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Ernest Borgnine/Private Screenings

July 29, 2012

A tremendous interview of Ernest Borgnine, conducted by Robert Osborne a few years back served as a great remembrance of Mr. Borgnine, who passed away recently at the age of 95. The interview was part of the Turner Classic Movies series, “Private Screenings.”

Over the course of the interview, I learned about Borgnine and his classy ways. He said almost all good things about his fellow actors and gave us insight into his dinner scene with Esther Minciotti, who played his mother in Marty. Mr. Borgnine won the Academy Award for Marty in 1955. Ten years later, Lee Marvin, talked about fondly by Borgnine in “Private Screenings” as one who often played around during Borgnine scenes, won the Best actor award for Cat Ballou. It is noteworthy that in an early scene in the classic film, “The Dirty Dozen,” Academy Award winners Borgnine, Marvin and George Kennedy (who won as supporting actor for “Cool Hand Luke”) are together sitting at a table.

Only regarding Ethel Merman, a great singer and the third of Borgnine’s 5 wives, was anything remotely negative stated by Mr.Borgnine. Even that was a feeling that Ms.Merman was jealous of Borgnine’s fame. Their marriage lasted 38 days.

Ernie was truly himself by trying to help others by giving them some happiness. He learned that from his mother and perspective from a man selling chestnuts on 10th Avenue in Manhattan when Borgnine could only smell but not afford to taste the chestnuts. However, getting close to the cart to take in the smell, he noticed writing affixed to the cart. It read “I am not trying to set the world on fire, I am just trying to keep my nuts warm.” Keeping that perspective, Borgnine gave us many warm memories and great performances in what was a marvelous career and life.

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