RIP Ernest Borgnine, dead at 95

Arto, age 6.

(Dave’s note: My  Esteemed Colleague® Arto is a huge film fan who introduced me to Ernest Borgnine several years ago. I wanted Arto to write this tribute, but he decided that spending time with his mother – who arrived in San Diego from Finland yesterday and who is meeting his wife for only the second time – was more important. I hope you will all join me in the comments section to evaluate his life priorities … I’m only half joking ;). I’m covering for him today, and he’ll probably be back tomorrow… or else he better watch his back before I sic Kermit on him! I’m fully joking about that one. Kermit has better things to do.)

As someone who believes that funny named individuals make the world a better place, I was saddened to hear of the death of famed Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his lead role in 1957’s Marty.

Born to Italian immigrant parents in Connecticut, with the impressive moniker Ermes Effron Borgnino, the actor served in the United States Navy for 10 years before becoming an actor. Though he failed to win a Navy Cross medal (thus making him ineligible for one of our most popular posts ever), he nonetheless had a distinguished career and received an honorary title of Chief Petty Officer in 1954, nearly a decade after being honorably discharged.

Returning to his parents’ home, and facing few career prospects, Ermes’ mother suggested he go into entertainment. As he later recounted:

She said, `You always like getting in front of people and making a fool of yourself, why don’t you give it a try?’ I was sitting at the kitchen table and I saw this light. No kidding. It sounds crazy. And 10 years later, I had Grace Kelly handing me an Academy Award.

Like Archibald Leach and Benedict Cumberbatch before him, Mr. Borgnino had to decide whether to adopt a stage name or keep his unusual moniker, and settled somewhere between the two camps, swapping a few letters to become Ernest Borgnine.

An earnest man

Whatever the reasoning, it worked out well for the fella described as a “movie star with the face of a workingman.” Aside from his fabled film career, Borgnine also had several starring roles on television, as well as some notable works later in his career. He voiced the elderly superhero Mermaid Man in SpongeBob Squarepants (which we only hope becomes the name of a real person sometime soon so we can feature it on our blog), and also received an Emmy nomination at the age of 92 for his work on ER.

Ninety two years old! I think it’s a neck-and-neck battle between Ernest Borgnine’s Emmy nomination and Oberia Coffin‘s 32+ years of life(!) as the most impressive accomplishment of any funny-named person over the age of 90.

Rest in peace, to one of the all time greats, Ermes Effron Borgnino. It was a good life!

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About Dave

Based out of San Diego, California. Co-founder of the Blog of Funny Names. funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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31 Responses to RIP Ernest Borgnine, dead at 95

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Good tribute to a legend!

  2. Arto says:

    I thought I had Tuesdays! Haha.

    Great post, I never knew his funny name was not his real name, which is even funnier.

    His work in the very last episode of E.R, I think, was pretty great though. He played an old guy.

    • Dave says:

      Yeah, nobody really knows anymore. I just figured that the person who isn’t doing the FNITN would be doing Mon & Thurs, and FNITN person would do Tues and Friday. It ain’t no biggie. I just was looking for some humor to add to the post and ribbing on ol’ Arto seemed like a good way to do it. I wasn’t feeling funny enough to come up with jokes that weren’t at someone else’s expense.

  3. Dave says:

    P.S. What does everyone think of Arto’s life priorities?!? 🙂

    • midlifemeg says:

      I will almost always join in the heckling, but I think Arto is smart to keep the mom & wife happy. I heart blogging, and you people write one heck of a clever blog, but Mom visiting from Finland trumps.

      • Dave says:

        Haha, I agree with you too, but I’ll never hesitate to give someone a hard time, especially when I’m up writing a post a little after midnight. So I had to rib him a little bit. 😉 Plus, I felt too tired to be actually funny in any way other than at someone else’s expense. It was a weak moment, but at least I dug up a good baby picture of Arto and we were able to give a nice tribute to Ernest Borgnine. 🙂

        • midlifemeg says:

          It was a good tribute, and a solid post as usual. I can’t believe you guys have time to post every day–you’re students, aren’t you? Especially because you have to come up with real material. I just make stuff up, occasionally have to look something up on Wikipedia so I don’t say anything stupid. So I’m impressed by the steady stream of quality posts. And I laugh every time.

          • Dave says:

            Thanks! I’m a student, and will be one for another 5 years at least, but Arto and Rob (both around my age) have their bachelors degrees and are working full-time. Rob is a litigation consultant and Arto has a background in many things, but mostly works in the realm of writing and editing.

