Home / Robert Farley / Ernest Borgnine RIP

Ernest Borgnine RIP


Ernest Borgnine has passed away. Sean Penn’s segment of September 11 was not particular good, but Borgnine’s late career performance was genuinely touching. A remarkable actor.

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  • Barry Freed

    Amazing actor. One of my favorites. And what a kick that he did Spongebob. One of the greats. RIP.

    • DrDick


  • Loved him in From Here to Eternity.

    • UberMitch

      Ned: Oh, Warren, I know your dad is in prison, but don’t you fret! A special celebrity dad has been arranged for you.
      Warren: But — my older brother would like —
      Ned: [cheerfully] Sorry, but I’m afraid Ernest Borgnine has already been confirmed.
      [Ernest Borgnine walks in laughing]
      Ernest: Hiya! I’m sure you kids know me best as Sergeant Fatso Judson in “From Here to Eternity.”

      • Yeah, I went there too.

  • AcademicLurker

    Come on now. Everyone knows that his finest hour was The Devil’s Rain.

    • AcademicLurker

      I kid.

      I thought he was great in Bad Day at Black Rock.

  • The Wild Bunch has been in my DVR since early Feb. Maybe I should get around to watching it, not getting any younger myself.

  • thebewilderness

    McHales Navy!

    • Bill Murray


  • Murc

    But… but who will guide Airwolf now?

    • Eric

      This. I loved Dom Santini as a kid.

  • wjts

    His turn as Dutch Engstrom in The Wild Bunch was probably his best role, but I’m also very fond of his performances in The Dirty Dozen and Escape from New York.

    • He was basically perfect as Dutch Engstrom.

    • DocAmazing

      He was perfect as Cabbie. Everybody knows that!

      • Halloween Jack

        He really was the perfect counterpoint to Kurt Russell literally gritting his teeth constantly trying to break out of the kid actor typecasting that his career had been up to that point.

  • Spuddie

    OK I guess I will have to be the one to show the video about Mr. Borgnine’s secret to his longevity

    Nothing but love for one of the finest character actors ever. He is one of those from the generation which never saw a role he could ever turn down. Ever. Every role made special. Adding a touch of class to even the worst drek produced by Italian rip-off artists. That kind of showmanship is a lost art.

    A man who embodied the quote from Michael Caine, “I choose the great roles, and if none of these come, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don’t come, I choose the ones that pay the rent.”

    • Joe

      Yes — he continued to have roles into his 90s, which Caine probably will do if he lives that long. IMDB says he just completed another film:

      Ernest Borgnine plays Rex Page, an old man who is bitter about never becoming famous and having lived a life without any meaning. After suffering a stroke, he ends up in a nursing home staffed by Latin American immigrants. Put off by the situation, Rex focuses his energy on getting out, which places him at odds with the Latino workers. However, their relationship takes on new meaning when it is discovered that he once shook hands with Vicente Fernandez, a Mexican singer, producer and actor idolized throughout Latin culture. The employees soon begin to treat Rex like the celebrity he’s always dreamed of being.

  • Bruce Baugh

    He first really registered on me as the old sergeant in the version of All Quiet on the Western Front with Richard Thomas in the lead.

    • Gus

      Yes! I remember that. With John Boy in the role of Paul. He was quite good in that.

  • Matt T. in New Orleans

    My brother met Mr. Borgnine once, years ago. He (my brother) was going to school at a small university in north Alabama, and Mr. Borgnine gave the commencement address one year. The college also gave him an honorary doctorate even though the college lacked a doctoral program. The year before, they gave one to George “Goober” Lindsey, who died earlier this year. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

    Anyhow, my brother worked sound for the commencement and served as sort of the go-between between the sound folk and Mr. Borgnine. A phenomenally sweet human being, very gracious and friendly, my brother says, and definitely the nicest “big-time celebrity” my brother ever met. Deaf as a post, apparently, but a solid cat all the way around.

    The Wild Bunch is a favorite. He was also good in Escape From New York.

