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