Oscar-winning movie star Ernest Borgnine has died at the age of 95.
The beefy American actor was known for blustery, often villainous roles, yet won the best actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in Marty in 1955.
His spokesman, Harry Flynn, said Borgnine died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre with his wife and children at his side yesterday.
Borgnine, who endeared himself to a generation of baby-boomers with the 1960s US TV comedy McHale’s Navy, first attracted notice in the early 1950s in villain roles, notably as the vicious Fatso Judson, who beat Frank Sinatra to death in From Here to Eternity.
Then came Marty, a low-budget film based on a Paddy Chayefsky television play, which starred Rod Steiger.
Borgnine won the Oscar and awards from the Cannes Film Festival, New York Critics and National Board of Review.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hailed the $360,000 Marty as best picture over big-budget contenders The Rose Tattoo, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, Picnic and Mister Roberts.
“The Oscar made me a star, and I’m grateful,” Borgnine said in 1966. “But I feel had I not won the Oscar I wouldn’t have gotten into the messes I did in my personal life.”
Those messes included four failed marriages, including one in 1964 to singer Ethel Merman that lasted less than six weeks.
But Borgnine’s fifth marriage, in 1973 to Norwegian-born Tova Traesnaes, endured.
Borgnine’s later films included Ice Station Zebra, The Adventurers, Willard, The Poseidon Adventure, The Greatest (as Muhammad Ali’s manager), Convoy, Ravagers, Escape from New York, Moving Target and Mistress.
More recently, Borgnine had a recurring role as the apartment house doorman-cum-chef in the NBC TV comedy The Single Guy. He had a small role in the unsuccessful 1997 movie version of McHale’s Navy And he was the voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants and Carface on All Dogs Go to Heaven 2.
On 24 January, 2007, Borgnine celebrated his 90th birthday with a party for friends and family at a West Hollywood bistro. His only concession to age had come at 88 when he gave up driving the bus he would take around the country.
During an interview, Borgnine complained he wanted to continue acting but most studio executives kept asking, “Is he still alive?”
“I just want to do more work,” he said.
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