Ernest Borgnine is a true living legend. The Connecticut-born actor, 94, is still getting recognized for his body of work. On Saturday night, the Oscar winner (1955’s Marty) will be given a lifetime achievement award from the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Everybody Loves Raymond’s Doris Roberts, his costar in his latest movie Another Harvest Moon, is the presenter. Attendees of the event will be able to see the movie, about a diabetic man (Borgnine) living out his last years in a nursing home surrounded by a bevy of female companions, including Roberts, Anne Meara and Piper Laurie. A Q&A with the two stars will follow.
We caught up with the father of four who’s been married five times (Ethel Merman was No.3; current wife is QVC queen Tova Borgnine).
What attracted you to this movie?
It’s something I felt that was about life itself. It’s what happens to people in the last [stages] of their lives. It’s something you have to think about because it’s real. In this world there are so many phony kind of things. This is about what counts. And it got my heart moving. I said, ‘Man I’d like to try that.’
What’s the most fun you had making a movie?
I like to have fun on the set on every picture that comes along. I always like a kind of leniency. Eventually, everyone settles down and becomes their character, but you can be light, too. [1960s series] McHale’s Navy was great, but comedy is hard to do. It’s an altogether different thing.
How did it feel to win an Oscar?
Marty was a little picture. I made $5,000, but of course I would have done it for nothing because it was my first starring role. We finished and I went about my business and suddenly they say, ‘You’re up for an Academy Award.’ I say, ‘What? That’s crazy!’ Right up to the very moment, I had no idea I was gonna win. I was looking out there across at the audience – Jimmy Cagney, Burt Lancaster, Clark Gable and all the rest of them. All of a sudden, my wife says, ‘They called your name!’ I went up there and they handed me this thing. I was an Oscar winner. Can you imagine?!