Ernest Borgnine Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (95)  | Personal Quotes (25)  | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Born in Hamden, Connecticut, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (renal failure)
Birth NameErmes Effron Borgnino
Nickname Ernie
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), 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 was his greatest passion. His amazing 61-year career (1951 - 2012) included appearances in well over 100 feature films and as a regular in three television series, as well as voice-overs 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 (1926-2013)

- IMDb Mini Biography By: <garyrick96@hotmail.com>

Family (4)

Spouse 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 - 18 November 1964)  (divorced)
Katy Jurado (31 December 1959 - 3 June 1963)  (divorced)
Rhoda Kemins (2 September 1949 - 29 August 1958)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Children Diana Rancourt-Borgnine
Sharon Borgnine
Nancee Borgnine
Cris Borgnine
Parents Camillo Borgnino
Anna Boselli
Relatives Evelyn Velardi (sibling)

Trade Mark (5)

The role of Mermaid Man in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999).
Frequently played villainous roles.
Gruff, but gentle voice.
Machiavellian eyebrows.
Gap between his two front teeth.

Trivia (95)

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 (1996) and had both knees replaced (1999).
Was the very first "center square" on The Hollywood Squares (Daytime) (1965) (during its premiere week in October 1966).
Auditioned for the lead role in the romantic drama Marty (1955) while shooting Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) in Lone Pine, CA.
Periodically performed as the "Grand Clown" for The Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee, WI, since the 1970s.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (1996).
Was an active Freemason and had been the Honorary Chairman of the Scottish Rite RiteCare Program, which sponsors 175 Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs nationwide.
Was a Master Mason and had been elevated to the 33rd Degree in Scottish Rite.
Had 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 (1970), The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)The Oscar (1966), and The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
Was made an honorary US Navy Chief Petty Officer by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Terry Scott on 10/15/04. Before acting, he served in the navy for ten years, from 1935-45, and left the service as a Gunner's Mate First 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.
Referenced in 'Weird Al' Yankovic's song "Your Horoscope for Today".
His automobile's 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," he recalled in a 2001 interview. "And after 32 days I said to her, 'Madam, bye'." Borgnine went on to marry twice more - with his fifth marriage lasting over 39 years until his death - but Merman remained single after their divorce. In her 1978 autobiography, she devoted a chapter to the marriage - It consisted of one blank page.
Made a special Academy Awards appearance at The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998), and at The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) and participated in the Oscar Winners Tribute sequence along with other Academy Award winners.
Father of Sharon Borgnine (born August 5, 1965), Cris Borgnine (born August 9, 1969) and Diana Rancourt-Borgnine (born December 29, 1970) with Donna Rancourt. Daughter Nancee Borgnine (aka Gina Kemins-Borgnine) (born August 18, 1952) with Rhoda Kemins.
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 6, 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) 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 his "heartfelt advocacy on behalf of military personnel and veterans on many fronts, including the California National Guard".
Was the only actor to star in all four "Dirty Dozen" films.
In 2007, he became the first male Oscar winner for Best Actor to still be alive on his 90th birthday, and in 2012, became the first male Oscar winner for Best Actor to still be alive (and working) on his 95th birthday.
Best known by the public for his starring role as the title character in McHale's Navy (1962).
His former McHale's Navy (1962) co-star, Tim Conway, was reunited with him in having a recurring role on SpongeBob SquarePants (1999), on separate episodes of each show.
Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6324 Hollywood Blvd. on February 8, 1960.
His second ex-wife Katy Jurado, passed away in 2002. He referred to her as "beautiful, but a tiger".
According to his autobiography, "Ernie", he only has three children: Nancee Borgnine, from his first wife, Rhoda Kemins, and Sharon Borgnine and Cris Borgnine from his wife, Donna Rancourt.
His fifth wife, Tova Borgnine, was 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 with tuberculosis, just days before his first wedding.
Was an active Republican.
Before he was a successful actor, he worked in a variety of factory and warehousing jobs.
Was presented with the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2011 by Morgan Freeman and Tim Conway.
