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 role on TV is Dominic Santini in Airwolf. He also played the title character in the World War II sitcom McHale's Navy. He's had guest roles in many TV-shows, 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 was perhaps best known for being the Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant 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). He passed away on July 8th, 2012.
Works starring Ernest Borgnine include:
- From Here to Eternity (1953)
- Johnny Guitar (1954)
- Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)
- Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
- Marty (1955)
- Violent Saturday (1955)
- The Vikings (1958)
- McHale's Navy (196266)
- The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
- The Dirty Dozen (1967)
- Ice Station Zebra (1968)
- The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
- The Wild Bunch (1969)
- Hannie Caulder (1971)
- Willard (1971)
- The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
- The Revengers (1972)
- Emperor of the North (1973)
- Future Cop (1976-78)
- Convoy (1978)
- The Black Hole (1979)
- When Time Ran Out... (1980)
- Super Fuzz (1980)
- Escape from New York (1981)
- Deadly Blessing (1981)
- Airwolf (198486)
- Laser Mission (1989)
- The Single Guy (199597)
- All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996)
- Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)
- Baseket Ball (1998)
- SpongeBob SquarePants (1999 until his death, as Mermaid Man)
- Red (2010)
- The Lion of Judah (2011) as Slink the Mouse (his final acting and film role)
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: As you can tell from some of the titles listed above, he wasn't all that picky about which projects he got involved with.
- 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.