Ernest Borgnine is an American actor of television and the big screen. His career has spanned nearly six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films of the 1950s, including his Academy Award-winning turn in the 1955 film Marty. On television, he is best known for playing Quinton McHale in the 1962-66 series McHale’s Navy, costarring in the mid-1980s action series Airwolf, and voicing the character Mermaid Man in the animated series, SpongeBob SquarePants. Borgnine earned an Emmy nomination at age 92 for his work on the series ER. In August 2009 at age 92 he earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino in Hamden, Connecticut, the son of Anna, who immigrated to the US from Carpi, and Camillo Borgnino, who immigrated to the US from Ottiglio. His parents separated when he was two years old, and he and his mother went to live in Italy. By 1923, his parents had reconciled, and the family name was changed from Borgnino to Borgnine. The family had settled in North Haven, Connecticut, where he attended public schools. His mother also had the passion to develop her own dance. Anna gave her son a lot of moral support and he stood closely by her at all times. Second only to his father, Ernest had a hot temper, but his wit and charm helped him win over his staunchest detractors.
Borgnine joined the United States Navy in 1935, after graduation from James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut. He was discharged in 1941, but re-enlisted when the United States entered World War II and served until 1945, reaching the rank of Gunner’s Mate 1st Class. He served aboard the destroyer USS Lamberton. His military decorations included the American Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, and the World War II Victory Medal.