Ernest Borgnine, Oscar Winner for ‘Marty,’ Dead at 95

Ernest Borgnine won the Best Actor Oscar as a lovesick butcher in "Marty" in 1955 and went on to make more than 200 films and star in 5 TV series including "McHale's Navy"


Ernest Borgnine, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a lovesick butcher in "Marty" in 1955, died Sunday. He was 95.

Borgnine died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with his wife and children at his side, a spokesman told the Associated Press.

Borgnine appeared in more than 200 movies, including 1953’s Oscar-winning “From Here to Eternity,” “Bad Day at Black Rock,” and 1955’s “Marty,” which won the Oscar for best picture and earned Borgnine an Academy Award and Golden Globe. Other Borgnine films include “Johnny Guitar,” starring Joan Crawford; “Vera Cruz,” with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster; “The Catered Affair,” opposite Bette Davis; Robert Aldrich’s “The Dirty Dozen” and Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch.”

Borgnine also appeared in five television series, earning Emmy nominations on “McHale’s Navy” in 1963, the 1980 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of “All Quiet on the Western Front” and a Daytime Emmy nomination for his voiceover work on the animated “All Dogs Go to Heaven” series in 1999. At 92, he was nominated for an Emmy as guest actor for two episodes of "ER" in 2009, the show's final season.

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The son of Italian immigrants, he was born Ermes Effron Borgnino in 1917. His career spanned more than six decades and he was honored with the Life Achievement Award at the SAG Awards last year. Borgnine served on the guild's board of directors in 1962 and again from 1974 to 1977.

"For six decades, Ernie entertained us with an impressive body of work and, at the age of 95, he continued to have a remarkably busy life and career. We will genuinely miss his smile and generous, joyous spirit. Our deepest sympathies go out to Tova and the Borgnine family," SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard said in a statement Sunday.

Borgnine's first big break in films came in 1953, when he played the bully Fatso Judson in the movie "From Here to Eternity." He went on to play mainly heavies in a number of action movies, including "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Poseidon Adventure." One of his best known roles was the sadistic railroad conductor in 1973's "Emperor of the North."

In "Marty," Borgnine played against his tough-guy type as a 34-year-old who thinks he's too unnattractive to find love until he meets a woman (Betsy Blair) with the same fear. The low-budget film, written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Delbert Mann, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, over "The Rose Tattoo," ''Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," ''Picnic" and "Mister Roberts."

Borgnine — a Navy vet himself — starred in TV's  "McHale's Navy" as the commander of a World War II PT boat with a crew of misfits. He also co-starred in the mid-1980s action series "Airwolf." Youngsters know his voice as Mermaid Man in the animated TV series "SpongeBob SquarePants." 

Borgnine has four children and was married five times. One of his marriages was to Ethel Merman in 1964, but that lasted just 38 days. His final marriage came in 1973 to Tova Traesnaes. 

Here's a scene from "Marty":