8 Things You Didn’t Know About Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine, born on January 24, 1917, in Hamden, Connecticut, was an American actor who had a six-decade career. He was known for his gruff but relaxed voice and gap-toothed appearance.

You may be familiar with Ernest Borgnine from his acting career, but there is more to his life as you will discover from the following facts.

Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Ernest Borgnine

1. He Was First Name As Borgnino

His father Camillo worked as a railroad brakeman, while his mother Anna was claimed to be a Count’s daughter. Ernest’s parents divorced when he was two, and his mother moved him to Italy for a few years before returning to Connecticut to finish his education. The Borgninos eventually reunited and changed their surname to Borgnine. [1]

2. Worked As A Vegetable Truck Driver

Ernie, as he was affectionately known, graduated from New Haven High School in 1935. He carried a vegetable truck for a few weeks before joining the Navy as an apprentice seaman. Borgnine was dismissed two months before the Pearl Harbor assault and immediately joined the military.

3. His Mother Gave Him The Idea Of Acting

Borgnine returned home after World War II unsure of what he was going to do. His mother inspired him to pursue acting when she told him, “You’re always making a fool of yourself in front of people.” That remark sparked a long career six decades and more than 115 films.

4. His Major Break

After the war, Borgnine continued his acting career for several years, making his Broadway debut as a hospital attendant in a performance of Harvey. Work in film and television began to come his way in 1951. Borgnine received his big break two years later when he was cast in Fred Zinnemann’s From Here To Eternity.

5. His Views About Television

Borgnine pledged not to work on a TV series after his film career flourished. He later wrote in his autobiography that he changed his mind after a boy selling candies arrived to his house. That kid had no idea who Ernie was. When asked who he liked, the child admitted to liking James Arness from Gunsmoke and Richard Boone from Have Gun, Will Travel. Ernest Borgnine was never without access to television after that. [2]

6. Became The First Center Square In 1966

Borgnine became the first centre square celebrity on The Hollywood Squares game show during its first week in October 1966. The role would later go to Paul Lynde, who, according to Borgnine, could readily come up with one-liners. [3]

7. Married Five Times

Borgnine had five marriages. From 1949 to 1958, he was married to Rhoda Kemins. Ernie married actress Katy Jurado in 1959, and the marriage lasted four years. He married actress Ethel Merman in 1964, but they divorced after only 32 days. From 1965 to 1972, Borgnine was married to Donna Rancourt. But it was his marriage to Tova Traesnaes in 1973 that would last. Ernie and Tova were married for 38 years before his death in 2012. [4]

Ernest Borgnine with one of his wife
Ernest Borgnine with one of his wife

8. Son Of Italian Imigrant

Borgnine was born in Italy to Italian immigrants. His mother, Anna, was born in Carpi, near Modena, while his father, Camillo Borgnino, was born in Ottiglio, near Alessandria. Borgnine’s parents divorced when he was two years old, and he spent the next four and a half years in Italy with his mother. [5]

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