Monday, 9 July 2012

RIP Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine, the prolific character actor who won an Academy Award for the title role of Marty, passed away at the age of 95, ending a career that spanned more than 60 years.

He was an unconventional Hollywood star and used that status to carve a niche for himself, and acting as an example to other actors for his energy and work ethic.

He spent ten years in the US Navy, including combat in the Pacific during World War 2. At the end of the war he had left the Navy and was wondering what he would do next when his mother said:  'You always like getting in front of people and making a fool of yourself, why don't you give it a try?'

That led to a career on the stage, starting in summer stock and touring companies, eventually to supporting parts on Broadway, and guest parts in the early days of television. 

His big screen break happened in 1953 when he was cast as the sadistic Sergeant "Fatso" Judson in From Here To Eternity.  That led to a string of parts playing "heavies," but it was playing a nice guy that took his career to the next level. That nice guy was Marty, a lovelorn butcher, and it earned him an Academy Award, beating Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, and the late James Dean.

Now, after winning an Oscar, a lot of actors end up spending their career chasing after another Oscar. Not Ernest Borgnine.

He knew that he wasn't "leading man" material, and that his place was as a character actor, but that didn't stop him from making the most of it.

He took almost every role he could fit in, including doing television, and brought a great amount of energy and professionalism. He did everything from sitcoms to cinema, and accumulating more than his share of classic roles.

You literally can't find anyone who hasn't seen something that didn't feature Borgnine in some way, regardless of their age.

You can't really do much better when you're a character actor.

Rest In Peace Ernie.


  1. Rainforest Giant here,

    I was just thinking about him the day before he passed away. He did everything and did it well. Even my grandkids knew who he was.

    We would be better off with more men like him. He was that rare type of American actor who worked his craft and was a good citizen to boot.

  2. Also most of the time it looked like he was enjoying himself and his work. Which was probably the secret of his longevity.