Monday, July 9, 2012

Rant #772: McHale Buried At Sea

Two TV icons died in the space of a few days of each other.

Andy Griffith died last week, and Ernest Borgnine died yesterday.

Borgnine's career path was a bit different than Griffith's, as Borgnine continued to be better known for his movie roles than for his TV roles, while Griffith was basically TV all the way, even though he did make several memorable movies early in his career.

But Borgnine was a movie star first, a TV star second.

He scored an Oscar with "Marty," an absolutely wonderful film about a lonely guy in his 30s who doesn't believe in himself--until he meets a girl who basically is his mirror image. Just about everyone could relate to him and his character, and the film made him a star.

Borgnine in real life had no trouble with the ladies, being married four times.

But let's fast forward to 1962.

Borgnine was in several other movie roles, but he seemed to almost be a one-hit actor, as the other movies and the roles he starred in generally weren't that memorable.

He chose to move into television as the star of a show about the commander of a World War II PT boat, and the rest is history.

"McHale's Navy" was one of the most beloved TV shows of its era (1962-1966), and one of the reasons was that Borgnine not only played Quinton McHale, but he played himself.

Borgnine was a Navy veteran, so he knew the terrain he was working in. Stealing a page from Phil Silvers, "McHale's Navy" was a sort of "Sgt. Bilko" on the water, as McHale led a band of misfit sailors during the war, not only battling the enemy, but also taking on Navy authority as they connived their way through five seasons of adventures.

The ensemble cast was brilliant, including Joe Flynn and Tim Conway, and a very young Gavin McLeod.

After the show ended, Borgnine left TV for good, and appeared in numerous high-power movie features including "The Dirty Dozen," "Ice Station Zebra," and "The Wild Bunch," and he also was one of the stars of one of my favorite movies from my youth, "Willard."

He was also in "The Poseidon Adventure," "Escape From New York," and he had a cameo in the absolutely horrible "McHale's Navy" film of several years ago.

But he and McHale could not be separated, and he appeared with other cast members on bits that were part of the show's DVD release.

I think one of the charms of Borgnine was that not only was he a great actor, but he poured himself into every role he was in. He had a bombastic personality, and he brought that to every role he played.

But to me, Borgnine will always be Quinton McHale.

As a kid, I watched that show in reruns, and found it to be quite funny.

Not just "quite funny," but hilarious.

Even though today, we might cringe at some of the references made in the dialogue on the show, it was a really funny sitcom, and it was funny because you believed in Borgnine's character. He made that character endearing, believable, and memorable, all at the same time.

So R.I.P., Ernest Borgnine. Now you and Flynn can go at it once again in heaven.

(Just as an aside, how many TV stars have passed away thus far this year? In addition to Borgnine and Griffith, we had Don Grady, Davy Jones, Doris Singleton and several others I can't remember right now leave us. It's been a bad year for deaths of these TV stars of yore.)

No comments:

Post a Comment


yasmin lawsuit