When Frank Orsatti’s nephew, Paul La Grassa contacted the office and asked why Frank Orsatti wasn’t an honorary member, we said, “Good question!”
As Paul pointed out, Frank was a prolific stuntman and one of the original members of Stunts Unlimited. At our next membership meeting the question was put to the group and the general consensus was that it was merely an oversight, Frank left the group years ago in good standing and was well liked and respected by the group and the stunt community as a whole.
The son of St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Ernie Orsatti and opera singer Inez Gorman, Frank was a gifted athlete and was drafted into the Cardinals, but an injury during training put an end to his baseball career. Orsatti subsequently joined the Merchant Marines and worked on freighters for ten years. Frank eventually returned to Los Angeles and began his career as a stuntman in 1968 on the film Planet of the Apes.’ He appeared in dozens of feature films including Rosemary’s Baby, The Poseidon Adventure, The Longest Yard, The Star Chamber, Star Trek V, Lethal Weapon 2 and 3 , Point Break, Maverick, The Presidio and Con Air. Orsatti jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge for the film B.S. I Love You. He worked as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt double in The Terminator and also doubled for Burt Reynolds for nine years.
Frank also worked as a stuntman on hit television shows such as The Streets of San Francisco, The Mod Squad, Barnaby Jones, and Starsky & Hutch. Doing stunts on The Magician in 1973, Frank became friends with Bill Bixby and went to work as the stunt coordinator and the actor’s stunt double in The Incredible Hulk, and directed twelve episodes of the show.
“Not only was Frank Orsatti a good stuntman, he had a BIG career, even directed a series. I am all for naming Frank an Honorary Member of Stunts Unlimited.” – Ronnie Rondell, Co-founder of Stunts Unlimited
“I was very close to Frank, probably closer than anybody. Frank was a real athlete, very talented and he helped a lot of young stunt people get started. He had a great sense of humor. Died too young.” – Charlie Picerni, Sr., SU Member
“Frank Orsatti created a stunt legacy. Not only was he a great director and overall stunt man, he gave so many second unit directors and stunt coordinators their first breaks as stunt performers, myself included. I met Frank when he was looking to double Lou Ferrigno for The Hulk television series. Frank didn’t know me at all, but he thought I looked the part and after he interviewed me and watched me workout, he gave me a shot because he thought I had the ability and integrity to do a good job.Frank was instrumental in my career, not only did he give me my first big shot, which turned out to be a major television hit for five years running, but he showed me the ropes and taught me about everything from location scouting and production meetings to breaking down scripts. Frank helped so many guys, he trained us at Tommy Huff’s place, teaching us about driving and high falls. I saw him give people jobs when they were they were just expecting to hustle him, he would ask if they could hit the ground or whatever he needed and if they said yes, he sent them to wardrobe. Frank was a wonderful mentor and a great friend.”- Manny Perry, SU Member
“Frank Orsatti gave me my big break doubling Patrick Swayze on Renegades, a job that started my career. Frank taught me how to drive and slide corners, he said, ‘Tighten that seatbelt as tight as it will go and drive by the seat of your pants. You gotta be part of the car.’ He helped me so much, I’ll never forget his kindness, I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.” – Norman Howell, SU Member
“He was one of the best and most loyal stunt coordinator and human being that I ever met. Frank helped a lot of people and was responsible for starting so many stunt careers. He was superman, a real hard core dude (he was a Merchant Marine), but also a great actor and one of the nicest guys you could meet – if you went to his house for dinner, and he had all of us over many times, you were there all night telling stories and having a good time.” – John C. Meier, SU Member
“I worked with Frank a lot over the years – I worked for him, he worked for me. Good athlete, good stuntman, GREAT human being.” – Gene LeBell, SU Member
“I first met Frank in the early 70’s when I got in Stunts Unlimited. The 70’s and 80’s was the golden era of Stuntwork in the industry. Stunts Unlimited was the best of the best, Only the best were invited in those days. Frank was part of that early crop that made me want to be part of it. The first job I had for the group was working for Alan Gibbs, Frank was there, Glenn Wilder, Bob Orrison, Jophery Brown and Gary McClarty were also working that day. It was amazing, the camaraderie, the cutting edge rigging, most importantly the talent. After that day I saw Frank do an insane 80’ stairfall in a wheelchair, he, like Gibbs and Wilder were truly what young stunt guys aspired to be. I’ll never forget the last time I saw Frank, it was in 1991 at the Premier of Stone Cold. When the final credits came up somebody sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. My wife Valerie and I looked back, Frank leaned forward and said “You’ve made us proud brother, I loved it”. He was one of the greats that made Stunts Unlimited what it was back in the day.” – Craig Baxley, Sr., Honorary SU Member
“Frank Orsatti was A credit to the industry as well as A good stuntman and Director. Passed way to soon. He is sorely missed.” – Billy Burton, Sr., Honorary SU Member
“I knew Frank before he was in the film industry. A talented, well built, multi sport athlete who as a merchant marine had sailed around the world twice in his teen years. He was instrumental in helping me get my SAG card & soon after introducing me to many others who furthered my stunt career and many others also. He was an absolute blast to work for & with. He was always a gentleman with a great sense of humor & always gracious to me & my entire family. He will be greatly missed & always fondly remembered.” – Tom Lupo, Honorary SU Member
“With great respect and admiration Frank, it’s great to see you back home where you belong. Cheers.” – Gary Davis, Honorary SU Member
So well deserved for sure. When I first got in the business I heard so many stories about him. Then one day I got a call to work on a movie called Blind Fury. There was a big car chase in the movie. That’s when I finally got to meet this man I heard so much about. What a nice sweet humble man. Talent gone to soon I was sad to hear he had passed away.
