Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Actor Ernest Borgnine dies at 95

Oscar-winning American actor Ernest Borgnine has died (AP)
Oscar-winning American actor Ernest Borgnine has died (AP)

Oscar-winning film star Ernest Borgnine has died at the age of 95.

The beefy actor was known for blustery, often villainous roles, yet won the best actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in Marty in 1955. US television fans loved Borgnine as the scheming Navy officer in the TV comedy McHale's Navy.

His long-time spokesman Harry Flynn said Borgnine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles with his family by his side.

He was initially known as the heavy who beats up Frank Sinatra in From Here To Eternity and one of the thugs who menaces Spencer Tracy in Bad Day At Black Rock.

Then came Marty, a low-budget film based on a Paddy Chayefsky television play that starred Rod Steiger. Borgnine played a 34-year-old butcher who fears he is so unattractive he will never find romance. Then, at a dance, he meets a girl with the same fear.

Borgnine won the Oscar and awards from the Cannes Film Festival, New York Critics and National Board of Review.

"The Oscar made me a star and I'm grateful," Borgnine said in 1966. "But I feel had I not won the Oscar I wouldn't have gotten into the messes I did in my personal life."

Those "messes" included four failed marriages, including one in 1964 to singer Ethel Merman that lasted less than six weeks. But his fifth marriage, in 1973 to Norwegian-born Tova Traesnaes, endured.

Later in his career Borgnine made the transition to TV comedy. From 1962 to 1966, the navy veteran starred in McHale's Navy as the commander of a Second World War patrol boat with a crew of misfits and malcontents. More recently, Borgnine had a recurring role as the apartment house doorman-cum-chef in the NBC TV comedy The Single Guy.

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