Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine dead at 95

Sun Jul 8, 2012 9:29pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Ernest Borgnine, whose barrel-chested, bulldog looks made him a natural for tough-guy roles in films like "From Here to Eternity" but who won an Oscar for playing a sensitive loner in "Marty," died on Sunday at age 95, his publicist said.

The real-life U.S. Navy veteran who became a household name during the 1960s by starring as the maverick commander of a World War Two patrol boat in the popular television comedy "McHale's Navy," died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, longtime spokesman Harry Flynn said.

Borgnine, who continued to work until very recently, had been the oldest living recipient of an Academy Award for best actor, Flynn said.

A statement from the actor's family said he "had been in excellent health until a recent illness." Flynn said Borgnine recovered from unspecified surgery he underwent a month ago but his condition deteriorated rapidly after he visited the hospital on Tuesday for a medical checkup.

His last screen credit was the lead role of an aging nursing home patient in a film set for release later this year, "The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez." The performance earned Borgnine a best actor award at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where it debuted in April, Flynn said.

With his burly profile, gruff voice and gap-toothed leer, Borgnine was on the verge of being typecast as the bad guy early in his career, following a string of convincing performances as the heavy in such films as "Johnny Guitar" in 1954 and "Bad Day at Black Rock in 1955."

Borgnine's most memorable turn as a menacing tough guy was his breakout role in the 1953 Oscar-winning film "From Here to Eternity" as the sadistic Sergeant "Fatso" Judson, who terrorizes and eventually kills Frank Sinatra's character, Private Angelo Maggio.


Actor Ernest Borgnine is shown in a scene from his 1971 film "Hannie Caulder" in this undated publicity photograph. REUTERS/Paramount Pictures/Handout