Monday, July 09, 2012

Ernest Borgnine passes

Ernest Borgnine, the star of numerous films and television shows, passed yesterday of renal failure at the age of 95. 

Borgnine is perhaps best known for his role as the conniving skipper of a World War II PT boat in the 60s television comedy "McHale's Navy," but he was successful on the big screen as well.  His list of films include some of my favorites:
  • The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah's ground-breaking 1969 film;
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, the 1979 adaptation of the novel by Erich Maria Remarque;
  • Emperor of the North, Robert Aldrich's set-in-Oregon 1973 film about life on the railways during the Depression;
  • The Poseidon Adventure, the 1972 seminal disaster flick about a capsized passenger ship;
  • Marty, the touching 1955 film about a lonely man who fears he will never find love; Borgnine won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in this film.
When I was 10 years old, I met Ernest near Cottage Grove, Oregon, where he was researching his role for the upcoming Emperor of the North film.  My Grandpa Metzger convinced me that I should approach him for an autograph, which I did.

Ernest was very kind to me.  He laughed and patted the back of my head and signed, then took the time to ask me my name and age.  From that point on, he was my favorite actor.

Ernest and Lee Marvin having an honest exchange of ideas in Emperor of the North
Although many of his movie appearances had him playing the "heavy," Ernest Borgnine was also capable of subtlety and poignancy.  In the Marty flick, he delivers this touching soliloquy to his mother as he contemplates life as a bachelor:

"Sooner or later, there comes a point in a man's life when he's gotta face some facts. And one fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain't got it. I chased after enough girls in my life. I went to enough dances. I got hurt enough. I don't wanna get hurt no more."

Adieu, Mr. Borgnine.  You'll be missed.

No comments: