The Importance of Being Ernest Borgnine


Don’t read this if you’re under 92 years old: Ernest Borgnine has an autobiography coming out in August called, aptly enough, Ernie. Who the fuck is Ernest Borgnine? Well, to my bad movie club that meets every two weeks even if we’re busy, he’ll always be best known as the star of Bunny O’Hare, in which he and old Bette Davis dress up like hippies—you must believe me—and try to rob banks. Of course to normal people—and even animals–Bunny O’Hare might not be at the very top of Borgnine’s body of work. He also won an Oscar for Marty, killed Sinatra in From Here To Eternity, and married Broadway belter Ethel Merman for 32 excruciating yet historic days that every gay of a certain age considers either the golden era of show biz or “the Hitler years.” Merman’s own memoir famously had a chapter titled “My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine” which deftly consisted of one blank page, but Ernie’s book, they swear, will fill in some of the blanks—along with those of his other four marriages. Presumably his version of the Merman stint will be different than the last one I read in a book about the Merm: That they got smashed on their wedding night and he couldn’t get it up, so she sent him packing! And by he, I mean Borgnine, not Merman. And by packing, I don’t think I mean fudgepacking, hello!