Actor Ernest Borgnine, who died on July 8th, 2012 at 95, had a career so long that how he will be remembered will depend on your age bracket. For the World War II generation, he will forever be either Sgt. “Fatso” Judson, Frank Sinatra’s nemesis in 1953’s From Here to Eternity, or else the title character in 1955’s Marty, which brought him an Oscar; movie buffs will also know that he was one of both The Dirty Dozen and The Wild Bunch. For baby boomers, Borgnine is synonymous with Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale on the mid-'60s sitcom McHale’s Navy (some may also recall that he was the very first "center square" on The Hollywood Squares in 1965), while TV viewers in the ‘80s will know him as Jan-Michael Vincent’s sidekick in Airwolf. And so it goes, through literally hundreds of big and small screen roles right up into the new millennium, when the actor, then well into his nineties, found a whole new audience as the voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants.
Born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917, in Hamden, CT, Borgnine was the son of Italian immigrants. He turned to acting after spending ten years in the Navy, his first big break coming when he debuted on Broadway with a role in Harvey in 1949. Four marriages, including one to Ethel Merman that lasted all of one month (in her biography, Merman’s chapter about that union consisted of one blank page), ended in divorce before he married the former Tova Traesnaes in 1973.
In 2007, Borgnine became the oldest Golden Globe nominee ever, at 90, for the TV movie "A Grandpa for Christmas." It came 52 years after his only other Globe nomination, for "Marty," which he won. Although he didn't win that second time, Borgnine was as gracious as could be about it.