Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Charles who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy and Anna who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, but took no real interest in acting. At age 18, after graduating from high school in New Haven, and undecided about his future career, he joined the United States Navy, where he stayed for ten years until leaving in 1945. After a few factory jobs, his mother suggested that his forceful personality could make him suitable for a career in acting, and Borgnine promptly enrolled at the Randall School of Drama in Hartford. After completing the course, he joined Robert Porterfield's famous Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, staying there for four years, undertaking odd jobs and playing every type of role imaginable. His big break came in 1949, when he made his acting debut on Broadway playing a male nurse in "Harvey".
In 1951, Borgnine moved to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career, and made his film debut as Bill Street in The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951). His career took off in 1953 when he was cast in the role of Sergeant "Fatso" Judson in From Here to Eternity (1953). This memorable performance led to numerous supporting roles as "heavies" in a steady string of dramas and westerns. He played against type in 1955 by securing the lead role of Marty Piletti, a shy and sensitive butcher, in Marty (1955). He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, despite strong competition from Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, James Dean and James Cagney. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Borgnine performed memorably in such films as The Catered Affair (1956), Ice Station Zebra (1968) and Emperor of the North (1973). Between 1962 and 1966, he played Lt. Commander Quinton McHale in the popular television series "McHale's Navy" (1962). In early 1984, he returned to television as Dominic Santini in the action series "Airwolf" (1984) co-starring Jan-Michael Vincent, and in 1995, he was cast in the comedy series "The Single Guy" (1995) as doorman Manny Cordoba. He also appeared in several made-for-TV movies.
Ernest Borgnine has often stated that acting is his greatest passion, and he is still working today. His amazing 61-year career (1951 - 2012 and continuing) includes appearances in well over 100 feature films and as a regular in three television series, as well as voiceovers in animated films such as All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996), Small Soldiers (1998), and a continued role in the series "SpongeBob SquarePants" (1999). Between 1973 until his death, Ernest was married to Tova Traesnaes, who heads her own cosmetics company. They lived in Beverly Hills, California, where Ernest assisted his wife between film projects. When not acting, Ernest actively supported numerous charities and spoke tirelessly at benefits throughout the country. He has been awarded several honorary doctorates from colleges across the United States as well as numerous Lifetime Achievement Awards. In 1996, Ernest purchased a bus and traveled across the United States to see the country and meet his many fans. On December 17, 1999, he presented the University of North Alabama with a collection of scripts from his film and television career, due to his long friendship with North Alabama alumnus and actor George Lindsey (died May 6, 2012), who was an artist in residence at North Alabama.
Ernest Borgnine passed away aged 95 on July 8, 2012, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, of renal failure. He is survived by his wife Tova, their children and his younger sister Evelyn.
|Tova Borgnine||(24 February 1973 - 8 July 2012) (his death)|
|Donna Granucci||(30 June 1965 - 1 January 1972) (divorced) 2 children|
|Ethel Merman||(27 June 1964 - 28 July 1964) (divorced)|
|Katy Jurado||(31 December 1959 - 3 June 1963) (divorced)|
|Rhoda Kemins||(2 September 1949 - 29 August 1958) (divorced) 1 child|
Gruff, but gentle voice
Gap between his two front teeth
He spent 10 years in the United States Navy prior to acting.
There is an instrumental techno track called "Theme from Ernest Borgnine" by the artist Squarepusher on the album "Feed Me Weird Things" (1996, Rephlex Records UK).
Involved in an air crash in 1996.
Had both knees replaced. 
Was the very first "center square" on "The Hollywood Squares" (1965) (during its premiere week in October 1966).
Has periodically performed as the "Grand Clown" for The Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since the 1970s.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1996.
Is an active Freemason and is presently the Honorary Chairman of the Scottish Rite RiteCare Program, which sponsors 175 Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs nationwide.
Is a Master Mason and has been elevated to the 33rd Degree in Scottish Rite.
Has the distinction of appearing in more of the 100 Most Enjoyably Awful Movies of All Time as listed in Razzie Award-founder John Wilson's book "The Official Razzie Movie Guide" than any other actor -- A total of four: The Adventurers (1969), The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)The Oscar (1966), and The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
He was made an honorary United States Navy Chief Petty Officer by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Terry Scott on October 15, 2004. He served in the United States Navy for ten years from 1935-1945 and left the service as a Gunner's Mate 1st Class.
While on location in Mexico filming Vera Cruz (1954), he and fellow cast member Charles Bronson found themselves with some extra time on their hands and decided to go to the nearest town to get some cigarettes. Still in full costume -- including bandoliers and pistols -- they mounted their horses and headed out. Along the way they were spotted by a truckful of Mexican "federales" -- federal police -- who mistook them for bandits and held them at gunpoint until their identities could be verified.
