Ernest Borgnine, who died at the age of 95 today, had a television and film career that spanned an astonishing 60+ years.
Always charismatic and with a flair for the eccentric (a big plus in my book), Borgnine is perhaps best known for the character of Lt. Commander Quinton McHale in McHale's Navy, which ran for 138 episodes during the early to mid-1960s.
Amazingly, Hulu currently has every episode available in full. Here's the very first episode, "An Ensign for McHale," which first aired on October 11th, 1962 (right in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as all obsessive fans of Mad Men will know!):
James Plath from Movie Metropolis sets things up really nicely:
"McHale's Navy" debuted in 1962, three years before "Hogan's Heroes" and 10 years before "M*A*S*H," and it was truly a situation comedy. Yes, the cast and characters delivered the laughs, but the formula was what gave them the jokes…. McHale was the benevolent commander who let his men get away with murder as long as they didn't go too far, and as long as they did their duty when called upon. And almost always, McHale and his men would get off the hook because they did their jobs—fighting the enemy—really well.
Digging through Borgnine's deep list of credits on IMDB, it's fun to look at some of the other roles that the renowned actor portrayed over the years.
Two appearances on the fantastically titled Captain Video and His Video Rangers in 1951 (that's 61 years ago, kids!) stands out. Borgnine played a character called Nargola in the science fiction series about the Guardian of the Safety of the World. And later he would play a part in the equally cool sounding show, Future Cop.
Borgnine also guest starred on a wide array of TV shows over the years, including Get Smart, Little House on the Prairie, Magnum, P.I., Murder, She Wrote, and Love Boat. And his TV movie credits are impressive as well, which include 1985's The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission.
In recent years, Borgnine could be heard as the voice of Mermaid Man on the beloved kids' show, SpongeBob SquarePants.