And he was ok with that.
As a teenager in the 1950s Palito, who was born Reynaldo Hipolito, took job as a dishwasher in a restaurant located beside a moviehouse. Being a hangout of movie-stars, he was soon discovered and cast in straight action films. But because of his shocking thinness, he was groomed as a comedian.
Since the early 70’s he appeared in over 70 movies. He started off as simply a walk on, or as a character actor, cast as someone named either ‘Toothpick’ or ‘Skeleton’ but eventually he got starring roles, especially in spoofs of American movies.
His biggest money makers were the parodies of American action films, such as Rambuto,a Rambo spoof, the title being a pun of the local word buto which means “bone”, again to capitalize on his being “thin-boned”, and a James Bond spoof, James Bone, where he plays an emaciated version of the secret agent.
He would also been known as a star in a lot of kitsch horror films as a zombie/corpse. His sunken hollow eyes and reed-thin body, while not aesthetically-pleasing in the popular sense, fit the corpse-like demeanor that local filmmakers love to utilize.
Palito laid low from Philippine cinema in the 90’s, only occasionally playing bit parts, like in the 1992 film Home Along The River, a send-up of the popular Home Alone franchise.
In 2004, a TV real-life drama series, Will You Ever Remember, was made, focusing on Palito’s life story as a survivor of the Japanese occupation during World War II and his heyday as a slapstick comedian during the 1970s and 1980s. It was critically acclaimed but not appealing to audiences who wanted to see Palito as a funnyman.
Palito’s last movie project was an independent film in 2005 entitled, Enterpool: Senior Citizen in Action.
When the films dried up, Palito’s family sold their house and moved to a smaller place in a low-cost housing subdivision in a poorer section of Manila. There he continued to work, hosting a low-paying job performing a live music show on Tuesday evenings in a small casino in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
Once voted as one of the top ten Filipino comedians of all-time, it was a sad way to go.