Speaks fluent Italian.
Referenced in 'Weird Al' Yankovic's song "Your Horoscope for Today".
His car licence plate is BORG9.
Former member of the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC).
Twice-wed Borgnine married thrice-wed Broadway diva Ethel Merman in 1964. Their marriage was dissolved after 32 days. They had announced their impending nuptials at the legendary New York night spot P.J. Clarke's, but Borgnine, who was riding high as the star of "McHale's Navy" (1962) at the time, said the marriage began unraveling on their honeymoon, when he received more fan attention than she did. The competitive Merman was left seething. "By the time we got home, it was hell on earth," Borgnine recalled in a 2001 interview. "And after 32 days I said to her, 'Madam, bye.'" Borgnine went on to marry a third time, but Merman remained single after her divorce. In her 1978 biography, she devoted a chapter of her autobiography to the marriage: It consisted of one blank page.
Father of Sharon Borgnine (born August 5th 1965), Cris Borgnine (born August 9th 1969) and Diana Rancourt-Borgnine (born December 29th 1970) with Donna Rancourt. Daughter Nancee Borgnine (aka Gina Kemins-Borgnine) (born August 18th 1952) with Rhoda Kemins.
Made a special Academy Awards appearance in 1998, at the The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) (TV), and in 2005 at the The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) (TV) and participated in the Oscar Winners Tribute sequence along with other Academy Award winners.
On March 3, 2006, he was given a standing ovation when introduced at the National Italian American Foundation's salute to the Academy Awards, which was celebrating 78 years of Italian-American Oscar winners and nominees. Former Motion Picture Producers Association of America chief Jack Valenti co-chaired the dinner, and Italian-Americans in attendance included Connie Stevens, Dom DeLuise, Robert Loggia and Al Martino as well as Italian actor Franco Nero.
On February 5, 2007, he received California's highest civilian honor, the California Commendation Medal. It was presented to him on the set of A Grandpa for Christmas (2007) (TV) by Major General William H. Wade II, Adjutant General and Commander of the California National Guard for a lifetime of exceptionally meritorious service as well as recognizing Borgnine's "heartfelt advocacy on behalf of military personnel and veterans on many fronts, including the California National Guard".
In 2007, Ernest became the first male Oscar winner for Best Actor to still be alive on his 90th birthday, and in 2012, Ernest became the first male Oscar winner for Best Actor to still be alive (and working) on his 95th birthday.
Is the only actor to star in all four 'Dirty Dozen' films.
Best known by the public for his starring role as the title character in "McHale's Navy" (1962).
Lives in the same Beverly Hills, California home that he bought in 1965.
His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6324 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
His second ex-wife Katy Jurado, died in 2002. He referred to her as "beautiful, but a tiger".
His fifth wife, Tova Borgnine, is almost 25 years his junior.
For 30 years, between 1972 and 2002, he marched in Milwaukee's annual Great Circus Parade as the "Grand Clown".
His mother, Anna Borgnine, died in 1949, after a long battle against tuberculosis, just days before his first wedding.
Was very good friends with: John Forsythe, Jane Wyman, Gavin MacLeod, Adam West, Brian Keith, Eddie Albert, Michael Landon, Danny Thomas, Telly Savalas, Karl Malden, Carroll O'Connor, Anthony Quinn, Angela Lansbury, Jack Elam, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Robert Conrad, Larry Manetti, Robert Aldrich, Robert Fuller, John McIntire, George Kennedy, Angie Dickinson, Don Rickles, Dean Martin, Lee Marvin, Montgomery Clift, Marty Allen, Bo Hopkins, Tim Conway and George Lindsey.
Is an active Republican.
Before he was a successful actor, he worked in a variety of factory and warehousing jobs.
Father-in-law of Kim Borgnine.
Winner of the Best Actor Award for Night Club (2011) at the 6th Annual Staten Island Film Festival on June 12, 2011, the Golden Door International Film Festival on October 16, 2011 and his final acting honor, Best Actor for The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez (2012) at the Newport Beach Film Festival on May 9, 2012.
Tortilla Flats, a restaurant in New York City, has had an obsession with Ernest Borgnine since the mid-1980s. A booth is completely covered in his photos, and they have a yearly Ernest Borgnine night. Staff members are put through rigorous Borgnine trivia training when hired. While he had no involvement in the restaurant, he has made occasional visits, and wore one of their shirts when filming Captiva Island (1995).
Was billed to star in Lightning, the White Stallion (1986), according to a 1984 Cannon Group publicity brochure and starring opposite Michael Winslow in the police comedy "Crimebusters", to have been released in 2008. Later that year he was part of the cast of a supernatural western in development, "Death Keeps Coming" co-starring Stella Stevens and Tony Tarantino.
