Conrad Palmisano, Stuntman and Coordinator Behind ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ Dies at 75

Conrad Palmisano, Stuntman and Coordinator Behind ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ Dies at 75

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Conrad Palmisano, a veteran Hollywood stuntman, stunt coordinator and director, died on Jan. 10. He was 75.

Palmisano’s stunt credits include over 200 projects across several decades. He worked on a wide range of films from “The Jerk” to “21 Jump Street.” He served as stunt coordinator on “Red Dragon” (2002), “No Strings Attached” (2011), “My Sister’s Keeper,” “Romeo Must Die” (2000), “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993) and “Weekend at Bernie’s” (1989), among many other projects. Some of his television credits include “Jag,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “Chaos,” “Bosch” and “NCIS.”

In a 2021 interview with Variety celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Stuntmen’s Association — for which he served as president multiple times — Palmisano reflected on his career alongside colleagues Bob Herron, Alex Daniels and Terry Leonard.

He shared of his on set experiences, “We live our lives between two words: ‘action’ and ‘cut.’ When you start, they don’t give you the death-defying stunts. You might get knocked down or a flying stunt, and as you progress, they start hiring you. But it is the adrenaline rush. Richard Burton once complained to me. He said, ‘I do a soliloquy of Shakespeare and I don’t get anything out of the crew. You fall down a flight of stairs, everyone applauds.’ I said, “What are you complaining about, you’re married to Elizabeth Taylor.’”

Palmisano was also a member of the Academy and advocated for the institution to recognize the work of stuntmen at the Oscars. He was also a SAG-AFTRA board member – stunt and safety.

He said in the same Variety interview, “The Academy, back in the day, was trying to stop the unionization of Hollywood. The Academy would negotiate salaries for actions and that’s part of the reason that stuntmen are in the Screen Actor’s Guild; they would go out to the stuntmen ranches down on those long dirt roads, to have meetings because studio security would follow people to find out who was trying to form a union. We were involved with the Guild from the beginning, and the Academy doesn’t want to form another category for whatever reason.”

Palmisano was born on May 1, 1948 and was raised in the San Fernando Valley. He joined the Marines at the age of 17 and served in the Vietnam War before getting involved in Hollywood. Last year, the Taurus World Stunt Awards recognized Palmisano with a lifetime achievement award.

Palmisano passed away surrounded by family. He is survived by three daughters, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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