The Stunt Players Directory Facebook page confirmed his death, writing: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of legendary stuntman Ernie Orsatti. His impeccable work and contributions to the stunt community will live forever.” His son, Noon Orsatti, told The Hollywood Reporter that his father died on Sep. 12 in La Quinta, Calif., after experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke.
Orsatti got his start as a stuntman while acting in the disaster film “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972 as Terry, the date of Pamela Sue Martin’s character. The film’s producer, Irwin Allen, informed Orsatti the day before the stunt was scheduled that he was to perform it, even though he had no experience in the field. However, after consulting with the film’s stunt coordinator, he decided to take the momentous fall — and was hooked.
Orsatti went on to accumulate 140 stunt credits, including in the 1981 pilot for “Hill Street Blues,” three “Death Wish” films, “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka,” “Alien: Resurrection,” “NYPD Blue,” “Charmed,” “Cheaper By The Dozen,” “The Closer,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Entourage” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Big Love.” His last stunt coordinator credit was for the 2010 film “Furry Vengeance” starring Brendan Fraser.
Orsatti was no stranger to show business. He was born in Beverly Hills on Feb. 13, 1940 to Inez Gorman, an opera singer, and Ernie R. Orsatti, an outfielder and first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. His uncle, Victor Orsatti, was a noted talent agent who represented stars like Judy Garland, Betty Grable and Edward G. Robinson, and his brother, Frank Orsatti, was also a stuntman.
Before sticking mostly to stunts, Orsatti had a short acting career, with small roles in 1968’s “The Green Berets” with John Wayne, “The Mechanic” in 1972 and shows like “Mannix” and “The Incredible Hulk.”
Several members of Orsatti’s family have followed in his footsteps as stunt performers, including Noon, his half-brother Rex Pierson and grandson Rowbie.
Orsatti is survived by his wife Lynda, Noon, Pierson; grandchildren Rowbie and Allie, and great-granddaughters Raya and Mira.