Actor Film actor Military officer Officer Soldier Television actor

Ernest Borgnine

Quick Facts

IntroAmerican actor
Was Actor
Military officer
Film actor
Television actor
From United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage, Radio
Birth 24 January 1917, Hamden, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Death 8 July 2012, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.
(aged 95 years)
PoliticsRepublican Party
Spouse: Katy JuradoEthel MermanTova Traesnaes


Ernest Borgnine (/ˈbɔːrɡnn/; born Ermes Effron Borgnino (Italian pronunciation: [borˈɲiːno]); January 24, 1917 – July 8, 2012) was an American actor and voice actor whose career spanned 61 years. He was noted for his gruff but calm voice, Machiavellian eyebrows, and gap-toothed Cheshire cat grin. A popular performer, he had also appeared as a guest on numerous talk shows and as a panelist on several game shows.

Borgnine’s career began in 1951, and included supporting roles in China Corsair (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), Vera Cruz (1954), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). He also played the unconventional lead in many films, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1955 for Marty. He achieved continuing success in the 1960s sitcom McHale’s Navy (1962–1966), in which he played the title character, and co-starred as Dominic Santini in the action series Airwolf (1984–1986), in addition to a wide variety of other roles.

Borgnine earned an Emmy Award nomination at age 92, for his work on the series ER. He was also known for being the original voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants, a role he played from 1999 until his death in 2012.

Early life

Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut, the son of Italian immigrants. His mother, Anna (née Boselli; 1894–c. 1949), hailed from Carpi, while his father, Camillo Borgnino (1891–1975), was a native of Ottiglio. Borgnine’s parents separated when he was two years old, and he then lived with his mother in Italy for about four and a half years. By 1923, his parents had reconciled, the family name was changed from Borgnino to Borgnine, and his father changed his first name to Charles. Borgnine had a younger sister, Evelyn Borgnine Velardi (1925–2013). The family settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where Borgnine graduated from James Hillhouse High School. He took to sports while growing up, but showed no interest in acting.

Naval service

Borgnine joined the United States Navy in October 1935, after graduation from high school. He served aboard the destroyer/destroyer minesweeper USS Lamberton (DD-119; AG-21 and DMS-2) and was honorably discharged from the Navy in October 1941. In January 1942, he reenlisted in the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, he patrolled the Atlantic Coast on an antisubmarine warfare ship, the USS Sylph (PY-12). In September 1945, he was honorably discharged from the Navy. He served a total of almost ten years in the Navy and obtained the grade of gunner’s mate 1st class. His military awards include the Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, American Campaign Medal with 316” bronze star, and the World War II Victory Medal.

In 1997, Borgnine received the United States Navy Memorial, Lone Sailor Award.

On December 7, 2000, Borgnine was named the Veterans Foundation’s Veteran of the Year.

In October 2004, Borgnine received the honorary title of chief petty officer from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry D. Scott. The ceremony for Borgnine’s naval advancement was held at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. He received the special honor for his naval service and support of the Navy and navy families worldwide.

On February 5, 2007, he received the California Commendation Medal.

Acting career

Early career

Borgnine returned to his parents’ house in Connecticut after his Navy discharge without a job to go back to and no direction. In a British Film Institute interview about his life and career, he said:

He took a local factory job, but was unwilling to settle down to that kind of work. His mother encouraged him to pursue a more glamorous profession and suggested to him that his personality would be well suited for the stage. He surprised his mother by taking the suggestion to heart, although his father was far from enthusiastic. In 2011, Borgnine remembered,


He studied acting and graduated, auditioned, and was accepted as an intern to the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. It had been named for the director’s allowing audiences to barter produce for admission during the cash-lean years of the Great Depression. In 1947, Borgnine landed his first stage role in State of the Union. Although it was a short role, he won over the audience. His next role was as the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

In 1949, Borgnine went to New York, where he had his Broadway debut in the role of a nurse in the play Harvey. More roles on stage led him to being cast for decades as a character actor.