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 West Village Tex-Mex restaurant on the corner of West 12th and Washington in New York City, had an obsession with Borgnine from the mid-1980s to its closure in October 2018. A booth was completely covered in his photos and the restaurant had a yearly "Ernest Borgnine Night". Staff members were put through rigorous Borgnine trivia training when hired. While he had no involvement in the restaurant, he made occasional visits, and wore one of their shirts when filming Captiva Island (1995). The annual celebration gained national prominence when featured on CBS News Sunday Morning: Episode dated 22 February 2009 (2009) in February 2009, with John Turturro and his son among the party goers in attendance--Ernest himself was there at the end of the night (via loudspeaker phone), wishing everyone well and to "have one [a drink] for me".
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.
He 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.
He 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 the picture actually came close to being made, but in the end it fell through.
Alongside Norman Lloyd, William Daniels, Angela Lansbury, Mickey Rooney, Betty White, Dick Van Dyke, Edward Asner, Celeste Holm, Christopher Lee, Adam West, Marla Gibbs, William Shatner, Larry Hagman, Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones, Hal Linden and Alan Alda, Borgnine was one of the few screen actors who lived into their 80s and/or 90s without ever either retiring from acting or having stopped getting work.
Said that at one point, he was considering making the United States Navy a career--he spent ten years there--but his mother talked him into becoming an actor.
His film career spanned 61 years, from 1951 to 2012, His first leading role was his Oscar-winning performance in Marty (1955), his last leading role was at age 95 in The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez (2012).
Was one of the main influences for George Lucas in creating the character Dexter Jettster for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and years later for the character of Pao in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).
Passed away on July 8, 2012, at age 95, and within three months of four other television legends who were also born in 1917, either aged 94 or 95: Ann Rutherford, Celeste Holm, Phyllis Diller and Herbert Lom; and only five days after Andy Griffith, born in 1926.
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 of 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, he was asked by members of Facebook what actor he would have loved to have worked with but hadn't until that time. He mentioned only one: Peter O'Toole, stating he'd been friends with him for years and that O'Toole had a wonderful attitude he'd always admired. On July 10, 2012, two days after Borgnine's death, O'Toole announced his retirement from acting.
Guest-starred in the last two episodes of the medical drama ER (1994).
Was the producers' first choice for the lead role in McHale's Navy (1962).
His idols when he was very young were Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey.
Attended and graduated from James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, CT (1935).
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).
His family moved to New Haven, CT, in 1923 when he was six.
His parents were Charles B. Borgnino and Anna (Boselli) Borgnine, who was an Italian countess. Both were Italian immigrants.
Celebrated his 90th birthday at a local bistro in West Hollywood, CA, 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; his grandson, Anthony Borgnine; Debbie Reynolds; Connie Stevens; Larry Manetti; and Don Rickles, among many others.
Attended his best friend Michael Landon's funeral (1991).
On McHale's Navy (1962) he played a US Navy officer on a PT boat. In real life, Borgnine had been a Navy NCO (Gunner's Mate) on the USS Slyph (PY-12), a yacht taken into Navy service as a small patrol vessel and equipped with various guns and depth charges.
Acting mentor and friends with Tim Conway.
He 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.
After the success of RED (2010), his final Hollywood studio film, he always held out hope he'd be around to reprise his role as Henry the records keeper in the 2013 sequel. When interviewed in April 2012, he mentioned there was talk about it over the years and made one request to the producers: "I told them if they do it, I want to carry a gun this time". He kept in touch with screenwriters Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber and, in the end, would have had a major role in a sequence at the start of the movie. When he passed away three months prior to the start of production, his scenes were reconfigured and would feature an uncredited Titus Welliver.
While resting between takes in his dressing room during the filming of Three Brave Men (1956) on the 20th Century-Fox lot, he received a visit from Tom Parker, the manager of Elvis Presley, presenting him with an armful of Elvis records. Elvis had heard of Borgnine defending his singing while making his acting debut in Love Me Tender (1956), also filming on another soundstage on the lot--Elvis had sent the records over in appreciation but was too shy to present them himself, never getting past the dressing room door. Borgnine said, "Well, we'll have to do something about that", telling Parker to make sure Elvis stopped by the following day. When Elvis eventually did come by, he could hear his record "Hound Dog" blaring out from the room and painted on the dressing room door were the words "Elvis Borgnine".
