R.I.P. Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine

Over the past week, we’ve lost two beloved character actors whose lengthy careers spanned both the big screen and small. Andy Griffith passed away last Tuesday at the age of 86, and Ernest Borgnine left us this weekend at 95.

Ernest Borgnine won the Academy Award for his performance as a lovelorn butcher in the 1955 film ‘Marty’. In the 1960s, he had great success on television as the lead in the comedy series ‘McHale’s Navy’. This led to a very prolific career as a character actor in movies and TV, mostly in supporting roles and guest shots. Recently, he’d been nominated for an Emmy for his appearance in the final episode of ‘ER’, and had been doing voiceover work in a recurring part in ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’.

Although perhaps best remembered as a lovable schlub, Borgnine initially made a name for himself by playing tough guys in movies like ‘From Here to Eternity’, ‘Vera Cruz’ and ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’. Revisit his role as a venal thug in ‘The Wild Bunch’ if you want to deconstruct his cuddly, grandfatherly image.

The actor had over 200 credits on his résumé and on Oscar on his shelf. Is it wrong that I remember him best from his stint as the sidekick on ‘Airwolf’ in the ’80s?

Among Borgnine’s movies available on Blu-ray are the following:

Demetrius and the Gladiators
Vera Cruz
The Dirty Dozen
The Wild Bunch
The Poseidon Adventure
Escape from New York

The cult Western ‘Johnny Guitar‘ will be released on August 7th.

I unfortunately neglected to mention last week that Andy Griffith has also died. Much like Borgnine, Griffith cultivated a family-friendly image on television in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Matlock’, but was also capable of demonstrating surprising range when called for it. Be sure to check out his powerhouse performance in Elia Kazan’s ‘A Face in the Crowd’. That film will surely change your view of the amiable Southern yokel characters that Griffith was most associated with.

Both actors will be missed.


  1. August Lehe

    I never realised that Griffith was in “From Here to Eternity with Borgnine.” How did I miss him? WOW!

    • Josh Zyber

      I threw this post together too quickly last night. Turns out Griffith was in the 1979 TV miniseries version of From Here to Eternity, not the movie with Borgnine. I’ve corrected the post.

  2. lordbowler

    Another Borgnine movie soon to be released on Blu-Ray is a favorite of mine:

    Ice Station Zebra

    He will be missed!

    Bruce Campbell wrote some nice things about Borgnine in his autobiography when he was on the set of McHale’s Navy (The Movie). He had some not so nice things to say about the star, Tom Arnold. Good to see that some younger stars still respect their elders.

    I recommend “If Chins Could Kill, Confessions of a B-Movie Actor”.

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