Ernest won the 1955 Academy Award as best actor for Marty (1955), his first, and only, nomination for an Oscar. He was also nominated, and won the Golden Globe, BAFTA (British Academy), National Board of Review, and New York Film Critics Circle Awards for the same role. All were not only his first win, but his first and only nominations as lead actor in a theatrical film.
Ernest was to have played the lead in the first feature film ever directed by Ridley Scott. It was to be a Canadian heist movie titled "Ronnie and Leo", co-starring Michael York, and was to have been filmed in August 1974. Both stars were attached to the project along with nearly $1.7 million in financing and actually came close to being made, but in the end it wasn't to be.
He once said he was considering making the navy a career, and his mother talked him into becoming an actor.
Upon his death he was cremated, his ashes were given to his family.
Ernest Borgnine's film career spanned 61 years - for 57 of those years, in many of his movies, from Marty (1955) through to The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez (2012), he had the leading role.
Ernest Borgnine was the only movie star to appear in 3D movies from both the Golden Age in the 1950s (The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953) and The Bounty Hunter (1954)) and the format's revival in the 2010s (one his last movies, The Lion of Judah (2011)).
In a video interview on the Screen Actors Guild website, in association with his 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, Ernest Borgnine was asked by members of Facebook what actor he would have loved to have worked with, but hadn't until that time -- he mentioned one: Peter O'Toole, stating he'd been friends with him for years and had a wonderful attitude he'd always admired. On July 10 2012, two days after Ernest Borgnine's death, Peter O'Toole announced his retirement from acting.
Guest starred in the last 2 episodes of "ER" (1994).
Was the producers' first choice for the lead role in "McHale's Navy" (1962).
Graduated from James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1935.
Ernest Borgnine passed away on July 8, 2012. Just before his death, he appeared in his final film: The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez (2012).
Of Italian immigrants.
Moved to New Haven, Connecticut, when young Ernest was age 6, in 1923.
His parents were Charles B. Borgnino and Anna (Boselli) Borgnine, who was an Italian countess.
Celebrated his 90th birthday at a local bistro in West Hollywood, California in 2007. Among the guests were Tim Conway, his wife, Tova Borgnine, Dennis Farina, Army Archerd, Andy Granatelli, Bo Hopkins, Burt Young, Steven Bauer, his son, Cris Borgnine, grandson, Anthony Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Connie Stevens, Larry Manetti, Don Rickles, among many others.
Attended his best friend's Michael Landon's funeral in 1991.
On "McHale's Navy" (1962) he played a Naval officer, in real-life, he was a longtime Naval Non-Comissioned Officer.
Acting mentor and friend of Tim Conway.
Ernest Borgnine was one of the few overseas guests to be invited twice to Australia's main television industry awards, the TV Week Logie Awards, in March 1982 and March 1990, both ceremonies held in Melbourne.
Spencer Tracy was the first actor I've seen who could just look down into the dirt and command a scene. He played a set-up with Robert Ryan that way. He's looking down at the road and then he looks at Ryan at just the precise, right minute. I tell you, Rob could've stood on his head and zipped open his fly and the scene would've still been Mr Tracy's.
The trick is not to become somebody else. You become somebody else when you're in front of a camera or when you're on stage. There are some people who carry it all the time. That, to me, is not acting. What you've gotta do is find out what the writer wrote about and put it into your mind. This is acting. Not going out and researching what the writer has already written. This is crazy!
Everything I do has a moral to it. Yes, I've been in films that have had shootings. I made The Wild Bunch (1969), which was the beginning of the splattering of blood and everything else. But there was a moral behind it. The moral was that, by golly, bad guys got it. That was it. Yeah.
Ever since they opened the floodgates with Clark Gable saying, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", somebody's ears pricked up and said, "Oh boy, here we go!". Writers used to make such wonderful pictures without all that swearing, all that cursing. And now it seems that you can't say three words without cursing. And I don't think that's right.
[on his $5,000 salary for playing the eponymous lead in Marty (1955), which won him a Best Actor Oscar] ...I would have done it for nothing.
Robert Ryan was a craftsman from start to finish. He was an actor first, a star second.
Where can we find the great actors we had yesteryear, guys like Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper and Edward G. Robinson? You know, I was talking to Lee Marvin the other day and we agreed that we were the last of a breed. We're the last who had the opportunity of working with these fine actors. I feel very humble. It makes me feel that I've got to try that bit harder.
I like my women a little big. Natural. Now, they shave this and wax that. It's not right. I love natural women. Big women. This trend in women has to go. Bulemia, anorexia. That's just wrong. You know what will cure that? My special sticky buns. One lick of my sticky buns and your appetite will come right back.
