Ernest Borgnine, one of Hollywood’s most durable character actors has died at the age of 95 this afternoon. Sometimes playing a villain, other times triumphing in roles such as MARTY, or in McHALE’S NAVY as the wanker navy officer in charge of the worst bunch in the whole navy, Ernest Borgnine seemed at home both in drama or in comedy as a straight man presence.
Borgnine had a certain rough and uncouth style that seemed to make him one of the greatest character actors of our generation. In McHALE’S NAVY he seemed to play a great funny crooked and corrupt navy commander. You would really laugh at his schemes to use his navy time to profit and make illegal money from gambling, etc. McHALE’s NAVY also did well because of the comic antics of actor Tim Conway, who played a goofy buffoon compared to the straight man foil of Ernest Borgnine.
In later years, Borgnine was featured as the voice of the Mermaid Man on the children’s cartoon show, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.
In his private life, Ernest Borgnine tended to be a political conservative that donated money to Republican Party causes, giving some candidates a celebrity endorsement.
Due to his good health in his late years, Ernest Borgnine remained active as an actor up until only very recently, long after many more actors had either retired or died. Ernest Borgnine was probably the oldest popular actor who still was active and getting work.
His presence will be greatly missed. His unique style of acting made him a real asset to anything he did, where his voice was immediately recognizable.
It’s so deeply sad to learn of the death of America’s oldest active actor.
BTW: A little known fact about the McHALE’s NAVY PT 103 was that the boat was only photographed from one side, and the image reversed for views from the other side because the same boat was used by Universal Studios with German navy markings on the other side of the boat for other Universal war movies. You’ll never see the same boat photographed from the German marked side for this odd reason in any McHALE’S NAVY episode.