Yesterday, we lost yet another hard-working, honest actor—Ernest Borgnine. Like many of you, I find this a difficult blow, particularly on the heels of losing Andy Griffith last week. I actually grew up watching Mr. Borgnine in, of all things, Airwolf, a show my dad enjoyed watching. Only later did I have the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Borgnine’s work in films such as the terrific From Here To Eternity (where the real-life nice guy Borgnine plays one of the most dislikable characters in film), a cameo in The Dirty Dozen, and, of course, Marty.
In addition to being a hard-workin’ man, Borgnine seemed, much like Griffith, to be a genuinely nice man. No, this Navy vet wasn’t perfect by any means (who among us is?), but he just seemed like a nice man. Best of all (in my opinion) was that despite his bad-guy rep, Ernest Borgnine never seemed to be without a smile when he was off-screen. Optimism and a cheerful disposition are big things in my book, and Borgnine seemed to have them in spades. Really, it is hard for me to picture him not smiling, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen From Here To Eternity (he doesn’t smile a whole lot in that movie if you haven’t seen it…and what, I ask, are you waiting for?!).
Like Griffith (I apologize for the continued comparison, but Griffith is of course on everyone’s mind, having died less than a week ago), Ernest Borgnine was a hard working actor. He did everything from feature films to television. The man liked to work. He wanted to be earning his keep, and I can’t tell you how much I respect that. Borgnine was also another honest actor. Frankly, I don’t think he got the respect he’s earned, either, from much of Hollywood—this despite the fact that at 95, the man was still auditioning for gigs and has a movie in which he features coming out soon—but again, like Griffith, he seemed to be much-loved by the general populace. Would you turn down a chance to go to a barbeque with either man? I sure wouldn’t! Again, honest fellas both.
If indeed Mr. Borgnine was always smiling off-screen—and I think he was!—we have lost yet another fine man and bright spot in our world.
I love a hard-working man just as much as I love a sweet Southern boy.
May you rest in peace, Mr. Borgnine. You will be missed, too. Thank you for leaving such a wide-ranging body of work for us to enjoy, including several truly stellar performances. May we all do our best to emulate your good nature.