An appearance as the villain on TV’s Captain Video led to Borgnine’s casting in the motion picture The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951) for Columbia Pictures. That year, Borgnine moved to Los Angeles, California, where he eventually received his big break in Columbia’s From Here to Eternity (1953), playing the sadistic Sergeant “Fatso” Judson, who beats a stockade prisoner in his charge, Angelo Maggio (played by Frank Sinatra). Borgnine built a reputation as a dependable character actor and played villains in early films, including movies such as Johnny Guitar, Vera Cruz, and Bad Day at Black Rock.

In 1955, the actor starred as a warmhearted butcher in Marty, the film version of the television play of the same name. He gained an Academy Award for Best Actor over Frank Sinatra, James Dean (who had died by the time of the ceremony), and former Best Actor winners Spencer Tracy and James Cagney.

Borgnine’s film career flourished for the next three decades, including roles in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Emperor of the North (1973), Convoy (1978), The Black Hole (1979), All Quiet on the Western Front (1979), and Escape from New York (1981).

One of his most famous roles was that of Dutch, a member of The Wild Bunch in the 1969 Western classic from director Sam Peckinpah. Of his role in The Wild Bunch, Borgnine later said,


Borgnine made his TV debut as a character actor in Captain Video and His Video Rangers, beginning in 1951. These two episodes led to countless other television roles that Borgnine would gain in Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Ford Television Theatre, Fireside Theatre, Frontier Justice, Laramie, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Run for Your Life, Little House on the Prairie (a two-part episode entitled “The Lord is My Shepherd”), The Love Boat, Magnum, P.I., Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, Walker, Texas Ranger, Home Improvement, Touched by an Angel, the final episodes of ER, the first episode of Wagon Train, and many others.

In 2009, at the age of 92, Borgnine earned an Emmy nomination for his performances in the final two episodes of ER.

McHale’s Navy

In 1962, Borgnine signed a contract with Universal Studios for the lead role as the gruff but lovable skipper, Quinton McHale, in what began as a serious one-hour 1962 episode called Seven Against the Sea for Alcoa Premiere, and later reworked to a comedy called McHale’s Navy, a World War II sitcom, which also co-starred unfamiliar comedians Joe Flynn as Capt. Wally Binghamton and Tim Conway as Ens. Charles Parker. The insubordinate crew of PT-73 helped the show become an overnight success during its first season, landing in the Top 30 in 1963.

Like the McHale character, Borgnine was a longtime navy man in real life. He thrived on the adulation from fans for their favorite navy man, and in 1963 received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. At the end of the fourth season, in 1966 low ratings and repetitive storylines brought McHale’s Navy to an end.

Tim Conway said about the sitcom: “You know, we were all guys, it was about the war, and about men, so, there weren’t many women working on the show, so we can spit, talk, swear, and everything—smoke? Gosh. So, it was male oriented.” Conway once referred to Ernest Borgnine making new friends off of the Universal set, “It was the beginning of the trams, going through Universal. Ernie was probably one of the few people at Universal, who would stop the trams and say, ‘Hello, how are you?’ He would talk to everybody at the tram.” While the show McHale’s Navy was going strong, Tim had also said of Borgnine’s short-lived marriage to Ethel Merman, “Ernie is volatile. I mean, there’s no question about that; and Ethel was a very strong lady. So, you put 2 bombs in a room, something is going to explode, and I guess it probably did.” He also said about the cancellation of McHale’s Navy was, “We had gone from the South Pacific to Italy, and then, once in a while, we got to New York or something. The storylines were beginning to duplicate themselves. So, they actually said, ‘Maybe, they had its run!'”. Conway kept in touch with Borgnine for more than 40 years, while living not too far from one another. In 1999, the duo reunited to guest-voice in several episodes of the popular 2000s animated comedy, SpongeBob SquarePants. Katy Jurado’s death in 2002 drew Borgnine and Conway much closer, as Tim had heard so much of the actress’s death. He said he heard his resisting friend once referred to one of his ex-wives, “Beautiful, but a tiger.” After Conway lost his TV captain, he later said, if Borgnine was more than likely to have died an Italian count, had it not been for Mussolini, “I can’t envision him as a count,” Tim had also said about McHale’s Navy debuted, a half a century ago, boosting both ABC and the Navy fortunes: “But maybe as a king—certainly not a count.” The last thing he said about his acting mentor’s long career: “There were no limits to Ernie,” said Conway, “When you look at his career—Fatso Judson to Marty, that’s about as varied as you get in characters and he handled both of them with equal delicacy and got the most out of those characters.”


Borgnine returned to a new contract with Universal Studios in 1983, for a co-starring role opposite Jan-Michael Vincent, on Airwolf. After he was approached by producer Donald P. Bellisario, who had been impressed by Borgnine’s guest role as a wrestler in a 1982 episode of Magnum, P.I., he immediately agreed. He played Dominic Santini, a helicopter pilot, in the series, which became an immediate hit. Borgnine’s strong performances belied his exhaustion due to the grueling production schedule, and the challenges of working with his younger, troubled series lead. The show was cancelled by CBS in 1986.

The Single Guy

He auditioned a third time for a co-starring role opposite Jonathan Silverman in The Single Guy as doorman Manny Cordoba, which lasted two seasons. According to Silverman, Borgnine came to work with more energy and passion than all other stars combined. He was the first person to arrive on the set every day and the last to leave.

Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

In 1996, Borgnine starred in the televised fantasy/thriller film Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (partially adapted from the 1984 horror film The Devil’s Gift). As narrator and storyteller, Borgnine recounts a string of related supernatural tales, his modern-day fables notably centering on an enchanted and malicious cymbal-banging monkey toy stolen from the wizard Merlin. The film was later featured in the parodical television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, and has since gained a prominent cult following.

Other activities

Also in 1996, Borgnine toured the United States on a bus to meet his fans and see the country. The trip was the subject of a 1997 documentary, Ernest Borgnine on the Bus. He also served one year as the chairman of the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, visiting patients in many Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.

Work after 1999

Starting in 1999, Borgnine provided his voice talent to the animated sitcom SpongeBob SquarePants as the elderly superhero Mermaid Man (where he was paired up with his McHale’s Navy co-star Tim Conway as the voice of Mermaid Man’s sidekick Barnacle Boy). He expressed affection for this role, in no small part for its popularity among children. After his death Nickelodeon re-aired all of the episodes in which Mermaid Man appeared in memoriam. Borgnine also appeared as himself in The Simpsons episode “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood”, in addition to a number of television commercials. In 2000, he was the executive producer of Hoover, in which he was the only credited actor.

In 2007, Borgnine starred in the Hallmark original film A Grandpa for Christmas. He played a man who, after his estranged daughter ends up in the hospital because of a car accident, discovers that he has a granddaughter he never knew about. She is taken into his care, and they soon become great friends. Borgnine received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television for his performance. At 90, he was the oldest Golden Globe nominee ever.

Borgnine’s autobiography Ernie was published by Citadel Press in July 2008. Ernie is a loose, conversational recollection of highlights from his acting career and notable events from his personal life.

On April 2, 2009, he appeared in the last episode of the long-running medical series ER. His role was that of a husband whose long marriage ended with his wife’s death. In his final scene, his character is in a hospital bed lying beside his just-deceased wife. His performance garnered an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, his third nomination and his first in 29 years (since being nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special in 1980 for All Quiet on the Western Front).

In 2009, at age 92, he starred as Frank, the main character of Another Harvest Moon, directed by Greg Swartz and also starring Piper Laurie and Anne Meara. On October 2, 2010, Borgnine appeared as himself in a sketch on Saturday Night Live. On October 15, 2010, he appeared in Red, which was filmed earlier that year. In late 2011, Borgnine completed what would be his last film, playing Rex Page in The Man Who Shook The Hand of Vicente Fernandez.

