Ernest Borgnine, 1917-2012

On July 3, we lost TV legend Andy Griffith at the age of 86.  Five days later, we bid farewell to another Hollywood great: Ernest Borgnine

Born Ermes Effron Borgnino in Hamden, Connecticut to Italian immigrants.  His family moved back to Italy when he was only two, and then again to the United States a few years later.

Changing his name to Ernest Borgnine, he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1935, re-enlisting at the start of World War II.  Afterward, he found his way to local theatre.

Borgnine’s breakout role as sadistic prison guard “Fatso” Judson in From Here to Eternity (1953) led to a string of tough guy and villain roles.  Two years later he was cast as a kind-hearted butcher in the drama, Marty (1955), which won him the Best Actor Academy Award.

From 1962-1966, he starred in the television comedy McHale’s Navy at PT boast commander Quinton McHale.  This led to an Emmy nomination.  Borgnine continued in both movies and television for the next fifty years.  Notable films include: The Dirty Dozen (1967), Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Black Hole (1979), and Escape From New York (1981).  He also co-starred in the adventure series Airwolf from 1984-1986. 

Later in his career, Borgnine voiced the character Mermaid Man in the popular animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, reuniting him with his McHale’s Navy co-star Tim Conway (as sidekick Barnacle Boy).

Married five times, including to actresses Katy Jurado (1959-1963) and Ethel Merman (32 days in 1964), Borgnine was proud supporter of various veterans organizations.

Luckily, we can still remember Ernest Borgnine through his many movie and TV roles.  Do you have a favorite?