Ernest Borgnine

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012) discusses his youth and the influence of his mother on his future acting ambitions. He reflects on enlisting in the Navy in the mid 1930s and on his service during World War II. He talks about his first appearances on television, including villainous roles on the DuMont children's science fiction show Captain Video and His Video Rangers, and speaks of the role for which he is most associated - that of "Marty" in the 1955 film of the same name. He details his experience working with writer Paddy Chayefsky and director Delbert Mann (who had collaborated on the original television version)— and recounts stories about his audition for the part and of his Oscar win for Best Actor. He details the popular 1960's sitcom McHale's Navy, describes the production schedule, and gives his impressions of the show's ensemble cast. Borgnine recalls appearing on The Hollywood Squares, The Tonight Show, and (in an Emmy-nominated performance) the television movie All Quiet on the Western Front. He chronicles his feature film roles in "From Here to Eternity" and in the disaster film classic "The Poseidon Adventure," and comments on his work with directors Robert Aldrich and Sam Peckinpah. He briefly speaks of his roles in the television series Airwolf, The Single Guy, and Spongebob Squarepants (he provides the voice of "Mermaid Man"). The remarkably vital 91-year-old Borgnine speaks with humor and enthusiasm and a clear zest for life. Henry Colman and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on October 10, 2008 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"When I decided to go into making 'McHale's Navy,' people said, 'Why are you lowering yourself?' Lowering myself? What do you mean, lowering? It's all show business, isn't it? I mean, whether you're in front of a small camera or a big camera, it makes no difference, you're still entertainment."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Ernest Borgnine on how he came to work on McHale's Navy
Ernest Borgnine on working in live television
Ernest Borgnine on the new generation of fans he has from playing "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepant s
Ernest Borgnine on making a character come alive with your voice
Ernest Borgnine on his longevity in the business
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his grandfather being financial adviser to King Victor Emmanuel of Italy; on living in Italy for several years; on his mother's death; on his mother suggesting he be an actor; on joining the Navy and guarding the Atlantic coast during World War II; 
On attending Yale and then transferring to the Randall School of Dramatic Arts at 28 years old on the GI Bill; on working at the Barter Theater of Virginia; on transitioning to Broadway; on working with Joe E. Brown in a Broadway production of "Harvey"
On working in live television; on getting cast in Captain Video and His Video Rangers; on the types of roles he was getting; on working with Delbert Mann and Paddy Chayefsky on the movie Marty;  on how life experiences contribute to being an actor; on bringing something original to a role; on preparing for a role and basing characters on people he knew; on his role in Emperor of the North; on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis; on how winning the Oscar changed his career

Chapter 2

On how Seven Men Against the Sea turned into him starring in McHale's Navy; on getting into a fight with McHale's Navy producer Edward Montagne; on acting in dramatic and comedic roles; on his co-stars on McHale's Navy
On memorable moments from McHale's Navy; on a typical work week on McHale's Navy; on the show's laugh track; on the film of McHale's Navy; on the final episode and popularity of McHale's Navy
On being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares; on his many appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; on appearing as a clown on The Dean Martin Show; on the short-lived show Future Cop
On working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"; on the thoughts on saying "I love you" that he expressed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; on the CBS production of "All Quiet on the Western Front"; on some of his feature films and directors he's worked with - Robert Aldrich - and working with Sam Peckinpah

Chapter 3

On CBS' "All Quiet On The Western Front"; on The Poseidon Adventure; on how The Poseidon Adventure almost didn't get made; on Airwolf - his character, the premise, the popularity; on how he went from a film star to television for McHale's Navy -- some considered it "lowering" himself, he considers it all entertainment
On The Single Guy; on the new generation of fans he has from Spongebob Squarepants; on his "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepant s; on doing voiceover role; on the documentary Ernest Borgnine on the Bus; on his Golden Globe nomination for Grandpa for Christmas; on his 200th film 
On his longevity in the business; on B-roll of pictures from his career - "Much Ado About Nothing", the British Film Academy Award; on his book Ernie, on photos in his book from McHale's Navy
Shows

Airwolf

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf with Jan-Michael Vincent; on the premise of Airwolf, produced by Donald Bellisario, and his character