[on the Womens Rights movement] They tried it the wrong way. You can't expect anyone to take you seriously if you burn your undies and tell me I'm a pig. That's why it failed. Too many ugly broads telling me that they don't want to sleep with me. Who wanted you anyway?
I hate hippies and dopeheads. Just hate them. I'm glad we sent the men off to war. They came back with a sense of responsibility and respect. We should have grabbed the women, given them a bath, put a chastity belt on them, and put them in secretary school.
[on drugs]: No, I've never done anything. At least, not to my knowledge. I once took a bunch of goofballs by accident. They looked like candy. They were in a little bowl at a party. I grabbed a hand full and went to town. That was some New Years Eve. I didn't have a coherent thought till February.
[reflecting on Paul Newman's passing:] What can you possibly say about such a wonderful, dedicated man? He was a great guy. I feel he is much better off, God bless him, I feel so sorry for his wife, Joanne, who is just the most lovely person, too. But, hey, he left his mark, God bless him, and you can't say no more than that, by golly. He left not only that, but he left a wonderful thing that he'd been doing for everyone - I mean, donating all his money from different things that he's done to help children.
I think you have to keep going. Otherwise, you know these fellas that say, "Boy I can't wait to retire. Boy, I'm going to be 65 years old, and I'm retiring and I'm quitting and that's it." Well, two weeks later they're saying to themselves, "What the hell am I gonna do?" And first thing you know they find themselves in a wheelchair or in a rocking chair going back and forth, back and forth, and that's the end of it. And suddenly you're dead.
[on his popularity while playing the forty-five something Lt. Commander Quinton McHale on "McHale's Navy" (1962)]: It's not exactly the Navy I remember. I don't think we could have won the war if we'd had one like this. But it's a lot more laughs.
[In 1962]: In 1941, I quit the Navy to go to work in a factory in New Haven, Connecticut --- 1941, what a year to quit the Navy. I was back in a few months. In the beginning, we had only three boats patrolling the entire Atlantic Coast and I was on one of them. Then, they sent me to Hollywood, Florida. I was assigned to a PY, patrol yacht. The PY was a converted yacht, the S.S. Intrepid. It used to be owned by the Murphy who invented Murphy beds. He took it to Europe and all over before the war. You should have seen what the Navy did to it!
[In 1963]: Somebody said there was no such as small roles; only small actors. I think it was Mickey Rooney. Anyway, it ain't true.
I've got to treat my throat like a broken leg and let it get strong again. My shouting and 'har de har har' days are over.
[on why he wanted to star in "McHale's Navy" (1962)]: Theater business was disappearing and so were night clubs, which I don't like to play anyway because they keep me up too late. There were TV guest shots, but how many times can you play Ed Sullivan? My biggest pay was from industrial shows, but they don't come along too often.
[In 1971, promoting Who Killed the Mysterious Mr. Foster? (1971) (TV)] Research is a crock. All the necessary research is done by the author. Why should I do the research on his research? The only thing I did was bring my characterization to Cook (Director Fielder Cook) and then we worked on it. Sam Hill is a good, likable guy, but you can also get mad at him. The character should have a controversial quality.
McHale was always trying to put one over on the captain. Sam Hill isn't trying to put one over on anybody. He's a man who takes no guff from anyone. He can get disorderly when faced with trials and tribulations. When he does wrong, he admits it. People can see themselves in this character.
Everybody says all you have to do is get a television show that will last three years and you can retire. Lemme tell you something, I was in 'McHale's Navy,' for four years and I owned a third of the show.
I don't care whether a part is 10 minutes long, or two hours, and I don't care whether my name is up there on top, either. Matter of fact, I'd rather have somebody else get top billing; then if the picture bombs, he gets the blame, not me.
[In 1973] No, thanks. I was under contract once, to Hecht-Hill-Lancaster. It cost me $500,000 to get out of it.
[Said in 1965 of his off-camera feud with Edward Montagne]: When Universal told me that Edward Montague was not going to produce but direct the movie, I told them that my price would be triple. So, they made a story about 'McHale's Navy,' without 'McHale.'
[Said in 1966 about his answer to all of his past charges] Yes, I'm a hot tempered Italian, but I don't think I am ever unfair or unjust.
[In 1972]: I think we all have the urge to be a clown, whether we know it or not. The clown we see is a fascinating person, expressing pathos, poignancy, joie de vivre. It's an opportunity to express one's innermost feelings while hiding behind a mask.
Please, for heaven's sake, if anybody lives next to a hospital, a veteran's hospital or something, take a half hour, take an hour, take two hours, and go down there and visit our veterans. They would love to see you. Bring 'em flowers or something. Just to say hello. Believe me, they're hungry for people to come and see them... we owe freedom and opportunity to them. It's the least we can do.
|From Here to Eternity (1953)||$700 a week|
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