            Thanks for the compliment, but only on rare occasions do any of us write more than two posts in a week. Honestly, I’ve always been a big believer that restrictions breed creativity. If I told you to write 20 short stories, you’d probably end up writing a lot of quite-similar stories. However, you’d stretch yourself and probably do a lot of fascinating writing if I told you to write 20 short stories, but with different rules for each one (say one involving an umbrella and a tomato, another that uses a non-linear timeline, a third that is written with an unconventional narrator, a fourth through the perspective of someone unable to interact with the outside world, a fifth one that was a retelling of a historical event with one major twist that vastly changes things, a sixth where each protagonist represented a color, a seventh where more than 40% of the words were dialogue, an eighth that was a romance but with a very unusual set of romantic partners (non-human, perhaps), a ninth that was a moral tale involving an oppressive political leader and a female protagonist, a tenth that was an epic poem, etc.). Just from that list that I came up with in fewer than five minutes, you can see how restricting yourself with a rule or two can lead to a lot of fascinating ideas.

            We have two main rules (each post must feature at least one person with a funny name, and we need to have a new post every weekday), and two major guidelines (keep it under 500 words [I constantly break this one, but it still makes me more concise], and be respectful and admiring of the people who we’re writing about). We also have the advantage of writing a lot about things that have actually happened, so don’t need to drum up all that much creativity if we’re not in the mood. I think that makes writing this blog a lot easier. Then, when we find a funny name (which are everywhere, and held by people with all sorts of backgrounds), we have a new set of “prompts” due to the career they had and what made them famous, and it’s really not hard to find the humor somewhere in there. I think this blog couldn’t exist if we weren’t all “students of human nature,” but the actual writing of it doesn’t feel too tough at all.

            Some of my favorite posts have been inspired directly by restrictions we’ve placed on ourselves. My Bitsie Tulloch post involved me finding a bunch of words that rhymed with “bitsie” and telling her life story in the process. My post last week about independence day led to a fun little polling feature that was well-recieved. Nipsey Russell involved a bunch of Nipsey-style poems. Our 100th post (last month), was inspired by my the fact that we don’t do awards posts, and my desire to do so in a way that fit with our theme, which led to a lot of fun and helped with our relationship with our readers a lot.

            Anyway, sorry for the essay. I’m sure a simple “thank you, we do our best” would have been just fine, but I found it interesting to reflect on all of this. It’s interesting that the “creative fields” often benefit from having restrictions placed on them.

            P.S. Just for the record, I haven’t been writing this comment for the last hour and fifteen minutes. I drove home from campus and probably wrote it in 15 minutes. Just so people don’t think I’m crazy(ier) than they already do. 😉

      • Dave says:

        P.S. Meg, how do I get to your blog? When I click on your name, it says clearlymeg.wordpress.com is deleted. I’ve noticed this problem a few times in the past, but haven’t mentioned it until now.

        • Arto says:

          I think you just broke unofficial “500 word comment maximum rule” too there, Bud.

          • midlifemeg says:

            I liked it! And I agree that restrictions are helpful and even necessary. I’m sure anyone who reads it will appreciate the insight into your process and a little more info on you guys. I’m fairly new to your blog so I’ll be poking around and reading some of the posts you referred to. Good times.

          • Dave says:

            I totally did. That’s why it’s good that we have such a rule 🙂

        • midlifemeg says:

          That’s weird…I will have to figure that out because I’ve seen signs of that old address hanging around, too. How am I going to achieve internet celebrity with if I have technical impediments? My blog is just http://www.midlifemeg.com.

  4. Okay – that makes sense now – I thought you meant Kermit (the frog) and thinking that it was a bit of a lame threat! I’ve just clicked the link… light bulb moment!!

    RIP Mr Borgnine, actor, entertainer extraordinaire
    mature in years, you were supreme,
    a spotlight shines, but your not there.

    • Dave says:

      Haha, don’t underestimate Kermit the frog either – we have a pretty terrifying picture of him yielding a gun on our Funny Names Theory page.

      I think everyone should write their comments as rhyming poems. If I were commander of the galaxy, that would be a rule I’d come up with.

  5. beatrix mana says:

    He was a favorite of mine. Especially in Mckales Navy.

    • Dave says:

      I wish I’d gotten to see more of him, but thankfully his work lives on.

      P.S. We’ve been missing the steady stream of posts and drawings from you! You must have gotten very busy lately.

  6. Bumba says:

    Hats off to Marty

  7. Great tribute to a legend. Interesting fact about his real name and nationality. He was one of those people who just had “it” whatever that is that makes someone likable to so many.

  8. mynameisntbitsie says:

    I will weep every time I think of Mermaid Man. Rest in Peace in Bikini Bottom, Mr. Borgnine!

  9. Pingback: Ethel Merman, A Belter From Broadway | The Blog of Funny Names

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