Fun Facts about Ernest Borgnine (who turned 90 today)

Since we haven’t celebrated the life of a legendary if geriatric actor lately, I thought, what better day than the occasion of Ernest Borgnine’s Birthday to bring to light the lesser known facts about the great man’s life? Here’s what I know:

  • During the filming of an episode of Airwolf, Jan Michael Vincent fell twenty feet out of the prop helecopter model they had suspended above the studio. He was fortunately able to walk away with no injuries as a result of his fall being broken by Ernest Borgnine’s eyebrows.

  • France had once offered to name a succulent meat dish after Ernest Borgnine, but he politely declined. Somewhat put off by his seeming haughtiness, they instead named it Beef Bourguignon, which means “Ignorant American with wide pants.”

  • Ernest Borgnine has prehensile hair.

  • Although his jaw is capable of exerting pressures of up to 400PSI on anything they clamp down on, Ernest Borgnine is able to carry his young with incredible delicacy.

  • Ernest Borgnine’s ears contain Eustachian tubes that are capable of expanding to four times their normal size when they sense danger.

  • Chairman Mao Tse Tung is said never to sit down to a meal without offering up a prayer and a handful of rice to Ernest Borgnine.

Okay, your turn. What do you know about Ernest Borgnine that we may further learn of his greatness?

He was really a PT boat Commander in WWII and served in the same Squadron as JFK*

He had an illegitimate child with Ethel Merman.

He was considered for the lead in From Here to Eternity. He lost out on the call back however.


  • John Fitzroy Kelley that is.

Um, he out-acted William Shatner in The Devil’s Rain. But then, so did the “dissolving flesh” special-effects goop… :smiley:

Chuck Norris calls Ernest Borgnine “The only man I truly fear”.

In an episode of All in the Family, Archie referred to aborigines as A. Borgnines.

He looks so good because he is actually Borg of Nine.

Just to put a little truth in this thread:

• Ernest Borgnine was really married to Ethel Merman.
• Ernest Borgnine joined the Navy in 1935 and served until 1945.
• Ernest Borgnine has a Best Acting Oscar.

okay might as well inject a little embellishment
• In a little-known incident in 1944, Ernest Borgnine slapped John Wayne in the face exclaiming “What’s this 'I tried to join bullshit? I’m an actor and I’ve been in the service 9 damned years !!! Quit playing saddle tramp and join the service you sissy!!!”
This encounter so disrupted Mr Wayne that the two never worked together on any project. Whenever “McHale’s Navy” was filming within 10 miles of John Wayne he made sure he had extra bodyguards, attack dogs, and outrageously large supplies of ammo.

cc: Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef, James Stewart

I think he also provides the voice of “Mermaid Man” on the Spongebob Squarepants episodes.


What, do you think I watch Spongebob Squarepants? :smiley:

Okay, that is freaking odd. I had no clue he was ever really married to Ethel Merman or in the Navy. Those were both suppose to be jokes.

Jim :confused:

Because Dutch controls are actually reversed from American helicopter controls, Michael Jan Vincent couldn’t actually fly Airwolf–Ernest Borgnine did from the back seat.

Wilford Brimley and Ernest Borgnine once got into a fight. Brimley spun himself up into a cocoon trying to metamorphosize into a younger man. Borgnine just pulled out a Ka-Bar, cut his way through the silk, and suckerpunched Brimley in the face.

Ernest Borgnine actually wrote ‘High Flight’ when he spontaneously learned to fly. However, it was rewritten to be more politically correct, because in fact, Borgnine reached out and “. . . high fived God.”

I know these things, because I’ve seen his manuscript of an autoiography.

Ah, see? More facts are coming to light!

  • What Exit? has a special psychic connection to Ernest Borgnine and is able to divine portions of his life through sheer will. Also, What Exit can sense what food Ernest is currently digesting.

  • Ernest Borgnine once made a sandwich consisting of two slices of ham and one thin slice of every cheese on Earth. It was four feet high and took him three days to consume.

  • Ernest Borgnine was originally to try out for the role of Captain Merril Stubing during casting for The Love Boat, but former McHale’s Navy castmate Gavin McLeod, wanting the lead role himself for a change, convinced him not to attend by informing him that the role of Stubing was intended to be gay.

  • The Ojibwa Indians bestowed Ernest Borgnine with the honorary Indian name “Dances Like Buffalo” for reasons he would rather not discuss.

  • Ernest Borgnine was Rodney Dangerfield’s body double in Back to School.

  • Ernest Borgnine’s only ticklish spot is his gums.

  • The IHOP in Madison, Wisconsin maintains a shrine to Ernest Borgnine at a booth in the far corner where he had once sat. Among autographed paraphernalia adorning the walls, there is also a cast of his bum on the wall made from the impression he left in the vinyl seat.

::tapping psychic connection::
Prunes and Pasta.

Since I lack a sense of humor, I’ll toss out a couple of real true facts -
Ernest Borgnine rules the country, being a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason.
Ernest Borgnine is also a Shriner, and Chuck Norris once laughed at him as Ernest drove a tiny car - this explains Chucks 2-year hiatus from 96 to 98. Incredible strides in reconstructive surgery also resulted from this incident.
Small children are allowed to laugh at Ernest Borgnine, but not adult may laugh at the adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. This bums out Tim Conway (who voices Barnacle Boy)

True story:

I met Ernest Borgnine once, but I didn’t immediately recognize him. He was dressed as a clown at the time.

While Ernest Borgnine was starring in McHale’s Navy the Japanese were so intimidated that they actually surrendered all over again.

Unable to convince the producers of From Here to Eternity that his Fatso Judson character should have easily been able to defeat Pruitt in a knife fight, Ernest Brognine used a real switchblade while filming the scene. Although Judson died in the fight, as called for in the script, the knife wound that Montgomery Clift’s character received (and ultimately died from) was, in fact, real.

Ernest Borgnine was originally supposed to have a cameo role in Airplane. When his part was cut while Ethel Merman’s cameo stayed in, it forever spoiled a reconciliation between the two.

He’s actually one hell of a good actor.

Here’s a true fact: I thought Ernest Borgnine was dead.

On the very off chance that this isn’t a whoosh, the “illegitimate child of Ernest and Ethel” business is the schtick of drag queen Varla Jean Merman.

Here’s another: he’s apparently 92. IMDb lists his DOB as 1/24/15.

Rumor has it that they weren’t referring to the animal, but rather, the city.