Tim Onosko, a leading new technology expert and trend forecaster, who worked for and advised The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering and Universal Studios, passed away at his home in Madison, Wisconsin, on March 6, following a hard fought battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 60-years-old.
In 1987, Onosko joined Walt Disney Imagineering as a consultant. He went on to work for Disney Consumer Products under the leadership of Steve McBeth and designed the original creative concepts (with Michael Lynton) for DISNEY ADVENTURES, a popular children's magazine. He later joined Disney's New Technology and New Media group, where he served under Bob Lambert, svp of Technology Strategy for Disney.
Commenting on Onosko's passing, Jerry Pierce, former svp, Technology, for Universal Studios, said, "Tim was a unique individual. He had an obsession for Hollywood, for Japan, for filmmaking, for consumer electronics, for [wife] Beth, and for life. He brought an understanding of entertainment -- the entertainment itself and the delivery of entertainment to viewers. He was always ahead of the conventional thinking and it always takes time for the consumer to catch up to Tim, but he was often a very good predictor of where the consumer would go. His alternative view of entertainment was always fresh and challenged the status quo to let us all better understand what we were doing. No other person provided that insight into Hollywood. I will miss our long discussions to predict the future. We will all miss Tim Onosko."
Tony Baxter, svp, creative development, Walt Disney Imagineering, added, "Tim always had his eyes and ears trained on the future. He had no patience for anything that may have obstructed the path of progress, and was the first person to go to if you wanted a peak into the world of tomorrow. He kept all the Imagineers involved in the creation of Disney World Epcot buoyed up by his positive chronicle on what we were trying to accomplish."
In 2003, Onosko moved to Universal Studios' Motion Picture Technology office, where he worked under Pierce to develop strategies for new ways for consumers to view content. He also worked on projects for Jay Stein and Steven Spielberg, and was credited with the story for the Spider-Man ride at Universal Florida. As part of his work for Disney and Universal, Onosko made numerous trips to Tokyo, a city he loved and considered his second home.
From 2004-2005, Onosko wrote, directed and, with his wife Beth Abrohams, produced the feature-length documentary, LOST VEGAS: THE LOUNGE ERA, a film about Las Vegas lounge performers from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. Renowned magician Ricky Jay, Onosko's longtime friend and colleague, provided the narration for the film.
Onosko was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Feb. 4, 1947, and was the son of Edward and Lee Onosko. He attended St. Casimir's Elementary and St. Joseph's High School in Kenosha. He went on to attend Regis College in Denver, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. A lifelong film fan and scholar, he was active in Madison's film community while attending the university, and wrote for the VELVET LIGHT TRAP, and was a member of the Union Film Committee. He also published MOVING PICTURE, a newspaper guide/review to films in Madison.
An author and journalist from 1977 to 1987, he served as a contributing editor to OMNI MAGAZINE, VIDEO MAGAZINE and CREATIVE COMPUTING. He also authored several books, including WASN'T THE FUTURE WONDERFUL?, and contributed chapters to numerous other books. He wrote about technology, pop culture and national trends, and was able to make technology understandable to the average person. Among his other accomplishments, he also wrote a computer column for Madison's THE CAPITAL TIMES, at a time when home computing was still in its infancy.
Onosko is survived by his wife, Beth, his father and many wonderful friends. A private service was held in Madison March 9. Details about an upcoming Life Celebration in Los Angeles will be announced shortly.