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Ernest Borgnine acted for some of the all-time great directors

July 08, 2012|By Susan King
  • Ernest Borgnine displays the Oscar, left, and Golden Globe he received for the 1955 movie "Marty." Borgnine died Sunday at age 95.
Ernest Borgnine displays the Oscar, left, and Golden Globe he received… (Ric Francis / Associated…)

Ernest Borgnine , who died Sunday at age 95, worked with some of the greatest directors of the 20th century.

He first caught the eye of moviegoers in 1953 in Fred Zinnemann's Oscar-winning best film "From Here to Eternity," in which he played the savage Fatso Judson, the sergeant of the guard of the stockade who beats Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) to death.

Two years later, the burly character actor became a bona-fide star as a lonely Italian butcher desperate for love in "Marty," directed by Delbert Mann and penned by Paddy Chayesfky. The film was based on a live 1953 TV drama that starred Rod Steiger in the title role.

PHOTOS: Ernest Borgnine | 1917-2012

As wonderful as Steiger was in the role on TV, Borgnine was truly heartbreaking, especially when he tells his mother, "Ma, sooner or later, there comes a point in a man's life when he's gotta face some facts. And one fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain't got."

The low-budget film was a surprise hit, winning the first Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the event's highest honor. It went on to earn four top Academy Awards, including an Oscar for Borgnine, as well as numerous other accolades.

Though he never again had a role as rich as that of  Marty, Borgnine worked with Sam Peckinpah in 1969's "The Wild Bunch," Robert Aldrich in  1967's "The Dirty Dozen" and 1973's "Emperor of the North" and Ronald Neame in 1972's "The Poseidon Adventure," to name just a few.

And he continued to work into his 90s.  In 2007, he received a Golden Globe nomination for the Hallmark Channel movie "A Grandpa for Christmas."

The morning of the nomination, he told The Times that acting kept him young.

"You die in the vine if you just sit down in a chair and get old," he said. "That is no way to do it."

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PHOTOS: Ernest Borgnine | 1917-2012

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