Coronavirus News: Brooklyn man who made Oscar shine dies from COVID-19

BROOKLYN, New York -- The grim statistics about how many have died due to the coronavirus cannot quite describe the toll of this disease because behind those numbers are tens of thousands of individual stories. So many of us have lost loved ones, and many more of us now know someone who died. This is a remembrance of one man I met covering the Oscars.

When it comes to The Academy Awards, you may not know that the trophies given out on the stage of The Dolby Theater in Hollywood are finished in Brooklyn.

That's where we met Stephen Candiloro Jr. He wasn't a household name, but he was for sure a master of his craft, and he had a crucial part to play: giving Oscar his trademark glow.

The plating of the statuette is done in stages.

"It's made of bronze then cleaned and coated with copper, nickel and gold. So, three separate layers," Candiloro explained to me in 2017.

The 24kt gold is a special Laser Gold which is three times harder than normal.

Candiloro's pride in this process was evident, and nobody did it better.

"I think it was the attention to detail," said his boss of 40 years, Dave Epner.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: How the Oscars is made
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Sandy Kenyon goes behind the scenes with Dave Epner to discuss the process of making Oscar statues.



Candiloro was known as 'J.R.'-which was short for 'Junior' because he had the same name as his father. Both worked at Epner Technology in Williamsburg with Epner telling me, "even though he was so dedicated to his job, the family came first."

J.R. was a loving husband, a devoted father of four, and a grandfather. In April, J.R. seemed to be recovering from COVID-19 and even made plans to return to work when he lost his life.

At work he was always willing to teach others.

"It was his nature to educate and share and that's what saved our company after his passing because all the people trained by him stepped-up," Epner said.

It's a fitting legacy for a man called, "an industry legend," by his peers in the plating business.

Epner Technology is known for its work with NASA on James Webb Space Telescope among other projects.

Candiloro "worked on some of the most exotic space programs our country has ever put up," notes Dave Epner, but The Oscars were his "pride & joy.'

When The Oscars came-in, that was his focus."

I asked him once, "J.R. What does this mean to you?". He replied simply, "A lot!"

WATCH THE SERIES: EYEWITNESS TO A PANDEMIC (Episode 6 below)
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Suddenly, the brutal death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis filled the streets of a nation with rage and sorrow. New York was no different. Protesters put the fear of the virus aside and took to the streets by the thousands. Abandoning the safety and comfort of social distance, to demand social change.


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