When it comes to unusual lives, nobody had a better run than Ernest Borgnine. Born Ermes Effron Borgnino, the actor’s career started out in serious acting, but he would go on to become a sitcom legend before all was said and done. After spending 10 years in the Navy and fighting in World War II–where he served aboard a destroyer fighting in the Pacific–Borgnine found himself at home with nothing to do. His mother, as mothers do, told him to go out and get a job, suggesting that since he loved to make a fool of himself, he might make a good actor.
Turns out she was right. Borgnine rose up the Hollywood ranks pretty quickly, making the leap from Broadway to the screen in 1951′s From Here To Eternity. In 1955, Borgnine bested James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, and James Cagney to win the Oscar for best actor as a warm-hearted butcher in Marty. In 1963, he got the role that would make him famous: Quinton McHale of McHale’s Navy fame. He was nominated for an Emmy for that role; at age 92, he was nominated for an Emmy for a guest-starring role on the final episode of ER. A few years before that, at age 90, he was the oldest Golden Globe nominee ever.
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