Ernest Borgnine died today, Sunday July 8, 2012. He was 95yrs old.
After my Dad died, I had a greater appreciation for death. That is to say, I had a greater understanding for the grief that overwhelms those dealing with the loss. My Dad’s death also changed the way I looked at the overwhelming responses from the public when a celebrity dies.
When my Dad died, I wanted the world to stop and mourn with me. When I see the world mourn the loss of those in the public eye, my heart aches for the families dealing the loss of their own loved one, unknown to the public.
That being said there are some people within the public eye that do mean a great deal to me. Ernest Borgnine was one of those people.
“YOU DON’T KNOW WHO ERNEST BORGNINE IS?!” My sister exclaimed.
I do not remember if she was talking to me by phone, email, or handwritten letter. I simply remember the exclamation. I also remember she mentioned McHale’s Navy, and I immediately knew to whom she was referring.
It was no use though. My older sister (by 10yrs) did not appreciate my momentary lapse. My attempts to convince her I was very familiar with Ernest were unsuccessful.
About a week later, I received a card from my sister. Inside the card I found a picture. I laughed out loud.
My sister snapped the picture in the Summer of 1991. She was living in California at the time, and she and her husband attended an air show. Ernest was the host.
The picture my sister mailed me so many years ago hangs on my fridge. Some people have mistaken Ernest for my Dad, which is one reason why I think I was always drawn to Ernest.
Like Ernest, my Dad was a military man. Like Ernest, my Dad was a robust man. Like Ernest, my Dad lit up a room with his smile and his deep voice. Unlike Ernest, my Dad didn’t age quite so well, dying 30yrs younger than Ernest.
My Dad would have celebrated his 83rd birthday this year, while Ernest celebrated his 95th. Because my Dad did not age as gracefully as Ernest, the picture of my Dad taken in the Summer of 1993 resembles the 1991 picture of Ernest, though Ernest is 12yrs his senior.
I’m not going to write about Ernest’s acting history or list the films and television shows in which he appeared and/or starred. I’m writing this post because I admired the man. [You can access the AP news story here.]
When I called my sister to tell her the news that Ernest died, I made the comment that Ernest always reminded me of Dad. I think it was an ah-ha moment for my sister. She quickly agreed with me, saying she wondered if that is why she liked him so much. Probably. That, and the fact that Ernest always smiled, greeted his fans, and supported the military. Just like my Dad.
Rest in peace, Ernest. The world lost a bit of light with your passing. If you see my Dad, I hope you’ll sit down with him and have a beer. I think the two of you would get along incredibly well.
“I don’t care whether a role is 10 minutes long or two hours, and I don’t care whether my name is up there on top, either. Matter of fact, I’d rather have someone else get top billing; then if the picture bombs, he gets the blame, not me.” Ernest Borgnine, January 1917 – July 2012.