Ernest Borgnine, Academy Award Actor, Dies at 95

Ernest Borgnine’s face wasn’t the prettiest one on the screen, but it was oftentimes the most compelling. Mr. Borgnine ushered in an era of American cinematic realism. Rising to fame as the thug who beat Frank Sinatra to death in the movie “From Here to Eternity”, he won the Oscar for his lead role in the 1955 film “Marty”, a sad, lonely Bronx butcher looking for love.

He passed away Sunday in Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of renal failure.

My earliest memory of the actor was on the television show “McHale’s Navy”. The great ensemble sitcom that included Tim Conway and Joe Flynn. But it was Borgnine’s scheming McHale who was its most memorable character.

I remember watching him in “The Poseidon Adventure” and thinking, How did he land a babe like Stella Stevens? But then it became clear as the movie went on —he was rough and gruff, but also incredibly tender. And he was real.

He continued to work well into his 90s. A whole new generation heard him voice the character of Mermaid Man on the series Spongebob Squarepants, an aging ex-superhero whiling his time away in a cartoon nursing home, joined by his perpetual sidekick, Barnacle Boy (again, Tim Conway).

His death makes Sidney Poitier the oldest living Academy Award winning actor at 85.

Although his private life could have been tabloid fodder, he had a great sense of humor about his life. He himself made light of his 38 day marriage to Ethel Merman — but it’s the talent and body of work for which he’ll be remembered. In this Kardashian-famed age of smoke and mirrors, we at mourn the passing of a true artist of substance.
, ,


Log in