  • Joseph Slater

    I actually saw this whole movie (“Ernest Borgnine on the Bus”), and it was actually quite good.


  • Kurzleg

    TCM/Robert Osborne did a pretty good interview with Borgnine that you can get as a Podcast at iTunes. His age has begun to show a little bit, but it’s interesting regardless. He led quite a life.

    I loved that Borgnine kept working until the end. It thrilled me to see him in a small role in “Gattaca.” His simple presence in the film provided a needed connection to the reality we know currently and made what happens seem a bit less fantastic.

    I don’t know that I have a favorite film of Borgnine’s, but if I do, it’s probably “Marty.” Not a great film, but certainly a great performance.

    • thebewilderness

      That was a great performance. Absolutely.

      • c u n d gulag

        I loved him in every role, he was a great, great actor.

        And he was great in “Marty.”
        But, much as I hate to admit it, Rod Steiger was even better in the TV version – and that version was better than the movie, too.

        Still, I’m glad he won an Oscar for it, since Steiger won one for “In the Heat of the Night.”

        Both were great actors.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    Who can forget Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders?

  • grouchomarxist

    “Watcha gonna do tonight, Marty?”

    Just call me a sentimental slob, but I still love that movie. And The Catered Affair, too. Chayefsky and Borgnine, what a combination!

    Another of my favorites from around the time he did The Wild Bunch was the sadistic railroad conductor, Shack, in Emperor of the North. For my money, that was his career best turn as a heavy.

    And who can forget Ragnar Hairybreeks, from The Vikings?


    My DVD copy of TV has some stills of Borgnine clowning around on the passenger ship they chartered so the actors and crew would have a place to stay while they were filming in the fjord. According to Janet Leigh, he was quite the cut-up.

    I still have a hard time getting my mind around the fact he thought marrying Ethel Merman would be a good idea …

    Damn, but lately the good ones sure do seem to be dropping like flies. R.I.P., Ernest.

    • Kurzleg

      Damn, but lately the good ones sure do seem to be dropping like flies.

      Sure does. I don’t know if you’d put Charles Durning up there with Borgnine, but he’s quite an actor and, sadly, probably not long for this world.

      There’s a scene in the mildly entertaining “Lake Boat” written by Mamet in which Durning and George Wendt are discussing Nazi sidearms. Wendt insists there was something called the “Walther-Luger,” but Durning assures him that wasn’t the case, explaining “I was there, my friend. I was there.” Which happened to be true, as he landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

      • c u n d gulag

        I did a couple of staged readings with Durning back in the mid-late 90’s. No one-on-one scenes with him, though.

        What a nice and wonderful man he was to us nobodies.
        No attitude.
        Shared acting tips.
        Deaf as a post. But never missed a cue – well, to be fair, he was deaf, and it was a staged READING, so he could still read, even if he couldn’t hear if someone had finished delivering the line before his. On the line before his was coming up, he’d look at the actor delivering it, and when he/she finished, quickly looked back at his script and delivered his line.
        I know that sounds easy, but it’s really not.

        He was in very bad health even then – it’s a miracle he’s still alive today.

        • Kurzleg

          Thanks for sharing that. It’s always nice to hear that celebrities one admires are also decent people.

  • KLG

    What, no love for “Willard”?

    • Njorl

      He prefers “Mitt”.

  • Borgnine went from actor to cariacature to parody and back to actor across 6 decades. He was a great talent who had an amazing career.

  • I’m kinda surprised no one mentioned “Bad Day At Black Rock,” arguably his best performance, Marty included.

    • Kurzleg

      Black Rock was a smaller role, but yeah, he was good in that too.

  • Njorl

    Will he be buried in the blue suit or the grey suit?

  • Davis

    Mean in From Here to Eternity, sweet in Marty, both believable. Too bad the clip from The Wild Bunch doesn’t include the seconds after they slit Angel’s throat.

  • A very dirty pleasure is “The Vikings” where he plays Kirk Douglas’ father even though he was about 6 months younger then Douglas.

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