L’acteur américain Ernest Borgnine, oscarisé en 1955 pour son rôle de boucher timide et amoureux dans le film "Marty", est décédé dimanche à l’âge de 95 ans, a annoncé son agent.
"Oui, malheureusement c’est vrai", a déclaré à l’AFP Lynda Bensky, confirmant l’annonce du décès du comédien par des médias locaux mais ne fournissant aucun détail sur les circonstances de sa mort. Des médias locaux avaient annoncé peu auparavant qu’Ernest Borgnine était décédé dimanche au Cedar-Sinai Medical Center à Los Angeles, entouré de sa famille. Né dans une famille d’origine italienne, Ernest Borgnine ne se destine pas particulièrement à la comédie dans sa jeunesse. À 18 ans, il s’engage dans la Navy, jusqu’en 1945. Ce n’est qu’à la fin de la guerre qu’il s’inscrit à la Randall School of Drama, à Hartford, Connecticut. Il fait ses débuts sur scène à Broadway, quatre ans plus tard, dans la pièce Harvey.En 1951, Borgnine vit à Los Angeles : il décroche un petit rôle dans le film The Whistle at Easton Falls, de Robert Siodmak. C’est en 1953 qu’il obtient son premier grand rôle, dans le film maintes fois oscarisé Tant qu’il y aura des hommes. Il y incarne le sergent Fatso Judson, violent et cruel. Il donne ensuite sa pleine mesure dans Un homme est passé (1954), Vera Cruz (1954) ou Johnny Guitare (1954), trois films qui l’imposent comme l’un des « méchants » d’Hollywood.
Oscarisé en 1955
Ernest Borgnine obtient l’Oscar du meilleur acteur en 1955 pour le rôle de Marty Pilletti dans Marty de Delbert Mann. Ce rôle lui permet d’aborder une nouvelle facette de son travail d’acteur : il y joue un boucher timide et tendre. Par la suite, il retrouve son emploi-type de « dur », notamment dans Les Vikings (1958). Il participe à quelques longs métrages devenus « classiques », tels Les Douze Salopards (1967) — où il campe un savoureux général — et La Horde sauvage (1969). Depuis, il ne cesse de tourner : sa filmographie ne compte pas moins de 140 films. Dans les années 1980 et 1990, il apparaît dans quelques fictions d’anticipation qui ont marqué le public : New York 1997 (1981), de John Carpenter ou encore Bienvenue à Gattaca (1997). De 1984 à 1986, il joue dans les trois premières saisons de la série télévisée culte Supercopter (Airwolf).
« Jouer, c’est simple pour moi… »
En 2004, il interprète Rolling star, dans le film inspiré de la bande dessinée, Blueberry. Loin des personnages sanguinaires qui l’ont rendu célèbre, il incarne un vieil homme doux et rêveur. Ernest Borgnine prête aussi sa voix au super-héros vieillissant « l’homme-sirène » dans le dessin-animé Bob l’éponge. Alors qu’il a joué très souvent des rôles de sadique et de violent, il est reconnu dans toute la profession pour sa gentillesse, son grand humour, sa jovialité et sa très grande humilité malgré une carrière exceptionnelle. Le comédien s’était marié cinq fois et avait quatre enfants. "Jouer pour moi, c’est très simple. Vous devez juste utiliser ensemble votre coeur et votre tête", confiait-il en 2007 à l’AFP. Dans la même interview, il conseillait néanmoins aux apprentis acteurs "de se chercher un vrai travail avant d’essayer de décrocher un rôle.
American actor Ernest Borgnine dies at 95
Actor Ernest Borgnine, whose barrel-chested, bulldog looks made him a natural for tough-guy roles in films like "From Here to Eternity" but who won an Oscar for playing a sensitive loner in "Marty," died on Sunday at age 95, his publicist said.
