McHale’s Navy, Airwolf: Ernest Borgnine Dies at 95

Ernest Borgnine diesAcademy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine has passed away at the age of 95 from renal failure. His longtime spokesman confirmed that Borgnine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His family was with him.

Born Ermes Effron Borgnino, the actor had a very long and impressive career, acting on Broadway and in diverse movies like From Here to Eternity, The Dirty Dozen, The Poseidon Adventure, Escape from New York, and Marty, which won him an Oscar.

He also had a very long and impressive career on the small screen as well. He starred in the McHale’s Navy TV series as Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale. Set in World War II, McHale’s the commanding officer of the U.S. Navy PT boat, PT-73, which is stationed at the Pacific island base Taratupa. A conman of the same cloth as Phil Silver’s Bilko, McHale always had an angle and an eye for making some extra bucks — much to the chagrin of his superior officer, Captain Binghamton (Joe Flynn). Other characters in the series are played by Tim Conway, Gary Vinson, Carl Ballantine, Gavin MacLeod, and Bob Hastings (a Bilko veteran).

McHale’s Navy ran for 138 episodes and four seasons on ABC, from 1962 until 1966. It spawned two feature films, McHale’s Navy (1964) and McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force (1965). Borgnine and Ballantine didn’t appear in the latter. A remake movie was produced in 1997, starring Tom Arnold as McHale’s son. Borgnine made a cameo in his old role.

Borgnine returned to a regular role on television in 1983, co-starring opposite Jan-Michael Vincent on Airwolf. After appearing on an episode of Don P. Bellisario’s Magnum PI, the producer wanted him for the role. He played Dominic Santini, a helicopter pilot. The show ran for three seasons on CBS before being cancelled. USA picked it up for a fourth season so that Universal would have enough episodes for syndication. The original cast was let go and Borgnine’s character was killed off in an explosion.

On NBC’s The Single Guy, Borgnine was cast as doorman Manny Cordoba, opposite Jonathan Silverman. That show ran for two seasons from 1995 until 1997. Silverman has noted that Borgnine came to work with more energy and passion than all of the other stars, combined.

In addition to his series regular work, Borgnine also guest-starred on numerous TV shows like Waterfront, The Danny Thomas Show, Wagon Train, Little House on the Prairie, The Love Boat, Highway to Heaven, The Commish, Touched by an Angel, and ER. He also made quite a career in cartoon voice-overs, playing Carface in the All Dogs Go to Heaven TV series and heroic Mermaidman on SpoongeBob Squarepants (alongside his McHale’s buddy Tim Conway).

In 2008, Borgnine told LA Times the secret to his long life. He shared, “I do an awful lot of reading. It keeps me busy. I try to keep my mind going always. That is the thing that counts. You can have your body not feeling so good, but if your mind is working you got it made. That is the way I figured it out.”

Borgnine is survived by his fifth wife, Tova, whom he married in 1973, and four children.

What do you think? Are you going to miss Ernest Borgnine? How will you remember him and his work?

Canceled and renewed TV show

1 Comment · Read it below or add one

  1. Darvedd says

    Sad news but he had a long and productive life and career-I always had a soft spot for McHale and crew.

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