Ernest Borgnine's family 'shocked' by actor's 'sudden passing'
Borgnine died of apparent kidney failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, surrounded by his wife, Tova, and other family members, according to Harry Flynn, his longtime publicist.
A statement from Borgnine's family said he "had been in excellent health until a recent illness" and that they were in "great shock and sorrow" over his death.
Flynn said Borgnine went in for a routine checkup Tuesday -- his "95,000-mile checkup," Borgnine joked -- that "turned out to be a little more serious than we thought."
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 character Mermaid Man.
Borgnine continued performing well into his 90s, earning a Golden Globe nomination in 2007 for his performance in the television movie "A Grandpa for Christmas," and an Emmy nomination in 2009 for his turn in the final episode of the long-running TV drama "ER."
His final role came earlier this year in "The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez," which debuted at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Before his acting career, Borgnine spent 10 years in the Navy, his family said, and the star of TV's "McHale's Navy" spent much of his time in Hollywood championing veteran-focused causes and charities. He received several awards honoring his work, including the Navy Memorial's Lone Sailor Award and the California Commendation Medal.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his children Nancee, Cristofer and Sharon Borgnine and David Johnson; six grandchildren; and a sister, Evelyn Velardi.
"Mr. Borgnine's family is deeply appreciative of the love and support of his many friends, associates and fans around the world," the family’s statement said.
Services will be private.
-- Kate Mather
Photo: Ernest Borgnine at the Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 2011. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times