Some belated tribute is in order for Ernest Borgnine, the distinctive character actor who passed away at the age of 95 on Sunday.
Borgnine got his break in Hollywood in a supporting role in “From Here to Eternity,” which would remain one of his career-best turns. The Academy made a daringly unconventional choice by choosing him for their Best Actor award in 1955 for “Marty,” a quiet character study of a warm-hearted butcher (Borgnine beat Frank Sinatra, James Dean, James Cagney and Spencer Tracy, so no small feat). His career continued successfully for decades after that, with roles in “Johnny Guitat,” “Bad Day at Black Rock,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Wild Bunch,” “The Poseidon Adventure” and “Escape from New York.” Borgnine also featured in a number of successful television shows, from the lead of “McHale’s Navy” to supporting and cameo roles in “The Love Boat,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Walker Texas Ranger,” “ER,” and, of course, his beloved voicing of Mermaid Man on “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
It’s a shame that many in the blogging community now remember him as “that old guy who refused to see “Brokeback Mountain” (his outdated moral/political views that led to that declaration were also a shame, of course). He became a symbol for the Academy’s out of touch majority demographic, fairly or not. In any case, it’s always a shame to see another of the last remnants of old Hollywood pass away.