Personal life

Borgnine married five times. His first marriage, from 1949 to 1958, was to Rhoda Kemins, whom he met while serving in the Navy. They had one daughter, Nancee (born May 28, 1952). He was then married to actress Katy Jurado from 1959 to 1963. Borgnine’s marriage to singer Ethel Merman in 1964 lasted only 32 days. Their time together was mostly spent hurling profane insults at each other, and both would later admit that the marriage was a colossal mistake (Merman’s description of the marriage in her autobiography was a solitary blank page). Their divorce was finalized on May 25, 1965.

From 1965 to 1972, Borgnine was married to Donna Rancourt, with whom he had a son, Cristopher (born August 9, 1969) and two daughters, Sharon (born August 5, 1965) and Diana (born December 29, 1970). His fifth and last marriage was to Tova Traesnaes, which lasted from February 24, 1973 until his death in July 2012.

In 2000, Borgnine received his 50-year pin as a Freemason at Abingdon Lodge No. 48 in Abingdon, Virginia. He joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Los Angeles in 1964, received the KCCH in 1979, was crowned a 33° Inspector General Honorary in 1983, and received the Grand Cross of the Court of Honour in 1991.

Borgnine was a heavy smoker until 1962, after which he became a militant anti-smoker.


Borgnine died of kidney failure on July 8, 2012 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, with his family at his side. He was 95 years old.


Borgnine’s hometown of Hamden, Connecticut, where he enjoyed a large and vocal following, named a street in his honor. For 30 years (1972–2002), Borgnine marched in Milwaukee’s annual Great Circus Parade as the “Grand Clown”.

In 1994, Borgnine received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations.

In 1997, Borgnine was the commencement speaker at Lakeland College, and received an honorary doctorate in humane letters in recognition of his distinguished acting career.

In 1998, the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars dedicated a Golden Palm Star to him.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was dedicated to Borgnine.

Film awards and nominations

Borgnine won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Marty Piletti in the film Marty. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living recipient of the Best Actor Oscar.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Ernest Borgnine received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6324 Hollywood Blvd. In 1996, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

He was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award at the 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards, held January 30, 2011.

1955Academy AwardBest Actor in a Leading RoleMartyWon
BAFTA AwardBest Foreign ActorWon
Golden Globe AwardBest Actor – Motion Picture DramaWon
NBR AwardBest ActorWon
NYFCC AwardBest ActorWon
1959Locarno International Film FestivalBest ActorThe Rabbit TrapWon
1962Emmy AwardOutstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead)McHale’s NavyNominated
1979Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a SpecialAll Quiet on the Western FrontNominated
1981Golden Raspberry AwardWorst Supporting ActorDeadly BlessingNominated
1999Emmy AwardOutstanding Performer in an Animated ProgramAll Dogs Go to Heaven: The SeriesNominated
2007Golden Globe AwardBest Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for TelevisionA Grandpa for ChristmasNominated
2009Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesER: And in the End…Nominated
2009Lifetime Achievement Awardfrom the Rhode Island International Film FestivalWon
2011Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Awardfrom the Screen Actors GuildWon

Awards from fraternal groups

In 2000, Borgnine received his 50-year pin as a Freemason in Abingdon Lodge No. 48, Abingdon, Virginia. He joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Los Angeles (in the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S.A) in 1964, received the KCCH in 1979, was crowned a 33° Inspector General Honorary in 1983, and received the Grand Cross of the Court of Honour in 1991. He was also a member of the Loyal Order of Moose at that organization’s Lodge in Junction City, Oregon. He volunteered to be Stories of Service National spokesman, urging his fellow World War II vets to come forward and share their stories.



