CBS Sports Legendary Tech D’Onofrio Dead at 92; Helped Define Golf Coverage
Charles D’Onofrio, who began his career at CBS in 1949 and became one of the industry’s top technical managers during a career that spanned 39 years, passed away late last week at the age of 92. Visiting hours will be Tuesday, Dec. 30 from 4-8 p.m. at Lloyd Maxcy & Sons Beauchamp Chapel, 16 Shea Pl, New Rochelle, NY, and a funeral Mass is scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., at Blessed Sacrament Church in New Rochelle.
After serving in the military during World War II, D’Onofrio began his TV career with a short stint at WPIX in New York. In 1949, he was hired by CBS and he remained with the company for 39 years. During his tenure, he handled equipment and video maintenance, as well as camera, audio, and video operation. Among his diverse remote broadcast experiences, D’Onofrio’s sports resume includes 11 Super Bowls, 20 US Open Tennis tournaments, 39 Masters tournaments, and numerous Kentucky Derbys. He also worked on numerous iconic early television programs, including The Ed Sullivan Show, Captain Kangaroo, and The Evening News with Walter Cronkite. He won multiple Emmy awards and was inducted into the Broadcast Museum.
CBS Director of Golf Operations Steve Gorsuch says that D’Onofrio was able to get the most out of everyone during an era when the technical directors were also the crew leaders. “He was the finest person that I have ever known at CBS,” he says. “When we were the ‘young’ cameramen, he taught us how to work with people and perform at the highest level.”
Davey Finch, CBS Sports cameraman, started working with D’Onofrio in 1975 when he led the CBS golf technical crew under legendary producer Frank Chirkinian. “He was a true leader in every sense of the word and helped structure the original system that is now the present-day golf technical team at CBS Sports,” he explains. “With Charlie’s personality, he would welcome the neophytes — young guys like me — and build a crew that would walk on water for him. He always said, ‘Know your people’ — the women and men that would help set up and tear down the remote with energy and timeless spirit.”
Lance Barrow, CBS Sports coordinating producer, has created an annual award for the technical crew that honors D’Onofrio, as it is a Waterford crystal vase with the letter D on it. It is presented to the crew member that best exemplifies the best qualities of leadership, integrity, hard work, and overall excellence. It is still presented at the end of each season.