Audiences first took notice of the stocky, gap-toothed Ernest Borgnine in the 1953 movie "From Here to Eternity," in which he played "Fatso" Judson, the sadistic stockade sergeant of the guard who viciously beats up Frank Sinatra's Pvt. Angelo Maggio in the adaptation of James Jones' acclaimed novel depicting Army life in Hawaii before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The role moved Borgnine into the top echelon of movie villains in films such as "Vera Cruz" and "Bad Day at Black Rock."
But then came the title role in "Marty," the 1955 film version of Paddy Chayefsky's original TV play about a sensitive Italian American bachelor butcher who longs for more than simply hanging out with his pals on Saturday night.
"Well, waddaya feel like doing tonight?" Marty's best friend, Angie, played by Joe Mantell, asks in the movie's often-quoted exchange.
"I don't know, Ang', wadda you feel like doing?" Marty replies.
Borgnine's sensitive portrayal of the self-described "fat ugly man" not only earned him an Oscar for best actor, but the movie also won Academy Awards for Chayefsky and director Delbert Mann, as well as the best picture Oscar.
In a film career that began in 1951, Borgnine appeared in more than 115 movies, including "Johnny Guitar," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "The Flight of the Phoenix," "The Oscar," "The Dirty Dozen,""The Wild Bunch,""Willard," "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Emperor of the North."
From 1962 to 1966, he played the title role in the ABC sitcom "McHale's Navy." As the regulation-breaking commander of a PT boat in the South Pacific during World War II, Borgnine was pitted against the constantly frustrated Capt. Binghamton (played by Joe Flynn). Tim Conway played McHale's bumbling sidekick, Ensign Charles Parker.
Borgnine was married five times, including to actress Katy Jurado from 1959 to 1964, and briefly to Broadway musical star Ethel Merman in 1964.
In 1973 he married his Norwegian-born fifth wife, Tova, who became head of her own cosmetics company.
Born Ermes Effron Borgnino in Hamden, Conn., on Jan. 24, 1917, Borgnine was the son of Italian immigrants. His parents separated when he was 2, and his mother took him to live in Italy, returning after a few years.
Borgnine graduated from New Haven High School in 1935, then worked a few weeks as a vegetable truck driver before enlisting in the Navy as an apprentice seaman. He was discharged two months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and promptly reenlisted. He spent the war as a gunner's mate on a destroyer.
After his discharge, Borgnine returned home, unsure of what he was going to do.
Finally, his mother suggested he give acting a shot. After all, she told him, "You're always making a fool of yourself in front of people."