Ernest Borgnine, who created a variety of memorable characters in both movies and television and won the best-actor Oscar for his role as a lovesick butcher in "Marty" in 1955, died Sunday. He was 95.
Borgnine's longtime spokesman, Harry Flynn, told The Associated Press that Borgnine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with his family by his side.
A prolific and talented character actor, Borgnine was known for gruff, villainous roles such as the heavy who beats up Frank Sinatra in "From Here to Eternity" and one of the bad guys who harasses Spencer Tracy in "Bad Day at Black Rock."
Borgnine, who earned a salary of $5,000 for playing his Academy-Award winning role Marty, once said "I would have done it for nothing."
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Borgnine, who was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on Jan. 24, 1917 in Hamden, Conn., began acting after serving in the Navy during World War II. He made his film debut in 1951's "Whistle at Eaton Falls" before winning an Academy Award four years later. He appeared in other notable films including "Jubal," "Flight of the Phoenix," "The Dirty Dozen,""The Wild Bunch," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Johnny Guitar," and "Escape from New York."
"No Stanislavsky. I don't chart out the life histories of the people I play," Borgnine told The New York Times in 1973 when asked about his acting methods. "If I did, I'd be in trouble. I work with my heart and my head, and naturally emotions follow."
Sometimes he prayed, he said, or just reflected on character-appropriate thoughts. "If none of that works," he added, "I think to myself of the money I'm making."
[Slideshow: Ernest Borgnine, his life in photos]
He was also known as the Navy officer in the television series "McHale's Navy," which aired from 1962-66. Younger audiences would know him as the voice of Mermaid Man in "Spongebob Squarepants."
Borgnine earned an Emmy Award nomination at age 92 for his work on the series "ER," and was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2011.
"The Oscar made me a star, and I'm grateful," AP reports that Borgnine told an interviewer 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."
The actor was married five times, including to singer Ethel Merman, who became his third wife in 1964. The marriage barely lasted a month.
He is survived by his fifth wife, Tova Traesnaes — whom he married in 1973 —his children Christofer, Nancee and Sharon Borgnine; a stepson, David Johnson; six grandchildren; and his sister, Evelyn Verlardi.
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