy Whispers in “A Bronx Tale.”

“He said, ‘You belong in pictures,’” Perfetto recalled, and subsequently introduced Perfetto to an agent, who signed him up.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Perfetto

Perfetto’s first part was as a mobster, uncredited, in a 2008 episode of “Law & Order.” He joined the Screen Actors Guild and before long, he had so many roles that he decided to go “totally into acting. I got some really nice roles, working a day, two days, four days, 11 days. How was I going to do investigations?”

Among the productions Perfetto has appeared in are “The Irishman” and the 2017 remake of “Going in Style,” and various TV series including “Law & Order: SVU,” “Daredevil” and “The Good Wife.”

Ralph Perfetto with the soon-to-be-purloined relic inside St. Andrew’s Church.

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