All Quiet On The Western Front

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on the CBS production of "All Quiet on the Western Front"
Ernest Borgnine on CBS' "All Quiet On The Western Front"

Captain Kangaroo

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on meeting Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan

Captain Video and His Video Rangers

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on getting cast in Captain Video and His Video Rangers

Dean Martin Show, The

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on appearing as a clown on The Dean Martin Show

Future Cop

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on the short-lived show Future Cop

Hollywood Squares, The

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares

Jesus of Nazareth

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"

McHale's Navy

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on how the television series McHale's Navy came about; on working on the series and on some of the storylines and his co-stars
Ernest Borgnine on a picture from McHale's Navy

Much Ado About Nothing

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on a picture from "Much Ado About Nothing"

Single Guy, The

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on The Single Guy

Spongebob Squarepants

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on his "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepant s; on doing voiceover roles

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

View Show Page
Ernest Borgnine on his many appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Ernest Borgnine on the thoughts on saying "I love you" that he expressed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Ernest Borgnine on his character on Airwolf

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Ernest Borgnine on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis

We Laughed

View Topic
Ernest Borgnine on being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares
Professions

Actor

View Profession
Ernest Borgnine on his mother suggesting he be an actor
Ernest Borgnine on how life experiences contribute to being an actor
Ernest Borgnine on preparing for a role
Ernest Borgnine on acting in dramatic and comedic roles
Ernest Borgnine on how he went from a film star to television for McHale's Navy ; some considered it "lowering" himself, he considers it all entertainment

Voiceover

View Profession
Ernest Borgnine on doing voiceovers
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

View Genre
Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf with Jan-Michael Vincent; on the premise of Airwolf, produced by Donald Bellisario, and his character

Children's Programming

View Genre
Ernest Borgnine on his "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepants; on doing voiceover roles

Comedy Series

View Genre
Ernest Borgnine on how the television series McHale's Navy came about; on working on the series and on some of the storylines and his co-stars

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

View Genre
Ernest Borgnine on getting cast in Captain Video and His Video Rangers

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Ernest Borgnine on working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"
People

Robert Aldrich

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on Robert Aldrich's suggestions for the film Marty
Ernest Borgnine on his role in Emperor of the North
Ernest Borgnine on working with Robert Aldrich

Irwin Allen

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on how The Poseidon Adventure almost didn't get made

Carl Ballantine

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on his co-stars on McHale's Navy

Donald Bellisario

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf

Marlon Brando

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on Marlon Brando's talent

Joe E. Brown

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on working with Joe E. Brown in a Broadway production of "Harvey"

Johnny Carson

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on his many appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Paddy Chayefsky

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on working on the film Marty with Delbert Mann and Paddy Chayefsky

Lee J. Cobb

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on Frank Sinatra's generosity

Henry Colman

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on a picture from "Much Ado About Nothing"

Tim Conway

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on his co-stars on McHale's Navy
Ernest Borgnine on reuniting with Tim Conway - who he had worked with on McHale's Navy - on Spongebob Squarepants

Joe Flynn

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on his co-stars on McHale's Navy

Don Hastings

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on his castmates in Captain Video and His Video Rangers

Al Hodge

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on his castmates in Captain Video and His Video Rangers

Bob Keeshan

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on meeting Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan

Grace Kelly

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis

Gavin MacLeod

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on Gavin MacLeod on McHale's Navy
Ernest Borgnine on working with Gavin MacLeod on McHale's Navy

Delbert Mann

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on working on the film Marty with Delbert Mann
Ernest Borgnine on the CBS production of "All Quiet on the Western Front"

Peter Marshall

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares

Edward Montagne

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on getting into a fight with McHale's Navy producer Edward Montagne

Sam Peckinpah

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on working with Sam Peckinpah

Frank Sinatra

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on Frank Sinatra's generosity

Richard Thomas

View Interview Page
Ernest Borgnine on CBS' "All Quiet On The Western Front"

Spencer Tracy

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on working on a film with Spencer Tracy while auditioning for Marty

Jan-Michael Vincent

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf with Jan-Michael Vincent

Franco Zeffirelli

View Person Page
Ernest Borgnine on working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"

All Interviews

Q
S