I generally don’t pay too much attention when celebrities pass away, and I’ve never blogged about one. Death is, after all, something that will eventually happen to everyone. But every once in a while someone dies that I feel a special connection with, and Ernest Borgnine is one of those people.
I not only grew up watching McHale’s Navy, it was one of my all-time favorite programs and was one of the reasons I enlisted in the Navy when it came time to serve my country.
But it was his movies that forged that connection with him. Mr. Borgnine always lit up the screen. No matter who else was in a scene, my eyes always gravitated to him. He seldom starred in a movie, but his support roles often overshadowed the stars, in my humble opinion. A few examples of this are The Wild Bunch, Poseidon Adventure, and Bad Day At Black Rock. I also thought he was brilliant as Fatso Judson in From Here To Eternity as the brutal stockade warden.
He was not particularly handsome so he never fit the leading-man roles, but he was a brilliant actor who could wring so much emotion out of a role, much like Jackie Gleason and Rod Steiger.
He died at age 95, which is a gratifyingly long life. One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Borgnine came from an interview when he was 90 years old. "I just want to do more work," he said. "Every time I step in front of a camera I feel young again. I really do. It keeps your mind active and it keeps you going."