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Allstate Recovers Long-Lost Video of Father For Emotional Wedding Gift

Every since Guisto Patinella, passed away, his children have been longing to hear his voice and see him again. The family spoke of his appearance in a commercial for insurance provider Allstate in the 1970s and even had the check as proof. But being that the commercial aired in the days before VCRs, it was a little difficult for anyone to actually watch the long lost video footage… until now.

Patinella’s daughter, Gina Witt, explained that her father filmed the commercial three years before she was born, the year before he met her mom. Witt recalled the stories of her mother sitting through many hockey games on Sundays to see the commercial appear during the break. The rest of the family, however, never managed to see the Allstate ad.

Gina Witt

How Patinella, a science teacher in Kankakee, Illinois, end up in a nationwide commercial at all? In 1971, he was rear-ended by another vehicle while giving some of his students a lift to school. He was so satisfied with Allstate’s handling of his insurance claim that he wound up being featured in one of the company’s customer testimonial commercials.

Throughout the years, the commercial became the subject of family lore, particularly after Patinella past away from cancer in 1994.

“He had a photo of himself on a TV set… he saved the letter that came with his royalty check and put it in a scrapbook,” Witt said. “After he died, we’d talk about it a couple times a year: ‘We should track that down.’ But then we’re busy and it never happens.”


Gina Witt

That was until Witt decided to make the commercial a wedding gift for her brother Dave.

Her older brother had walked her down the aisle and led the first dance at her wedding in their father’s absence.

After Witt contacted Allstate, it took the company six weeks to look through their film reels from 1971 and finally track down the footage. The insurance provider’s team later attended Dave’s rehearsal dinner to film his emotional reaction to the commercial, which had been lost for 46 years.

“He looked at me and kept saying, ‘Is this real?” Witt recalled. “We’re Italian, so we keep those emotions pretty close to the surface… He was just blown away.”

She added that  “There’s nothing that compares to being able to hear somebody and watch them move. I know it’s just a ghost, but it’s a really good ghost. It’s more than we had before.”

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