Borgnine’s still hanging tough, however,
even to the point of spoofing himself in recent years as an old geezer
superhero named Mermaid Man on some episodes of Nickleodeon’s cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants (lead voice Tom Kenny confided to The New Times
that Borgnine would happily tell stories and sign autographs, yet he
also handled without complaint the many takes required to lay down the
audio tracks). This Private Screenings offers a thumbnail
sketch of Borgnine’s 58-year Tinseltown career and interviewer Robert
Osborne seems to have one eye on the clock as he attempts to squeeze
everything into an hour-long show.
Yet the gregarious Borgnine still has
lots of fun stories to tell, from obscenities at his screen test that
made him smile, to his snap decision to star in the sitcom McHale’s Navy (so that the TV generation of kids would remember his name), to the fact that the producers of Marty
made the low-budget 1955 film strictly for tax reasons. (“They had just
passed a law,” he recalls, “where you have to shoot the picture, show
it one time and then you can take a tax loss, so they shot the picture
for practically nothing. I only got $5,000 for the picture, but I’d
have done it for nothing. It was something I believed in.”). Borgnine
earned a Best Actor Academy Award for Marty, and judging from his ebullient yet reg’lar-kind-of-guy personality on display in this Private Screenings, he’s still happy that people remember his name.
TCM airs this edition of Private Screenings on Monday, Jan. 26, 8 and 11 p.m., part of an all-Ernie tribute that includes Marty (9 p.m.), 1955’s The Last Command (12 a.m.), Borgnine’s nasty Fatso in 1953’s From Here to Eternity (2 a.m.) and opposite Glenn Ford in 1958’s Torpedo Run (4:15 a.m.).