1951China CorsairHu Chang
The Whistle at Eaton FallsBill Street
The MobJoe Castro
1953Treasure of the Golden CondorBit part
The Stranger Wore a GunBull Slager
From Here to EternityStaff Sergeant James R. “Fatso” Judson
1954Johnny GuitarBart Lonergan
Demetrius and the GladiatorsStrabo
Bounty Hunter, TheThe Bounty HunterBill Rachin
Vera CruzDonnegan
1955Bad Day at Black RockColey Trimble
Violent SaturdayStadt, Amish Farmer
MartyMarty PilettiAcademy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Run for CoverMorgan
Last Command, TheThe Last CommandMike Radin
The Square JungleBernie Browne
1956JubalShep Horgan
Catered Affair, TheThe Catered AffairTom Hurley
Best Things in Life Are Free, TheThe Best Things in Life Are FreeLew Brown
Three Brave MenBernard F. “Bernie” Goldsmith
1958Vikings, TheThe VikingsRagnar
Badlanders, TheThe BadlandersJohn “Mac” McBain
Torpedo RunLieutenant / Lieutenant Commander Archer “Archie” Sloan
1959The Rabbit TrapEddie ColtLocarno International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Summer of the Seventeenth DollRoo Webber
1960Man on a StringBoris Mitrov
Pay or DiePolice Lieutenant Joseph PetrosinoNominated – Golden Laurel
1961Go Naked in the WorldPete Stratton
Black CityPeppino Navarra
Last Judgement, TheThe Last JudgementPickpocket
The Italian BrigandsSante Carbone
1964McHale’s NavyLt. Commander Quinton McHale, SrSpin-off of the series of the same name
1965Flight of the Phoenix, TheThe Flight of the PhoenixTrucker Cobb
1966Oscar, TheThe OscarBarney Yale
1967ChukaSergeant Otto Hansbach
Dirty Dozen, TheThe Dirty DozenMajor General Worden
1968Man Who Makes the Difference, TheThe Man Who Makes the DifferenceHimselfDocumentary short film
Legend of Lylah Clare, TheThe Legend of Lylah ClareBarney Sheean
Split, TheThe SplitBert Clinger
Ice Station ZebraBoris Vaslov
1969Wild Bunch, TheThe Wild BunchDutch Engstrom
Bullet for Sandoval, AA Bullet for SandovalDon Pedro Sandoval
1970Adventurers, TheThe AdventurersFat Cat
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?Sheriff Harve
1971Sam Hill: Who Killed Mr. Foster?Deputy Sam Hill
WillardAl Martin
Bunny O’HareBill Green / William Gruenwald
Hannie CaulderEmmett Clemens
Trackers, TheThe TrackersSam Paxton
Rain for a Dusty SummerThe General
1972World of Sport Fishing, TheThe World of Sport FishingHimselfDocumentary
Film Portrait
Ripped OffCaptain Perkins
Revengers, TheThe RevengersHoop
Poseidon Adventure, TheThe Poseidon AdventureDetective Lieutenant Mike Rogo
1973Emperor of the North PoleShack
Neptune Factor, TheThe Neptune FactorChief Diver Don MacKay
Legend in GraniteVince Lombardi
1974Twice in a LifetimeVince Boselli
Law and DisorderCy
Vengeance Is MineAdam Smith
1975Devil’s Rain, TheThe Devil’s RainJonathan “John” Corbis
1976Holiday HookersMax
1977Fire!Sam Brisbane
Greatest, TheThe GreatestAngelo Dundee
Crossed SwordsJohn Canty
1978The Ghost of Flight 401Dom Cimoli
Cops and RobinJoe Cleaver
ConvoyNatoosha County Sheriff Lyle ‘Cottonmouth’ Wallace of Arizona
Double McGuffin, TheThe Double McGuffinFirat
Black Hole, TheThe Black HoleHarry Booth
1980When Time Ran OutDetective Sergeant Tom Conti
Super FuzzSergeant Willy Dunlop
1981High RiskClint
Escape from New YorkCabbie
Deadly BlessingIsaiah Schmidt
1983Young WarriorsLieutenant Bob Carrigan
CarpoolMickey Doyle
1984Code Name: Wild GeeseFletcher
Love Leads the Way: A True StorySenator Brighton
Man HuntBen Robeson
1985Alice in WonderlandThe Lion
1988Skeleton CoastColonel Smith
The OpponentVictor
Spike of BensonhurstBaldo CacettiNominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Big Turnaround, TheThe Big TurnaroundFather Lopez
Moving TargetCaptain Morrison
1989Gummibärchen küßt man nichtBischof
Laser MissionProfessor Braun
Jake Spanner, Private EyeSal Piccolo
1990Any Man’s DeathHerr Gantz
AppearancesEmil Danzig
Tides of WarDoctor
1991Last Match, TheThe Last MatchCoach
Mountain of DiamondsErnie
1993Tierärztin ChristineDr. Gustav Gruber
Hunt for the Blue DiamondHans Kroger
1994Outlaws: Legend of O.B. Taggart, TheThe Outlaws: Legend of O.B. TaggartUnknown
1995Tierärztin Christine II: The TemptationDr. Gustav Gruber
Captiva IslandArty
1996The Wild Bunch: An Album in MontageHimselfVoice; Documentary
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2Carface CarruthersVoice
Merlin’s Shop of Mystical WondersGrandfather
1997Ernest Borgnine on the BusHimselfDocumentary
McHale’s NavyAdmiral Quinton McHale, Sr. (a.k.a. Cobra)Based on the series of the same name
1998Small SoldiersKip KilliganVoice
BASEketballTed Denslow
12 BucksLucky
An All Dogs Christmas CarolCarface CarruthersVoice
1999AbileneHotis Brown
Lost Treasure of Sawtooth Island, TheThe Lost Treasure of Sawtooth IslandBen Quinn
Last Great Ride, TheThe Last Great RideFranklin Lyle
2000Castle RockNate
HooverJ. Edgar HooverAlso executive producer
Kiss of Debt, TheThe Kiss of DebtGodfather Mariano
200211’09″01 September 11Pensioner(Segment: “United States of America”)
WhiplashJudge DuPont
2003American Hobo, TheThe American HoboNarratorDocumentary
Long Ride Home, TheThe Long Ride HomeLucas Moat
2004BlueberryRolling Star
Barn RedMichael Bolini
Trail to Hope Rose, TheThe Trail to Hope RoseEugene
Blue Light, TheThe Blue LightFaerie King
2005That One SummerOtis Garner
3 BelowGrandpa
Rail KingsSteamtrain
2006The Bodyguard’s CureJerry Warden
2007Oliviero RisingBill
Grandpa for Christmas, AA Grandpa for ChristmasBert O’RileyNominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
2008Strange WildernessMilas
I Am Somebody: No Chance in Hell (it)Judge Holliday
Frozen StupidFrank Norgard
2010Enemy MindCommandVoice
Genesis Code, TheThe Genesis CodeCarl Taylor
RedHenry / Recordskeeper
Another Harvest MoonFrank
2011Night ClubAlbertAccolade Competition for Leading Actor
Frank Currier Actor’s Award
SINY Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Lion of Judah, TheThe Lion of JudahSlinkVoice
Love’s Christmas JourneyNicolas
SnatchedBig Frank Baum
2012The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente FernandezRex Page