His parents separated when he was two years old, and he and his mother resided in Italy for about 4-1/2 years.
According to The Single Guy (1995) series' lead, Jonathan Silverman, Borgnine came to work with more energy and passion than all other stars combined. He was the first person to arrive on the set every day and the last to leave.
He returned to his parents' house in Connecticut after his discharge for the United States Navy without a job to go back to and no direction.
Survived by four children, his wife and one sister.
He received his 50-year pin as a Freemason in Abingdon Lodge #48, Abingdon, VA (2000).
Resided in Los Angeles, CA, for over 60 years, from 1951-2012. Resided in the same Beverly Hills, CA, home that he bought (1965).
In 1995, he toured the United States in his customized bus "The Sunbum" to meet his fans and see the country. The trip was the subject of a documentary, Ernest Borgnine on the Bus (1997) directed by Jeff Krulik, best known for Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986). On his return from this bus tour, he went back to television in a co-starring role in The Single Guy (1995), one of the TV series that were part of NBC's "Must See Thursday" lineup, programmed between Friends (1994) and Seinfeld (1989) during the 1995-96 season. The show would move to Wednesday nights for its 1996-97 final season, one the highest-rated shows overall to ever be canceled in its second season.
In 1962, he was the last actor to have joined the ranks of other sitcom male lead stars, such as John Forsythe, Andy Griffith, Danny Thomas, Alan Young, Robert Young, Fred MacMurray and Buddy Ebsen (whose sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), debuted just two weeks before Borgnine's) to star in his own popular sitcom, McHale's Navy (1962).
Until 1962, he was a heavy smoker. He quit that year, and became a militant anti-smoker.
Was physically healthy and active until his death at age 95.
His younger sister, Evelyn Borgnine Velardi, resided in San Francisco, CA. She passed away in 2013, just 17 days before what would have been her 88th birthday.
In 1997, he was the commencement speaker at Lakeland College, and received an honorary doctorate in humane letters in recognition of his distinguished acting career.
He took and graduated from acting studies, auditioned and was accepted as an intern to the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. The theater got its name from the director's practice of allowing audiences to barter produce for admission during the cash-lean years of the Great Depression.
His mother, Anna (Boselli) Borgnine, wanted him to be named after Hermes from Greek mythology. His father, Charles Borgnino, wanted his son to be named Effron.
He was named the Veterans Foundation's Veteran of the Year.
On McHale's Navy (1962), his character spoke Italian, as Borgnine did in real-life.
At age 91, he wrote an autobiography, "Ernie", which is a loose, conversational recollection of highlights from his acting career and notable events from his personal life.
His parents legally changed his name from Ermes Effron Borgnino to Ernest Borgnine, to alternate different last letters of his name.
Though he occasionally feuded with Mickey Rooney, they were also great friends and worked together many times over the years, notably in the opening of The 50th Annual Academy Awards (1978), in Outlaws: The Legend of O.B. Taggart (1995), the screenplay written by Rooney, and Night Club (2011). In Hollywood on the evening of July 9, 2012, was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the filming of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) hosted by Billy Crystal featuring many of the movie's cast and crew. Ernest had passed away the day before and Rooney went on stage that evening, mentioned this fact and asked the audience for a moment's silence in remembrance. This event was filmed and later released as The Last 70mm Film Festival (2014).
Had attended Yale University, where he majored in math and hated this; he transferred to the Randall School of Dramatic Arts in Hartford, CT, paid for by the G.I. Bill.
His grandfather had been the financial adviser to King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
Had appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: From Here to Eternity (1953) and Marty (1955).
Although he played Kirk Douglas' father in The Vikings (1958), he was six weeks his junior in real life. He also played Tony Curtis' father in the same film in spite of being only eight years his senior.
His wife Donna was a stand-in for Yvonne De Carlo in The Munsters (1964). Her brother was the stuntman Phil Adams.
