Born the only child to a pair of Italian immigrants in 1917, Ermes Effron Borgino enjoyed a long and prosperous career as a renowned character actor in movies and television.
When asked his secret for longevity during an appearance on the Fox and Friends morning show in 2008, Borgnine whispered that he masturbated “a lot.”
Ernie died of kidney failure at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles early Sunday morning. His family was by his side.
The actor was 95.
Borgnine was already a decorated World War II veteran by age 30, when his mother suggested he do something “glamorous” with his life. Although he had no prior aspirations for the stage, the Connecticut native joined a barter theater and worked his way through the ranks. He starred in a production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie before his Broadway debut in Harvey. His first major film appearance was opposite Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity.
Ernie’s role as a humble butcher in 1955’s Marty won him an Academy Award, a prize he accepted from Grace Kelly.
Borgnine played the titular character in popular sitcom McHale’s Navy from 1962-1966. He remained lifelong friends with costar Tim Conway, even joining the comedian as voice artist on Spongebob Squarepants.
Other notable entries in Borgnine’s six-decade movie career include The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch, The Devil’s Rain, and Escape from New York. He played the gruff retired cop Rogo in the maritime disaster flick Poseidon Adventure. His turn as Sheriff Lyle “Cottonmouth” Wallace made a cult classic out of Convoy. His spin as treacherous reporter-astronaut Harry Booth in 1979’s The Black Hole was one of his few roles as villain.
Two decades after McHale’s Navy, Borgnine took the skies with Jan-Michael Vincent on T.V.’s helicopter action show Airwolf. He also guested on Love Boat, Magnum P.I., Murder, She Wrote, and Touched By An Angel. He won an Emmy in 1992 for his work on the medical drama E.R.
With his stocky build, prominent brow, and gruff voice, Borgnine frequently played the strong, reliable sideman to more conventionally handsome actors.
But ladies took to the charismatic Italian-American, who ultimately married five times. His betrothal to singer Ethel Merman lasted one month.
Borgnine was a fifty-year Freemason and served as “Grand Clown” at Milwaukee’s annual city parade from 1972-2002. He joined Bruce Willis and a cast of other old-timers in the 2010 spy caper Red.
AIBN salutes you, Ernie. We know you’ll be keeping amateurs in line on the other side.
"Abominable Snowcone" is a music / film afficionado living in Cleveland, Ohio. He toils for local government by day and fights crime by night, when not writing for a couple local media outlets. He prefers coffee to alcohol and rock over Bach. He enjoys reading, noodling on guitar, and making trouble for amateurs. He's ascared of sharks.
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!