TV has lost another icon. Ernest Borgnine, who played the fun-loving PT-boat commander Quinton McHale from 1962-66, and who won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in "Marty," died today of renal failure.
A consummate professional, Borgnine's most recent award nomination came when he was 92 years old: for a guest spot on "ER" in 2009.
The Wrap has a complete obituary.
But movie and TV fans don't need much of a reminder. They'll always remember him as outlaw leader Pike Bishop's right-hand man in Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch," and they'll never forget his performance as the intimidating Sgt. "Fatso" Judson in "From Here to Eternity." Nor will they forget his performance as a black-hearted railroad conductor in "Emperor of the North."
Despite winning an Oscar for playing an average guy in "Marty," Borgnine was anything but average as Lt. Commander Quinto McHale, the scamming, fun-loving PT-Boat commander who reminded audiences of TV's Sergeant Bilko (opening credits). For that, he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. For five seasons McHale and his "pirates" found ways to enjoy themselves and profit from the War in the Pacific, though they never let their fun interfere with their duty. With Tim Conway playing off of him as Ensign Parker, Borgnine was a welcome sight in living rooms across America. Later, he would star in "Airwolf" and finish his TV career as the voice of Mermaid Man in "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Borgnine, who also had a tremendous sense of humor, was married five times and said of his union with singer Ethel Merman, "Biggest mistake of my life. I thought I was marrying Rosemary Clooney."
He could ruffle feathers, but that only made the public adore him all the more, because it made him seem like one of his most beloved characters, Lt. Commander McHale.
And how would he like to be remembered? According to an interview that he gave David Fantle and Tom Johnson, he said, "As a legacy, on the day I die, I'd like to have a newspaper publish all the things that I find wrong in the United States today. And my first would be to get rid of the politicians. We put politicians in Congress and the Senate for what? For representation. But who do they represent? They represent not only their party, but the people who give them the money, the lobbyists."
Amen. And rest in peace.