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Ernie: The Autobiography Hardcover – July 29, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

Oscar-winner Borgnine reflects on a career spanning six decades and totaling more than 190 film and television roles. After a nomadic childhood (Connecticut to Chicago to Italy), Borgnine, born in 1917, returned to Connecticut for high school. Following 10 years in the navy, he studied drama at Hartford's Randall School and began acting at Virginia's Barter Theater, advancing to live TV and Broadway roles. His striking performance as the sadistic Fatso in From Here to Eternity (1953) catapulted his career, and two years later he won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the lonely Bronx butcher in Paddy Chayefsky's Marty. In the 1960s, he was reluctant to do a TV series until an encounter with a teen who recognized Borgnine but couldn't name any of his films prompted the actor to immediately do the TV series McHale's Navy. Summoning up on-set movie memories, Borgnine unleashes an arsenal of anecdotes, such as Joan Crawford's hatred of Mercedes McCambridge: Joan thought she was mocking her... and she let fly a fusillade of insults like I've never heard, not even in the Navy. With astute observations on the Hollywood hierarchy and tales about everyone from Lee Marvin and Steve McQueen to Bette Davis and Kim Novak, he writes with an unassuming, no-nonsense tone. His love of filmmaking and his respect for his fellow actors permeates the pages of this engaging and satisfying memoir. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel; 1 edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806529415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806529417
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
"Ernie" is ninety-one year old Ernest Borgnine's lighthearted account of his more than five decades on the stage, in film, and on television. What has sustained this versatile character actor in a business that often grinds people down is the strong "old-fashioned work ethic" that he inherited from his Italian immigrant parents. Borgnine boasts that he has appeared in quite a few of the "100 Most Enjoyably Awful Movies of All Time" as listed in "The Official Razzie Movie Guide." Not all of his movies were classics, but he claims that "every one of them was a learning experience."

"Ernie" is a nostalgic autobiography in which Borgnine revels in his love of acting and especially of old-time moviemaking. He worked with many of the greats, including Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, Montgomery Clift, Betty Davis, Jimmy Stewart, and Kirk Douglas. In addition, he appeared in a variety of genres, including comedies, westerns, war dramas, horror films, Biblical epics, and even a musical! He portrayed "good guys, cops, crooks, murderers, mob bosses, western villains, and an Amish farmer," and became Asian, Jewish, Irish, Swedish, or Mexican, when the part called for it. Much to his delight, his films were directed by such notables as Delbart Mann, Robert Mulligan, Fred Zinnemann ("From Here to Eternity"), and Michael Curtiz.

In an informal and conversational style, Borgnine emphasizes his critically acclaimed performances in "From Here to Eternity" and "Marty," but does not neglect to mention his less artistic films, such as "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Demetrius and the Gladiators." He also describes his stint in the popular "McHale's Navy," in which he played the Commander of a PT Boat in the South Pacific during World War II.
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Format: Hardcover
Character actor Enest Borgnine sums up his personal philosophy in the words of an old sign he saw dangling from a street vendor's hot chestnut cart in the teeming slum streets in New York, where he was born ninety-odd years ago. These words have stuck with him ever since: "I don't want to set the world on fire," the sign read. "I just want to keep my nuts warm." Now he is the oldest living person to have won an Oscar and he's still acting with his lovely makeup mogul wife, Tova, to give him support.

He was middle aged when he started to act, after a ten year stint in the Navy during WWII, and so he came to us fully grown. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY wasn't his first film role, but this A-list Fred Zinnemann production got him noticed by all the critics and put him in line for the roles to come. He was married to a nurse, Rhoda, whom he calls a "stout woman," and then he met and married two entertainers, Katy Jurado and Ethel Merman, before his disastrous late 60s marriage to the unfortunate Donna, who comes off like a hustling gold-digger here. Maybe all these wives were just rehearsals for the real thing, Tova, whose soap is so rich that, even in the harsh Arab countries in which Zeffirelli directed Ernest Borgnine in the prizewinning miniseries JESUS OF NAZARETH, Franco Z found he could work up lather even in the hard water of the native springs.

Ernie worked with many greats and usually has something secret to tell about each of them. He's old Hollywood, and knew Cagney, Tracy, Stewart, Cooper, Gable, etc. When Burt Lancaster was asked if he was endangering his heterosexual reputation by frequenting Rock Hudson's all-boy parties, he replied, "I go to the opera, too, Ernie--doesn't mean I sing.
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Format: Hardcover
Ernest Borgnine, popular character actor, is still with us, and in fine form if this autobiography is anything to go by. The author doesn't stint on his early life, and still seems surprised that his life took the path it did. What is unusual is that halfway through the narrative ends and we move into a sequence of anecdotes, film by film. This is actually very effective, and whoever made the decision to do this did well. After a while we feel we know enough about Ernie, and want to move onto the stories, which are there in abundance. Personally I could have done with a bit more about his brief marriage to Ethel Merman (surely there were a few decent bouts of vase-throwing?) but you can't have everything. Above average.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a lifelong fan of Mr. Borgnine. I love him when he breaks my heart as Marty, and I love him when he's battling Lee Marvin to the death on top of a speeding train. I've since had the pleasure of meeting him and found him to be extremely gracious and totally unpretentious. I'm happy to report that his book is truly reflective of the man. You can almost hear his voice as you read his words. Some autobiograpies are ghosted in a slick familiar cadence, but this actually sounds like Ernie. He tells the story of his early years with honesty and heart. His relationship with his family is nicely drawn, and the stories he relates about the making of some of my favorite films is worth the price of the book alone. (Did ANYONE like working with Shelly Winters?)

In the end you feel like you've been chatting with a warm "old school" gentelman....the kind you don't run into much anymore. Thanks Ernie.
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