1957Wagon TrainWilly MoranEpisode: “The Willy Moran Story”
1961Blue Angels, TheThe Blue AngelsUnknownEpisode: “The Blue Leaders”
1962–1966McHale’s NavyLieutenant Commander Quinton McHale
1974Little House on the PrairieJonathanEpisode: “The Lord is my Shepherd”
1976–1977Future CopCleaver
1977Jesus of NazarethThe Roman Centurion
1979All Quiet on the Western FrontStanislaus KatczinskyNominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1982Magnum, P.I.Earl “Mr. White Death” GianelliEpisode: “Mr. White Death”
1983Blood FeudJ. Edgar Hoover
1984Last Days of Pompeii, TheThe Last Days of PompeiiMarcus
1984–1986AirwolfDominic Santini
1985Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, TheThe Dirty Dozen: Next MissionMajor General Worden
1987Treasure Island in Outer SpaceBilly Bones
Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission, TheThe Dirty Dozen: The Deadly MissionMajor General Worden
1988The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal MissionMajor General Worden
1989OceanPedro El Triste
1991Home ImprovementEddie PhillipsEpisode: “Birds of a Feather Flock to Taylor”
1993Simpsons, TheThe SimpsonsHimselfVoice and likeness
Episode: “Boy-Scoutz n the Hood”
1995–1997Single Guy, TheThe Single GuyDoorman
1996–1999All Dogs Go to Heaven: The SeriesCarface CaruthersVoice only
1998JAGArtemus SullivanEpisode: “Yesterday’s Heroes”
1999Early EditionAntonio BirelliEpisode: “The Last Untouchable”
1999–2012SpongeBob SquarePantsMermaid ManVoice only
2000Walker, Texas RangerEddie RyanEpisode: “The Avenging Angel”
2002Touched by an AngelMax BlandishEpisode: “The Blue Angel”
7th HeavenJoeEpisode: “The Known Soldier”
2003District, TheThe DistrictUncle Mike MurphyEpisode: “Last Waltz”
2009ERPaul ManningEpisodes: “Old Times” and “And in the End…”
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Aces ‘N’ EightsThurmond Prescott
2010Saturday Night LiveHimselfCameo in “What Up With That” sketch

