No, it wasn’t Marty, From Here To Eternity, or even Johnny Guitar.
It was a wacky little 1972 alleged comedy called Bunny O’Hare, in which he and Bette Davis were a plumber and a widow who dressed up as hippies and robbed banks, funkily escaping on a motorcycle.
Those two old coots were no threat to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, but you can’t say they weren’t game.
So last year, I rode my motorbike to meet Ernie at the Chiller Theatre autograph convention in Parsippany, and naturally I asked him not about Marty or From Here To Eternity, but Bunny O’Hare!
“Bette was one of the greatest,” he gushed. “She was in her dotage, but she gave it her all.”
“Her dotage? What a scamp,” I noted in the column. “No wonder Ethel Merman divorced this guy after 32 days!”
Yes, Ernie and Ethel were the original Kardashians.
Ernie always explained their rapid rift by saying that when he and his blushing bride went to Europe, Ethel was appalled that he was wildly famous from TV’s McHale’s Navy, but few seemed to give a shit that she’d been on Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy.
And that’s showbiz, kids.
But the Merm got the last laugh.
In her memoir, she had a chapter called “My Marriage To Ernest Borgnine.” It consisted of a blank page.
Ernie was actually a wonderful actor, but sensitivity wasn’t his strong suit. In fact, he made waves when he oinkishly announced in 2005 that he hadn’t seen Brokeback Mountain and he refused to do so.
If only I’d felt that way about Bunny O’Hare, I would have had those two precious hours back!