Al Onorato, Cofounder of the Casting Society of America, Dies at 88

He received the organization’s lifetime achievement award in 2019

Al Onorato
Al Onorato (Credit: Getty Images)

Al Onorato, cofounder of the Casting Society of America and casting director on “CHiPS,” “Bewitched” and more, died on April 21 at 88. His nephew Chris Onorato confirmed the news.

After graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Onorato worked as a page at NBC Studios in New York City. He moved to Los Angeles a few years later and began casting actors in movies and TV roles and notably worked as vice president of talent at Columbia Pictures Television.

Before he became an independent casting agent, Onorato worked on “Bewitched,” “Hawaii 5-0,” and “Days of Our Lives.” After he founded Onorato/Franks Independent Casting, he worked on “Fame,” “CHiPs,” and “General Hospital.”

Onorato co-founded the Casting Society of America in 1982 with Mike Fenton and Joe Reich and also served as the organization’s treasurer and on its Board of Directors. He received a lifetime achievement award from the organization in 2019 and won the Artios Award for Casting for “Bagdad Café.”

In a statement, the group said, “Casting Society mourns the passing of Al Onorato, whose passion and dedication and love for casting was pivotal in co-founding our organization in 1982. Al helped build what CSA is today—a global organization with over 1200 members and a resource for the entertainment industry worldwide.”

“We will miss Al’s talent, spirit and most of all, his friendship. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

He later worked as a talent agent and was helped launch the careers of several stars, including Katie Holmes, Kristen Chenoweth, Elijah Wood, and Mark Harmon.

Onorato was born on November 10, 1935, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is survived by his siblings Edward Onorato (Susan), Ronald Onorato (Helen), Veronica Onorato Szallai (Jack) and several nephews and a niece.

His funeral will be held on May 18, 2024, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. His family has requested donations to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in lieu of flowers.

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