Obituary: Ernest Borgnine

With his stocky build, bulging eyes and gap-toothed, pugnacious features, Ernest Borgnine, who has died aged 95, was one of Hollywood’s leading character actors.

His looks meant he often ended up playing the heavy, so it was, perhaps, a mark of his versatility that his only Oscar came for his role as the good natured Marty, in the 1955 film of the same name.

He added longevity to that versatility, being nominated for an Emmy when he was in his 90s.

Ernest Effron Borgnino was born on 24 January 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut, the son of Italian immigrants. His parents moved to New Haven in 1923 and changed the family name to Borgnine.

He had no early ambition to be an actor and, on leaving high school in 1935, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Discharged in 1941 he joined up again after Pearl Harbor and served until the end of the war.

On his return to civilian life he began working in a number of factory jobs until his mother suggested that his forceful personality might find more fulfilling expression on the stage — via

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