One of his favorite hobbies was stamp collecting. He started as a boy collecting stamps and never settled on any issue or specialization; he did have an extensive collection of Russian and Cuban stamps collected during the Cold War period. He would go on to become a member of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) from September 1975 through January 1984 and in 1978 starred in public service announcements in print and television for the US Postal Service, promoting their "50th Anniversary Year of Talking Pictures" and "Surrender at Saratoga" Commemoratives. He admitted in later years that because of his work and traveling he gradually let his collecting go but would always in the years that followed promote the art of stamp collecting at every opportunity.
He was considered for the role of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) before Marlon Brando was cast.
Though he was in all three sequels to The Dirty Dozen (1967), he was not in the sequel to McHale's Navy (1964) made the following year McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force (1965). In later years he told interviewers that he never got a clear explanation why the movie had been made without him despite the original's box-office success and that he was amazed that he hadn't even been asked to appear in it, saying that theater owners criticized him, thinking he had refused to do the movie. Theories as to why he wasn't asked include the fact that Universal and producer Edward Montagne wanted to keep the production's budget low as well as develop Joe Flynn and Tim Conway into a starring team for a theatrical movie franchise the way Montagne would eventually do with Don Knotts in the years to come. Borgnine would shrug this setback off very fast and accept one of the main roles in the all-star Robert Aldrich production The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), would go on and star in the TV series' 1965-66 final season and decades later be the only original McHale's cast member included in the remake/sequel McHale's Navy (1997).
His family had a garden in the back yard and Borgnine recalled the hours he spent working there with great fondness. His mother oversaw the gardening so that it included vegetables to eat and flowers for the kitchen table. He recalled that the garden grew larger and the vegetables it yielded became more central to the family's meals after the stock market crashed in 1929. He so took to working the soil that he signed on at a nearby farm picking peaches and apples.
In 1971, he returned to Hamden, CT, for a reunion and spent hours visiting familiar sites and reminiscing with town residents.
His 1964 marriage to Tony-winning Broadway legend Ethel Merman, which lasted less than five months, served as fodder for many a stand-up comic's routines.
After he tried to break his contract with Burt Lancaster's production company, Lancaster tried to force him to appear in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) as Frank D'Angelo, but Borgnine refused to do so.
In 1965, Albert Finney formed Memorial Films in association with Michael Medwin to produce theatrical features, which included Charlie Bubbles (1968), If.... (1968), Gumshoe (1971), Bleak Moments (1971) and O Lucky Man! (1973)--their final production was one of Borgnine's best-known movies of the 1970s, Law and Disorder (1974).
He has appeared in five films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: From Here to Eternity (1953), Johnny Guitar (1954), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Marty (1955) and The Wild Bunch (1969).
He didn't show any interest in acting until he was twenty-eight years old.
He went from acting for the first time to winning an Academy Award for Best Actor in just ten years.
He never retired from acting and worked right up until his death at the age of ninety-five.

Personal Quotes (25)

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 [in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)]. 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 Brokeback Mountain (2005)] I didn't see it and I don't care to see it . . . If John Wayne were alive, he'd be rolling over in his grave.
[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.
[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 Woodward, 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 40-something Lt. Cmdr. 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)] 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 [his character on McHale's Navy (1962)] was always trying to put one over on the captain. Sam Hill [his character in Who Killed the Mysterious Mr. Foster? (1971)] 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 (1962) 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, about being under contract to a studio] No, thanks. I was under contract once, to Hecht-Hill-Lancaster. It cost me $500,000 to get out of it.
[in 1965 of his off-camera feud with McHale's Navy (1962) producer Edward Montagne] When Universal told me that [he] 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".
[in 1966 about his reputation for being temperamental] 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.
No Stanislavsky. I don't chart out the life histories of the people I play. If I did, I'd be in trouble. I work with my heart and my head, and naturally emotions follow ... If none of that works, I think to myself of the money I'm making.

Salary (2)

From Here to Eternity (1953) $700 a week
Marty (1955) $5,000

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