Movie and television legend Ernest Borgnine passed away Sunday at the age of 95. For some he was the cranky, loud-mouth fireman from The Poseidon Adventure. To others he was the happy-go-lucky PT boat commander Quinton McHale on McHale’s Navy. Ernest was also an Academy Award winner in 1955 for his role in Marty. No matter what he may be remember for, Ernest Borgnine was a genuine man and an outstanding actor.
Born Ermes Efron Borgnino in Hamden, Conn., on Jan. 24, 1917, the son of Italian immigrants. He served on an US Navy destroyer during World War 2 and spent ten years in the Navy trying his hand at acting when he got out. The roles were few and he nearly took a job with an electrical company before deciding to return to acting.
His role in Marty made him a star, but it was other roles that made him an enduring presence in Hollywood. During his career he starred in such films as From Here To Eternity, Bad Day at Black Rock, Vera Cruz, Three Bad Men, The Vikings, Torpedo Run, Barabbas, The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch, Ice Station Zebra, The Adventurers, Willard, The Poseidon Adventure, The Greatest, Convoy, Ravagers, Escape from New York and The Black Hole.
He was a regular on the hit game show Hollywood Squares, in addition to his role on McHale’s Navy, he also starred as the surly co-pilot in Airwolf and the ever wise “Mannie the Doorman” in The Single Guy.
Although known for his tough guy roles, his greatest work was showing his emotional side that won him the greatest praise of his peers. I was fortunate enough to meet him just last year during DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. Having grown up watching him on TV and in movies it was a singular moment for me to meet a true Hollywood legend. Ernest Borgnine shall be missed, but never forgotten.