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Creator / Ernest Borgnine

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"Nightmare Fuel? Who, me?"

"Hey! Who stole my collection of used bandages? And they also got away with my nude pictures of Ernest Borgnine!"

Ernest Borgnine (born Ermes Effron Borgnino; January 24, 1917 July 8, 2012) was an American actor who began his movie career in 1951. Before that, he was in the U.S. Navy for ten years.

His most famous film roles include the title character in Marty (for which he won an Academy Award) and Sgt. Fatso Judson in From Here to Eternity. His best-known television role was Dominic Santini in Airwolf. He also played the title character in the sitcom McHale's Navy, was a regular on Future Cop and The Single Guy, and made guest appearances in numerous other series including ER, Home Improvement, JAG, Little House on the Prairie, Magnum, P.I., 7th Heaven, The District, and Walker, Texas Ranger.

Around here, though, he is perhaps best known for his role as the Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant grandpa in Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, and in one of the all-time great triumphs of celebrity licensing, his daughter produces a tie-in coffee soda named "Borgnine's". Oh, and he also provided the voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants, and appeared as himself in an episode of The Simpsons, if that interests you.

Borgnine was married five times, including tempestuous unions with fellow movie stars Katy Jurado and Ethel Merman (the latter marriage lasting only 42 days).

Works starring Ernest Borgnine include:

This actor provides examples of:

  • Actor-Shared Background: Like his breakout character Quinton McHale, Borgnine served in the US Navy in the Second World War. Their careers had little else in common, however: He was an enlisted man rather than an officer and most of his wartime service was spent aboard a coastal patrol boat in the Atlantic.
  • As Himself: On The Simpsons, in the episode "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood".
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • In his appearance on Saturday Night Live, Kenan Thompson's character calls him "93-year-old sex machine Ernest Borgnine!" Borgnine enthusiastically replied "Yessir!"
    • When asked during a Fox & Friends interview what the key to his longevity was, he first declined to answer, then gave a stage-whispered "I masturbate a lot."
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He could get very violent when he was angry, as Katy Jurado and Ethel Merman attested.
  • Large Ham (Not always... but enough to qualify)
  • Made of Iron: At an age when most actors would have retired, Borgnine was still trouping less than a year before his death.
  • Money, Dear Boy: invoked As you can tell from some of the titles listed above, he wasn't all that picky about which projects he got involved with. Nonetheless, he was always happy just to be working and gave it his all.
  • Nice to the Waiter: According to Bruce Campbell, Borgnine was always unfailingly polite to everyone, down to the guy who delivered coffee, even after the 90º 12-hour workdays involved in shooting McHale's Navy.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Borgnine sometimes said he owed his career to one of these. Burt Lancaster and his business partner decided to produce Marty thinking the movie (which was based off of a popular Telefilm) would lose money at the box office and they could use the expenses as a tax write-off, and they figured casting a fat, unattractive actor best known for playing heavies would ensure its demise. It ended up winning Borgnine the Best Actor Oscar (not to mention the movie itself winning Best Picture) and becoming one of the most profitable films of all time.