Stanley Onaitis

Born: Stanley Casimer (Casey) Onaitis was born July 13, 1910 in Rochester, NY

Died: December 26, 1984 in Granada Hills, CA.

Early Life/Family:
Onaitis was born in Rochester, NY on July 13, 1910. From a young age, it was apparent he had a creative inclination. He was forced to quit his education before high school to help support his family, taking up a job finishing the cosmetic accents of pianos, which helped nurture his artistic tendencies. After a few years, he went on a road trip with his cousin and fellow animator Jim Cabian from NY to Hollywood, CA. Once he got there he worked in furniture repair during the job strikes until securing a position as an animator and painter.

Although he was unable to afford art classes after making his way to LA, his proficiency garnered the attention of Millard Sheets, a famous artist and teacher, who allowed Casey admittance into his classes where he taught drawing, painting, and art history.

Career Outline:
After coming to CA, Onaitis was taught the finer points of art through Millard Sheets. One of his first animation job stints was for Disney before branching out to work with many other studios. For a short time, he faced obstacles in his career because of his refusal to join any artists’ unions.

Comments on Style:
Onaitis’ animation work was highly cartoonish and his characters often had highly exaggerated expressions and actions, with animal characters being anthropomorphic and possessing human characteristics. After color was introduced into animation, his cartoons incorporated bright and varied color palettes. During the 70s, when more animated shows became action and adventure-oriented, Onaitis’ human characters were more often anatomically correct and somewhat rooted in reality. Onaitis’ artwork outside of animation was extremely diverse and experimental as he would often use raw colors and dry powders and then mix those with alcohol to create abnormal effects.

Bio Summary:
A lifelong artist, Stanley Casimer Onaitis, sometimes going by “Casey” Onaitis or multiple other variations of his full name, started off in piano and furniture repair as a child, eventually moving on to painting until his breakout as an animator after moving from New York to California. He would go on to work on many famous TV shows and short films, as well as maintain a prominence within the fine arts world until his death in 1984.

In 1933, Onaitis settled in Los Angeles and was married to Adelaide Alice Pouliot ( -2000) and had a son, Stanley Onaitis, Jr. (1942 - ) ( Onaitis studied life drawing, watercolor, abstract/modern art, and landscape with Millard Sheets, an artist and faculty member at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

He was not able to afford to take classes at Chouinard but Millard Sheets was so impressed with his talent that he invited him to sit in his classes for free (paraphrased:

Under Sheets mentorship, Onaitis honed his drawing skills and soon pursued a career in animation to pay the bills.

His career in animation spanned over 45 years in which he worked for several movie studios such as: Walter Lantz Studio, Filmation, Disney, and more.

His first animation job was Smoked Hams Woody Woodpecker (1947) in which he worked with Grim Natwick for Walter Lantz Studio ( Unfortunately, he did not make much of an impression at Walter Lantz Studio, he is unaccredited for Woody Woodpecker, according to statement by Michael Barrier, a journalist, and “Casey Onaitis was another guy who wasn’t a very good draftsman I guess he was a pretty good assistant animator; he did a fair clean-up job (”.

Even though, he made a career as an animator, his real passion was painting (paraphrased: Onaitis entered The California Watercolor Society and the California State Fair in 1937 and won honors for the works he entered.

His most famous contributions in animation were *Star Trek (1973-1974), Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972-1976), Mister Magoo’s Carol (1962), and Wacky Races (1968).*

Other animation contributions include: *Popeye the Sailor (1960), Archie and Sabrina (1971), Oliver Twist (1974), New Adventures of Batman (1977), and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1976).*

Starting out in painting, Onaitis drew inspiration from the old masters of the Italian Renaissance (Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael) and paintings that followed similar motifs and aesthetics.

Casey Onaitis was considered by many of his peers to be an exceptional and knowledgeable “fine artist”, to the point where many of the artists around him would ask him for advice and opinions regarding their work. However, he was somewhat lacking in tact and would often give short and blunt answers to any questions and comments regarding another artist’s work. Like most fine artists, he was also highly contentious towards criticism towards his art that he felt had no thought or foresight, such as the comment that a work is “nice.” He was also a very private person, as he did not seek out attention or fame.

Stanley was not the only member of the Onaitis family with artistic talent. Both his brother Frank and his cousin Jim Cabian have worked in art and animation.

Bibliography:, California Marriage Index, (accessed: 10/29/11)
Life at Lantz, 1944-45,, (accessed: 10/30/11)
My Father’s Art, Stanley Onaitis, Jr.,, (accessed: 10/15/11)
"Casey Onaitis." Internet Movie Database., Inc. Web. Accessed 27 Aug. 2015.
Onaitis, Jr., Stanley. "My Father's Art." Prints Upon a Time. Schumacher-Onaitis Creative. Web. Accessed 27 Aug. 2015.
“Frank Onaitis,” *Internet Movie Database.*, Inc. Web. Accessed 08 Sep. 2015.
The Walter Lantz Cartoon Encyclopedia: 1947,, (accessed: 10/30/11)
My Father’s Art, Stanley Onaitis, Jr.,, (accessed: 10/15/11)
The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia: 1947, http://lantz.****html, (accessed: 10/30/11)

Contributors To This Listing:
Verushka Peralta
Stanley Onaitis Jr.
Edward Reynolds Saldana Jr

Animators Hall of Fame