Casting director Louis DiGiaimo, a five-decade veteran of television and film who cast four best picture Oscar-winners and notably gave Brad Pitt his big break died on Saturday from complications following a stroke earlier this year, his family announced. He was 77.

Born in Paterson, N.J. in 1938, DiGiaimo began his professional life as an accountant after attending Fairleigh Dickerson University, living in New York City. He made the transition to film after meeting director Martin Ritt who was preparing to shoot the 1968 Kirk Douglas crime film The Brotherhood. DiGiaimo found locals from New York docks to serve as background extras, and from the experience launched his career in casting after, with his self-titled agency based in Manhattan.

LouisDiGiaimoDiGiaimo demonstrated a knack for good casting and would do so on dozens of films, including four that went on to win the Oscar for best picture: The French Connection, The Godfather, Rain Man, and Gladiator. DiGiaimo had a long association with Gladiator director Ridley Scott, also casting the director’s Thelma & Louise, Conquest of Paradise, White Squall, G.I. Jane, and Hannibal. Notably, he recommended relative unknown Brad Pitt for the role of JD in Thelma & Louise, launching the actor’s career.

His other films include The Exorcist, the Barry Levinson films The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Sleepers, Porky’s Revenge, Year Of The Gun and Donnie Brasco (which he also produced), among many others. He also cast for television, notably winning an Emmy for Homicide: Life On The Street.

DiGiaimo is survived by his wife, his two children, his brother, and six grandchildren. www.northjersey.com originally reported the news.