The real-life U.S. Navy veteran who became a household name during the 1960s by starring as the maverick commander of a World War Two patrol boat in the popular television comedy "McHale’s Navy," died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, longtime spokesman Harry Flynn said. Borgnine, who continued to work until very recently, had been the oldest living recipient of an Academy Award for best actor, Flynn said. A statement from the actor’s family said he "had been in excellent health until a recent illness." Flynn said Borgnine recovered from unspecified surgery he underwent a month ago but his condition deteriorated rapidly after he visited the hospital on Tuesday for a medical checkup. His last screen credit was the lead role of an aging nursing home patient in a film set for release later this year, "The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez." The performance earned Borgnine a best actor award at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where it debuted in April, Flynn said. With his burly profile, gruff voice and gap-toothed leer, Borgnine was on the verge of being typecast as the bad guy early in his career, following a string of convincing performances as the heavy in such films as "Johnny Guitar" in 1954 and "Bad Day at Black Rock in 1955." Borgnine’s most memorable turn as a menacing tough guy was his breakout role in the 1953 Oscar-winning film "From Here to Eternity" as the sadistic Sergeant "Fatso" Judson, who terrorizes and eventually kills Frank Sinatra’s character, Private Angelo Maggio.
UGLY DUCKLING ROLE
But Borgnine broke free from the bad-guy rut and won his own Oscar with a rare leading-man role in 1955′s "Marty," playing a warm-hearted New York butcher who lamented, "One fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain’t got it." In addition to his Academy Award, Borgnine’s work in "Marty" led to more sympathetic roles in such films as "Jubal" (1956) and "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (1956). Critic Bosley Crowther described Borgnine’s Oscar-winning performance in "Marty," a film version of a television play by Paddy Chayevsky, as "a beautiful blend of the crude and strangely gentle and sensitive."Some critics hinted that Borgnine was a "Marty" in real life, but the actor, who was married five times, took exception by saying, "I’m no playboy, but I’m no dumb slob either." "Marty" also won Oscars for best picture, best director and adapted screenplay.
"Ernie is the nicest man I’ve ever worked with," said Sidney Lanfield, who directed him on the TV sitcom "McHale’s Navy." "When he says, ‘Hello! How are you?’ or ‘Glad to see you!’ you can bet the line has not been rehearsed." The television show, in which he starred as the skipper of a misfit PT boat crew skirting Navy regulations while chasing Japanese submarines, ran on ABC from the fall of 1962 until August 1966 and reinvigorated Borgnine’s career. Funnyman Tim Conway co-starred as McHale’s ensign. He starred again as Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale in a 1964 big-screen adaptation of the TV show, and returned to supporting character work in such movies such as "The Flight of the Phoenix" (1965), "The Dirty Dozen" (1968), Sam Peckinpah’s "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972). He appeared in dozens of films in all.
He was born Ermes Effron Borgino in Hamden, Connecticut, and did not take up acting until after a 10-year hitch in the U.S. Navy, including a stint during World War II as a gunner’s mate on a destroyer in the Pacific. "I just couldn’t see myself going into a factory where I saw these pasty-faced fellows walking in and walking out after stamping their cards," Borgnine once said. Using money he earned from the G.I. Bill, Borgnine studied at the Randall School of Dramatic Arts in Hartford and performed on stage for several years at a Virginia theater. His first Hollywood job was a low-budget picture, "China Corsair," in 1951, starring in ethnic makeup as the Chinese proprietor of a gambling club. He made his Broadway debut in the 1949 Mary Chase comedy "Harvey," and after a trio of early-’50s films appeared on Broadway again in 1952 in another Chase production, "Mrs. McThing," this time opposite Helen Hayes. Hayes ended up being a godmother to the eldest of Borgnine’s three children, daughter Nancee, by his first wife. Borgnine returned to series television as co-star of the mid-1980s action film "Airwolf." And in 1988 he portrayed a mafia chief in the big-screen film "Spike of Bensonhurst." Working well into his 90s, Borgnine earned an Emmy nomination for his 2009 guest appearance on the final two episodes of the television hospital drama "ER," playing the husband of a dying elderly woman. The following year, he notched a cameo role as a CIA records keeper in the spy thriller "Red." He performed voice work for animated productions late in his life, including "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "All Dogs Go to Heaven." Borgnine’s 1964 marriage to singer-actress Ethel Merman barely lasted a month. He said it broke up because fans paid more attention to him than her during their honeymoon. The longest of Borgnine’s five marriages was his last – to Tova Traesnaes, whom he married in 1973. Despite his rough looks, Borgnine appeared in ads touting the face-rejuvenating powers of beauty products from a company she started. REUTERS