Video games

2001SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSpongeMermaid ManVoice only
2009SpongeBob’s Truth or Square
2010SpongeBob’s Boating Bash


  • Ernest: “Spencer Tracy was the first actor I’ve seen who could just look down into the dirt and command a scene. He played a set-up with Robert Ryan that way. He’s looking down at the road and then he looks at Ryan at just the precise, right minute. I tell you, Rob could’ve stood on his head and zipped open his fly and the scene would’ve still been Mr. Tracy’s.”
  • Ernest: “The trick is not to become somebody else. You become somebody else when you’re in front of a camera or when you’re on stage. There are some people who carry it all the time. That, to me, is not acting. What you’ve gotta do is find out what the writer wrote about and put it into your mind. This is acting. Not going out and researching what the writer has already written. This is crazy!”
  • Ernest: “Everything I do has a moral to it. Yes, I’ve been in films that have had shootings. I made The Wild Bunch (1969), which was the beginning of the splattering of blood and everything else. But there was a moral behind it. The moral was that, by golly, bad guys got it. That was it. Yeah.”
  • Ernest: “Ever since they opened the floodgates with Clark Gable saying, ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,’ somebody’s ears pricked up and said, ‘Oh boy, here we go!’. Writers used to make such wonderful pictures without all that swearing, all that cursing. And now it seems that you can’t say three words without cursing. And I don’t think that’s right.”
  • Ernest on drugs: “No, I’ve never done anything. At least, not to my knowledge. I once took a bunch of goofballs by accident. They looked like candy. They were in a little bowl at a party. I grabbed a handful and went to town. That was some New Year’s Eve. I didn’t have a coherent thought till February.”
  • Ernest on his marriage to Ethel Merman: “Biggest mistake of my life. I thought I was marrying Rosemary Clooney.”
  • Ernest on his $5,000 salary for playing the eponymous lead in Marty (1955), which won him a Best Actor Oscar: “…I would have done it for nothing.”
  • Ernest on Women’s Rights: “They tried it the wrong way. You can’t expect anyone to take you seriously if you burn your undies and tell me I’m a pig. That’s why it failed. Too many ugly broads telling me that they don’t want to sleep with me. Who wanted you anyway?”
  • Ernest: “I’m 81 years old and I like to speak my mind. As a legacy, on the day I die, I’d like to have a newspaper publish all the things that I find wrong in the United States today. And my first would be to get rid of the politicians.”