I am overwhelmed with happiness for my dad for this incredible tribute. I want to thank Paul with all my heart for taking the time to honor his uncle frank. My dad was always my hero, he was loving, goofy, brave and he always had a good heart and was so giving. I miss his incredible stories… he sure lived the life of three men. I have always remained close to my step mommy Julie. My dad is with us and within us in our hearts every single day.. especially when we tell stories together and talk about his life. We laugh and cry and remember what an amazing man he truly was and will always be. I Miss and love my daddy everyday.
As I sit here and read all the wonderful responses about my husband still makes me cry thank you everybody for your warm loving words. A lot of you don’t know but Frank had a real goofy Side he would make me laugh tell my stomach was hurting. I remember once sitting in the doctors office in the back and I was sitting outside his room waiting for him and the door was open he was doing the silliest things that I started laughing so hard it sounded like I was crying and the nurse came over to me and asked me if I was OK and I told him Frank was just making me laugh her answer was you’re laughing so hard it sounds like you’re crying and people are getting scared in the waiting room this happens all the time. Just like Frank would sit in the car at the market and I will wait in line and I could see him and of course he did his normal put his sunglasses on upside down which always got me in many other funny things. Here I am standing in line at the market laughing so hard people thought I was crazy but that was my friend. I thank you Frank for the ride of my life for 22 years you will never be forgotten in my heart until we see each other again play ball . Love from your wife Julie
If you were lucky enough to know Frank, then you will carry him in your heart forever. I was one of the lucky ones.
Frank Orsatti, Super athlete, great guy. Trusted and believed in my martial arts skills and helped get into doing martial arts choreography and stunts in movies and television. A man’s man with a big dose of humility, compassion, and tons of courage, I have nothing but the best to say about Frank.I don’t know how others think and feel about friendships especially in the “movie” business, but when a guy of frank’s stature in “the business” comes all the way to the Philippines to spend a two week vacation at my home, it tells me a lot, especially with frank’s nature of being a action guy. I love him.
Congratulations to Frank Orsatti and to my sister, julie Orsatti for this well-deserved (long overdue) induction into the S U Hall of Fame. Frank was definitely a force to be reckoned with… His wit, his kindness, his strength, incredible good looks, and his love for Julie culminated together for someone whom everyone admired Frank’s humility and charm are two virtues rarely seen in a person of his caliber and entertainment expertise. We still miss and love you! Anita Lavi (sister-in-law)
That’s great news. Thanks so much for giving Frank this honor.
Hello to everybody this is Julie Orsatti as I sit here and read all these wonderful comments about my husband I cry and I know Frank would be shy about this but I am not I am just a proud wife of a man who is so loved by so many People. I thank my nephew Paul for getting this done with stunts Unlimited. Frank belongs on that wall with all the other great Stuntmen who are not with us anymore but leave their legacy.. it is hard to believe that Frank has been gone for 15 years this year but the way I get through the day a lot of times is thinking he is throwing a Baseball with his father I am so very proud of him. Sincerely, Julie Orsatti
So wonderful to see the well deserved honorary membership. Love hearing the stories and gratitude of those who had the privelgeand honor to work with him. Good job SU for keeping those pioneers and true originals in the forefront. I was blessed to have met Frank and work with him as well. Never Forget !!
Good decision and great story, want to say hi to Manny Perry, met him years ago when he was selling a car through Auto Trader. Never forget how he pick up a boat or motorcycle trailer that was in the way of photographing the car for sale. The I got a signed autograph for my son which he still has, he is now 34.