Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)
His career spanned over 60 years. And when you look at the list of movies and TV shows he did, it appears he didn’t have much time off. But those years in front of the camera served him well. Ernest Borgnine became one of the most recognizable and dependable actors in show business.
I first knew him as Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale on the comedy series McHale’s Navy. Then as a vacationing cop in The Poseidon Adventure. So the characters I knew best were nice, affable guys. It was only later I discovered that he could play the most vicious bad guys, such as in From Here to Eternity and Bad Day at Black Rock. His size gave credence to his tough guy roles movies such as The Wild Bunch and The Dirty Dozen.
But Borgnine could play it soft, too. My favorite of all his films has to be Marty, in which he played a lonely man who finds, almost loses, and finds love again, all in a 24 hour period. It’s sweet and funny and charming. For that role, he deservedly won the Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA. In my opinion, it’s one of the best love stories on film.
Borgnine kept working throughout the decades, appearing in hit movies like Red and even doing voices for the cartoons SpongeBob SquarePants and All Dogs Go to Heaven and the animated film The Lion of Judah. He gave interviews and recently hosted showings of Marty for a new generation of fans.
With his passing, we lose one of the great actors of Hollywood. If you’re not familiar with his earlier works, or you'd just like to see them again, I especially recommend Marty and From Here to Eternity, to showcase to diversity of Ernest Borgnine’s talent.