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Ernest Borgnine died of kidney failure, his publicist says

July 8, 2012 |  2:52 pm

Actor Ernest Borgnine, who won an Oscar for his performance in the 1955 film "Marty" and starred in the television show "McHale's Navy," died of apparent kidney failure Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to his publicist.

Borgnine died about 1:30 p.m. at the hospital surrounded by family members, Harry Flynn, a longtime publicist for the actor, told the Times.

Flynn said Borgnine went in for a routine checkup Tuesday — his “95,000-mile checkup,” Borgnine had joked — and it “turned out to be a little more serious than we thought.”

PHOTOS: Ernest Borgnine | 1917-2012

The son of poor Italian immigrants, Borgnine appeared in more than 200 movies. He had a knack for tough-guy roles, such as Fatso Judson, the brutal sergeant in 1953's Oscar-winning "From Here to Eternity." But his career was also a varied one. In "Marty," he was a lovelorn butcher. On the cartoon show "SpongeBob SquarePants," he gave voice to the Mermaid Man.

Borgnine continued performing well into his 90s, earning a Golden Globe nomination in 2007 for the telemovie "A Grandpa for Christmas" and an Emmy nomination in 2009 for his turn in the final episode of the long-running TV drama "ER."

In an interview a few years ago with The Times, http://articles.latimes.com/print/2008/aug/06/entertainment/et-borgnine6 Borgnine bemoaned that some of his peers had been forgotten by youth-obsessed Hollywood.

"It's a shame, isn't it? They just sit in a chair and just melt away. I would love to see these people" in films, he said. "Everything is youth oriented and shoot-'em-up and more sex. This is what sells today. I say: These older people know what it's all about. They know things. It's all ingested within them."

Borgnine said he was able to keep working because he'd left big agencies for a smaller one. He also tried to keep his mind sharp by reading constantly.

"That is the thing that counts. You can have your body not feeling so good, but if your mind is working, you got it made. That is the way I figured it out," he said.


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Photo: Ernest Borgnine, left and Joe Flynn in "McHale's Navy." Credit: ABC