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Film and TV actor Ernest Borgnine dies

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Handsome matinee idols in Hollywood are a dime-a-dozen. Stocky, with a gap-toothed smile, Ernest Borgnine looked like your neighborhood butcher. As such, he was cast as the lead role in "Marty," about a lonely butcher finding love in the Big Apple back in 1955. Netting an Academy Award for that performance, Borgnine remained an in-demand actor who worked right up until his death this week at the age of 95.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A native of Connecticut, Borgnine conquered the small screen with the popular situation comedy "McHale's Navy." His bulldog looks and charisma landed him lots of bad guy roles in such classics as "From Here to Eternity," "Vera Cruz" and "Bad Day at Black Rock."

It was only after he took on the role of "Marty," a sympathetic schlep pining for life away from his neighborhood buddies that he gained recognition. While Borgnine was considered "old Hollywood," he broke the mold for leading men who previously had to be polished, suave and conventionally handsome. He opened the doors for other "non-leading man" types such as Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino, ethnic-looking men who won top roles on the basis of their raw acting talent.

In a film career that began in 1951, Borgnine appeared in more than 115 movies, including such staples as "Johnny Guitar," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "The Flight of the Phoenix," "The Oscar," "The Dirty Dozen,""The Wild Bunch,""Willard," "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Emperor of the North."

The son of Italian immigrants, Borgnine's parents separated when he was two years old, and his mother took him to live in Italy, returning after a few years.

Borgnine graduated from New Haven High School in 1935, then worked a few weeks as a vegetable truck driver before enlisting in the Navy as an apprentice seaman. He reenlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor and spent the war as a gunner's mate on a destroyer.

Borgnine returned home, unsure of what he was going to do. His mother suggested he try acting as she told him, "You're always making a fool of yourself in front of people."

Borgnine died of apparent kidney failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Borgnine went into the hospital "a couple of days ago" for a checkup, his publicist said.

In person, Borgnine was always gracious to his many fans and was thrilled to know that the world still desired his talents while in his nineties. One of his most recent roles was as the voice of Mermaid Man, an elderly superhero on the "SpongeBob SquarePants" cartoon show.

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