Rich Firato is pictured Jan. 24 in the Sir Francis Drake room of his authentic pirate’s cove at his east Morgan Hill home. Photo: Tarmo Hannula

Rich Firato has been known as Morgan Hill’s “benevolent pirate” for many years. He has opened his authentic backyard pirate cove to hundreds of local friends, families, children and community members for charity fundraisers, Halloween parties, private tours and countless other events.

But now, Firato’s backyard pirate’s paradise has been disclosed to international audiences on the latest episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a Disney series hosted by the world-famous actor who starred in such blockbusters as Jurassic Park, The Fly and Independence Day.

Firato’s pirate’s cove—located at his home off Hill Road in east Morgan Hill—was featured on the “Backyards” episode of Goldblum’s show, which is in its second season on Disney Plus. The episode premiered Jan. 19 on Disney’s online streaming service.

“From the palatial to the puny, from the whimsical to the wonderful, so many of us seem to be just obsessed with our backyards,” Goldblum narrates before the camera cuts to the actor’s visit to Firato’s home. “I want to know why so many of us go overboard in our backyards.”

Goldblum then introduces Firato as “Captain Vito”—a character the Morgan Hill resident has adopted over the years—while scenes of the local backyard move across the screen. Footage of a replica 16th-century Spanish galleon, rocky creeks, hidden treasure, skeletons and contemporary weaponry establish the attention to detail and dedication to authenticity that Firato has strived for since starting his backyard creation more than 20 years ago.

“This yard is a menagerie of stimulation. Every inch is used for fun and fantasy,” Goldblum narrates.

Firato and “Fuzzy,” one of his loyal crewmates, implore Goldblum to experience the pirate’s life at the Morgan Hill home by urging him to shoot a replica cannon from the stern of the backyard’s galleon centerpiece. They convince him to try his hand at axe throwing, at which Goldblum failed on numerous attempts before Firato offered him an eye patch, sash and other pirate’s garb that helped the actor finally hit his target.

“A beautiful pirate,” Firato said after a decked-out Goldblum hit his first successful ax shot.

Later in the “Backyards” episode, Goldblum visits a community garden in Oakland and Sequoia National Park, which he termed “America’s backyard.” The episode’s message focuses on the role that one’s backyard can play in fulfilling creative outlets while supplying the benefits of fresh air and open space.

“Whether we use them to relax or to escape from the strains of our busy lives, backyards can become a place to feed our bodies as well as our minds,” Goldblum says in the Jan. 19 episode, which is still streaming on Disney Plus. “The most important thing is, we should never take our priceless green spaces for granted.”

Firato said Goldblum and his show’s crew of about 18 people visited his backyard, known as Morgan’s Cove, on May 1, 2021 to film the segment. He said the international film star carried himself as “just a normal guy.”

“He’s pretty intriguing,” Firato said. “He’s got it so well tuned in, he was just like a normal guy. To me, he was just another guy coming on the ship to be a crewmember.”

Jeff Goldblum, fourth from left, is pictured with Rich and Julie Firato and their crew on May 1, 2021, when the film star stopped in Morgan Hill to shoot a segment of his Disney show at the Firatos’ home. Contributed photo

He doesn’t know exactly how Goldblum’s show found out about Morgan’s Cove. His son, Nick, randomly received a phone call from a Disney casting person, and naturally gave the caller Rich’s contact info.

Shortly thereafter, Rich got a call from the same person, who wanted to know all kinds of details about what Firato and his backyard look like.

He then got more phone calls from the show’s producers, who scheduled a visit before finalizing their decision to send Goldblum to Morgan Hill to shoot the “Backyards” segment.

Firato started building his backyard paradise when he and his family moved into the home about 20 years ago. One day while remodeling the kitchen, one of the workers, known as “Fisherman Doug,” said Firato’s yard had major potential, and suggested a pirate theme.

Firato and his crew started building a captain’s quarters, starting out small. Shortly after the immensely popular Pirates of the Caribbean film series hit theaters in 2003, Firato was inspired to take his backyard to the next level.

“It really opened my mind,” Firato said. “We had to learn how to make it. We just stayed in a pirate theme (and) I just challenged myself to make it more realistic, and it manifested into this pirate village that really looks authentic.”

Scenes from Morgan’s Cove. Photo: Tarmo Hannula

Everything about Morgan’s Cove is based on actual pirate history, particularly that of the 17th century—“the Golden Age of pirates,” Firato said.

And his affinity for pirates doesn’t stop at the backyard. In 2020, Firato published Before the Hurricane, a pirate-themed novel that is for sale on

Firato and his family have owned Firato Janitorial Service for 37 years, and have been heavily involved in the Morgan Hill community. He was a board member for the Chamber of Commerce for several years, and is the former chair of the local Friday Night Music Series.

He said the reception to his appearance on The World According to Jeff Goldblum has been almost overwhelming. His backyard’s website,, has “blown up,” he said, and he has received all kinds of phone calls and emails from people wanting to know more about it.

“I’ve always said, you never know who’s going to come through those gates,” Firato said. “I’m happy how it turned out and I’m thankful I got to do it.”

Scenes from Morgan’s Cove. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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