Ernest Borgnine

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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."

Highlights
Ernest Borgnine on how he came to work on McHale's Navy
02:53
Ernest Borgnine on working in live television
02:01
Ernest Borgnine on the new generation of fans he has from playing "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepant s
01:27
Ernest Borgnine on making a character come alive with your voice
01:31
Ernest Borgnine on his longevity in the business
02:45
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; 
13:54
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"
15:44
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
28:44

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
22:48
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
11:37
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
09:43
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
13:32

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
13:17
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 
12:10
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
08:19
Shows

Airwolf

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Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf with Jan-Michael Vincent; on the premise of Airwolf, produced by Donald Bellisario, and his character
04:46

All Quiet On The Western Front

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Ernest Borgnine on the CBS production of "All Quiet on the Western Front"
02:40
Ernest Borgnine on CBS' "All Quiet On The Western Front"
00:56

Captain Kangaroo

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Ernest Borgnine on meeting Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan
00:55

Captain Video and His Video Rangers

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Ernest Borgnine on getting cast in Captain Video and His Video Rangers
01:59

Dean Martin Show, The

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Ernest Borgnine on appearing as a clown on The Dean Martin Show
01:43

Future Cop

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Ernest Borgnine on the short-lived show Future Cop
01:37

Hollywood Squares, The

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Ernest Borgnine on being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares
01:57

Jesus of Nazareth

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Ernest Borgnine on working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"
03:52

McHale's Navy

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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
34:25
Ernest Borgnine on a picture from McHale's Navy
00:38

Much Ado About Nothing

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Ernest Borgnine on a picture from "Much Ado About Nothing"
00:51

Single Guy, The

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Ernest Borgnine on The Single Guy
03:09

Spongebob Squarepants

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Ernest Borgnine on his "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepant s; on doing voiceover roles
04:14

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Ernest Borgnine on his many appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
04:26
Ernest Borgnine on the thoughts on saying "I love you" that he expressed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
03:57
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Ernest Borgnine on his character on Airwolf
00:46

Memorable Moments on Television

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Ernest Borgnine on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis
02:05

We Laughed

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Ernest Borgnine on being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares
01:57
Professions

Actor

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Ernest Borgnine on his mother suggesting he be an actor
01:28
Ernest Borgnine on how life experiences contribute to being an actor
01:10
Ernest Borgnine on preparing for a role
02:29
Ernest Borgnine on acting in dramatic and comedic roles
03:22
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
01:42

Voiceover

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Ernest Borgnine on doing voiceovers
01:31
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf with Jan-Michael Vincent; on the premise of Airwolf, produced by Donald Bellisario, and his character
04:46

Children's Programming

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Ernest Borgnine on his "Mermaid Man" character on Spongebob Squarepants; on doing voiceover roles
04:14

Comedy Series

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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
34:25

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Ernest Borgnine on getting cast in Captain Video and His Video Rangers
01:59

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Ernest Borgnine on working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"
03:52
People

Robert Aldrich

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Ernest Borgnine on Robert Aldrich's suggestions for the film Marty
01:59
Ernest Borgnine on his role in Emperor of the North
01:04
Ernest Borgnine on working with Robert Aldrich
02:00

Irwin Allen

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Ernest Borgnine on how The Poseidon Adventure almost didn't get made
02:54

Carl Ballantine

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Ernest Borgnine on his co-stars on McHale's Navy
00:42

Donald Bellisario

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Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf
04:46

Marlon Brando

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Ernest Borgnine on Marlon Brando's talent
00:29

Joe E. Brown

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Ernest Borgnine on working with Joe E. Brown in a Broadway production of "Harvey"
05:06

Johnny Carson

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Ernest Borgnine on his many appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
04:26

Paddy Chayefsky

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Ernest Borgnine on working on the film Marty with Delbert Mann and Paddy Chayefsky
04:04

Lee J. Cobb

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Ernest Borgnine on Frank Sinatra's generosity
00:45

Henry Colman

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Ernest Borgnine on a picture from "Much Ado About Nothing"
00:51

Tim Conway

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Ernest Borgnine on his co-stars on McHale's Navy
01:42
Ernest Borgnine on reuniting with Tim Conway - who he had worked with on McHale's Navy - on Spongebob Squarepants
00:30

Joe Flynn

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Ernest Borgnine on his co-stars on McHale's Navy
00:50

Don Hastings

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Ernest Borgnine on his castmates in Captain Video and His Video Rangers
00:19

Al Hodge

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Ernest Borgnine on his castmates in Captain Video and His Video Rangers
01:16

Bob Keeshan

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Ernest Borgnine on meeting Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan
00:55

Grace Kelly

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Ernest Borgnine on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis
02:05

Jerry Lewis

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Ernest Borgnine on winning the Oscar for Marty and having a bet with Jerry Lewis
02:05

Gavin MacLeod

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Ernest Borgnine on Gavin MacLeod on McHale's Navy
01:28
Ernest Borgnine on working with Gavin MacLeod on McHale's Navy
00:49

Delbert Mann

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Ernest Borgnine on working on the film Marty with Delbert Mann
07:51
Ernest Borgnine on the CBS production of "All Quiet on the Western Front"
02:40

Peter Marshall

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Ernest Borgnine on being "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares
01:57

Edward Montagne

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Ernest Borgnine on getting into a fight with McHale's Navy producer Edward Montagne
02:07

Sam Peckinpah

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Ernest Borgnine on working with Sam Peckinpah
01:03

Frank Sinatra

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Ernest Borgnine on Frank Sinatra's generosity
00:45

Richard Thomas

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Ernest Borgnine on CBS' "All Quiet On The Western Front"
00:56

Spencer Tracy

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Ernest Borgnine on working on a film with Spencer Tracy while auditioning for Marty
04:04

Jan-Michael Vincent

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Ernest Borgnine on his role on Airwolf with Jan-Michael Vincent
04:46

Franco Zeffirelli

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Ernest Borgnine on working with Franco Zeffirelli on the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"
03:52

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