Sunday, July 08, 2012

Ernest Borgnine, 1917-2012

Sad news broke this afternoon, the passing of one of the grand old men of the movies, Ernest Borgnine. The Oscar-winning actor was 95.

Borgnine's many credits included FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), JOHNNY GUITAR (1954), BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955), THREE BRAVE MEN (1956), THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967), ICE STATION ZEBRA (1968), THE WILD BUNCH (1969), and of course MARTY (1955).

As a child, I knew him from reruns of MCHALE'S NAVY, which originally ran from 1962 to 1966.

By all accounts Mr. Borgnine was a classy gentleman, who remained active till near the end, including starring in a 2011 Hallmark film, LOVE'S CHRISTMAS JOURNEY, and attending a TCM Cruise last December.

Ernest Borgnine's contributions to film over the decades are hard to adequately measure, and he will be missed.

Update: Turner Classic Movies will have a 24-hour tribute to Ernest Borgnine on July 26, 2012.

Update: Here's the TCM Remembers tribute video for Ernest Borgnine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great age, but very sad to hear all the same. Thanks for all the great memories and RIP Mr Borgnine.


11:29 PM  
Blogger Dave Enkosky said...

This is a bummer. I've always loved this guy. My favorite role of his is in Emperor of the North.

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a fanatastic actor who had a great career. Nice tribute RIP Ernest Borgnine

2:48 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

A wonderful actor always--no one seems to argue with that.

The TCM tribute is a good selection given all there is to choose from, especially the four evening ones which alternate two of his most sympathetic roles with two of his (really) bad guys.

Seeing him in person once and in TCM interview with Osborne and from all accounts, Borgnine appears to have been a sweet, gentle and down-to-earth guy. Playing the bad guys was not a natural thing for him but he quickly learned to do it so well you'd think it was.

Now to his sympathetic side, and I'm making a point to post this here, Laura, because I'm guessing that as the family person you are, you may have watched this with your children.

At 50 Westerns I agreed with a few people that probably Dutch in THE WILD BUNCH was my favorite of all his roles. I'll stand by that, but I was only thinking of movies. Later I thought of his role as a mysterious (let's face it, mystical) mountain man Jonathan in the two part episode "The Lord is My Shepherd" of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, one of the most dramatic shows ever around your namesake Laura/Melissa Gilbert. This was an amazing piece of work (written and directed by Michael Landon, who was tremendously gifted going by his LITTLE HOUSE shows), absolutely haunting and very moving. Borgnine's role was one of his most sympathetic yet also by its nature very difficult--he made the character believably human even though there was plainly another spiritual dimension to the whole thing. He was just so great in that. Do you know that show, Laura? Anyone here? It's worth seeking out, believe me.

4:22 PM  
Blogger James Corry said...

Blake, I saw "The Lord Is My Shepherd" back when it first aired in the early 70's and I never forgot it. In fact, I bought the first Season DVD set of "Little House On The Prairie" JUST to get that episode! Ernest Borgnine was, as usual, tremendous.


7:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on Ernest Borgnine!

Blake and Brad, I'm so interested that you know the "Lord is My Shepherd" episode of LITTLE HOUSE -- I love that you bought it, Brad! It was indeed a great piece of film/TV-making, thanks in large part to Borgnine's performance. The early years of LITTLE HOUSE were the best, including this show.

(I watched LITTLE HOUSE for the run of the entire series, but became frustrated with its lack of interest in including details from the life of the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, even when it would have been easy to do so. And while Michael Landon was a real talent, over time I came to feel that he used "tragic" episodes as a crutch -- in fact that tendency dates back to the "Forever" episode of BONANZA with Bonnie Bedelia. I vividly recall listening to that episode as a young child -- it was on past my bedtime but I could hear it from the other room! LOL.)

I wish I'd been able to see Mr. Borgnine when he appeared at a TCM screening of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY a couple years ago --

Best wishes,

8:38 PM  

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