Ernest Borgnine, an Academy Award-winning actor who played a burly, bawdy Navy PT boat commander on ``McHale's Navy,'' died today in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 95.
Publicist Harry Flynn revealed that Borgnine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The winner of a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild, Borgnine was in movies and on TV from the early 1950s until recently. He shot to internet fame in 2008 when he answered a morning TV host's question about how he stayed healthy by crediting his vigor to frequent exercise of a most-personal nature.
Born Ermes Borgnine in Connecticut in 1917 to Italian immigrant parents, he turned to acting after a 10-year career in the U.S. Navy he finished at the end of World War II.
Borgnine worked the boards on Broadway before appearing on a 1951 kids TV show, ``Captain Video And His Video Rangers.'' He appeared on dozens of live
TV shows in the dawning age of television.
His big Hollywood break was ``From Here To Eternity'' in 1953, where he memorably beat up Frank Sinatra.
His starring role in ``Marty,'' as a very simple love-struck man, a butcher by trade, was hailed as the first time mainstream America embraced a leading character with mental difficulties.
He starred in a TV adaptation of the novel, then took the role to the big screen. It earned him the Academy Award for best actor in 1955, besting Sinatra, Spencer Tracy and James Cagney.
It was the invention of three-camera film sitcoms that elevated Borgnine to the pantheon of golden era TV stars. ``McHale's Navy'' starred Borgnine as a Conniving, lazy, gambling Navy commander of a PT boat on a nameless tropical
isle, his days spent bedeviling his commanding officer, played by Joe Flynn, and fumbling with his bumbling adjutant, played by Tim Conway.
A later generation met him as Dominic Santini on the 1980s series ``Airwolf.'' And even a later batch of Americans were entertained by Borgnine as he lent his voice to elderly superhero Mermaid Man on ``SpongeBob SquarePants'' -- again co-starring with Conway.
A street in his hometown of Hamden, Conn. is named in his honor.
Borgnine was married five times. Plans for his funeral have not been announced.
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- City News Service