But for Paul Rudolph, Jr., Hollywood came looking for him, transforming him into the most famous pair of hands in Woodhaven.
Rudolph is the proprietor of NF Walker Funeral Home two blocks south of Jamaica Avenue on 80th Street. Walker Funeral Home was established in 1899, making it one of a small handful of businesses in our community passing the 100-year mark and operating in three different centuries.
Rudolph is active in the community and associated with several organizations. He has worked with the Kiwanis and serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.
Rudolph is also a familiar face at our Holiday Tree lighting ceremony each year, and it has become a tradition that he leads the neighborhood children in a performance of – what else? – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
At one time there were a dozen or more funeral homes in Woodhaven, including Kaiser & Koos and Walsh & LaBella, but today NF Walker Funeral Home stands alone, meaning that on most days Rudolph is a very busy man. But when Hollywood came calling, he couldn’t resist.
“They were shooting a scene for Billions, which just finished its fourth season on Showtime,” Rudolph explained. “They were looking for a funeral director.”
The scene in question opens the episode titled “A Proper Sendoff,” and shows the body of “Black Jack” Foley being prepared for his funeral.
“The guy was in a casket and I had to dress him and then they close the casket,” Rudolph said. “It wasn’t the real actor who plays the part, but a stand-in.
“It was only about 30 seconds on screen, but it took most of the day to film,” he added. “There was a lot of waiting around for things to happen.”
Before showing up on set, Rudolph had to get cleaned up a bit.
“They sent me for a manicure because my hands were going to be very visible on screen.”
When Paul reached the set he noticed something wrong with the setup immediately.
“They were dressing the guy in the casket, which isn’t how it's done,” he said. “You have to dress him first and then put him in the casket. I told them, but they weren’t thrilled with that idea. In the end, they got around that by doing a close up.”
After the body is dressed, you see the funeral director closing the casket but that’s not Paul.
“Because I’m not a member of SAG they had to hire an actor to play the funeral director, but those are definitely my hands you see in the close up.”
The Rudolph family was excited and anxious to see the episode, though his seven-year old son Owen was a little confused.
“He kept asking me, ‘Your hands are going to be on TV? Why?’” Rudolph said. “He thought it was kind of funny.”
On April 14, the family gathered around the television set and watched the episode. Within a few seconds, it was over.
“It’s amazing, all that crew, all that time spent, and it’s just a quick little scene, over in 30 seconds,” Rudolph said.
Afterwards, he took a little bit of good-natured ribbing from friends, some of whom compared him to George Costanza, who did a short stint as a hand model in one episode of Seinfeld until his career was derailed by a hot iron.
Should something similar happen to Paul’s famous hands, at least he’ll have a good career to fall back on.
NF Walker Funeral Home’s services are affordable and you can also arrange direct cremations. They are also adept at handling funeral services from many different cultures and religions – Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. You can call Rudolph at (718) 296-4343 or email him with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.