Ernest Borgnine: 5 Crazy Facts About the SAG Lifetime Awardee

Jeanne Sager
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Ernest BorgnineHe's perfected the art of the character actor, so it's no wonder Ernest Borgnine is the Screen Actors Guild pick for the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award during tonight's ceremonies. But it's his talent for taking on the quirky background roles rather than the front-and-center marquee parts that's made Borgnine a hot topic this week.

The Oscar winner (Marty, 1955) is obviously deserving of this award, but does anyone really know much about this guy with the adorable gap-toothed grin (really, at 94, it's officially cute)? He's made a career out of being a vital part of the movie industry: the background. And he's darn good at it. So before SAG hands over the statuette, here are five facts about Borgnine to make you seem like an expert during the SAG Awards show:

Borgnine hasn't always been his last name -- but it's not a screen name either. He was named Ermes Efron Borgnino at birth, but his parents changed the family surname to Borgnine after a brief separation and then reconciliation.

Borgnine got his big break as Sgt. "Fatso" Judson in From Here to Eternity in 1953. And here you thought it was Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster rolling around on the beach that made that movie so special.

Thanks to Borgnine, plenty of washed up actors have work these days on Hollywood Squares. He took the center square the very first time the show aired back in the '60s.

That's Borgnine lending his voice to "Mermaid Man" on kiddie cult hit SpongeBob SquarePants. It's a fitting role for a guy who just turned 94 on the 24th of January. After all, the official Spongebob wiki describes Mermaid Man as: "an old man who is overweight and very round in shape. He exhibits several typical characteristics of an old man, such as white hair, poor sight and hearing, crankiness and memory loss, often forgetting what he is thinking about or doing." Poor Ernie!

He's a dirty old man. He may look sweet and cuddly, but Borgnine says the secret to longevity is the fact that he "masturbate[s] a lot." Hey, it sounds like he has the heart of a 12-year-old boy to us!

Are you a Borgnine fan? What's your favorite Borgnine character?

 

Image via YGX/Flickr

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