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Oscar-winning thespian Borgnine dead at 95

LOS ANGELES--Veteran actor Ernest Borgnine, the star of dozens of films and television shows who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a shy butcher in love in “Marty,” died Sunday, his manager said. He was 95.

“It's a very sad day. The industry has lost someone great, the caliber of which we will never see again. A true icon,” the manager, Lynda Bensky, said in an email to AFP.

“But more importantly the world has lost a sage and loving man who taught us all how to “grow young.” His infectious smile and chuckle made the world a happier place.”

Bensky said the actor died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with his family at his side.

Born to Italian immigrants on Jan. 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut, Borgnine was primarily known for his roles in comedies such as the popular TV series “McHale's Navy” and dramas like the World War II film “The Dirty Dozen.”

The U.S. Navy veteran won an Academy Award for best actor for his role in the 1955 film “Marty,” which also took home Oscars for best picture, best director and best screenplay.

Tributes to Borgnine poured in on Twitter, from ordinary folk to fellow actors to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy.

Actress Marlee Matlin, also an Oscar winner, tweeted: “So sad to read about passing of Ernest Borgnine. We spoke recently at Paramount's 100th anniversary photo. A true legend & a gentleman. RIP.”

“God bless Ernest Borgnine. An amazingly strong spirit. R.I.P. Ernie,” said actor Gary Sinise.

Borgnine — who began his career as a stage actor and first shot to prominence in Hollywood when he played Sergeant “Fatso” Judson in “From Here to Eternity” — was also known for his role on the television series “Airwolf.”

He also appeared on the celebrity game show “The Hollywood Squares.”

Borgnine continued to work into his 90s, voicing the character Mermaid Man on the animated children's series “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

In 2009, he appeared in a guest starring role on long-running TV drama “ER” for which he earned an Emmy nomination.

The year before, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in the made-for-TV movie “A Grandpa for Christmas.”

The Screen Actors Guild gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

“We mourn the loss of Ernest Borgnine. A wonderful man, actor and our 47th Life Achievement Recipient. Ernie, you will be deeply missed,” said a tweet on the official feed of the SAG Awards.

The gap-toothed actor wed five times, including once to Broadway megastar Ethel Merman — a marriage that lasted only a month. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Tova. Borgnine had four children.

In an interview with AFP in 2007, Borgnine emphasized the importance of being a team player as an actor.

“When you're part of an ensemble like I was in 'From Here To Eternity' and 'The Poseidon Adventure' you realize you stick out badly if you try to steal a scene instead of being a part of a team,” he said.

“Acting to me is very simple. You just need to use your heart and your head together.”

Borgnine said at the time that he would advise aspiring actors to “get a real job before you try to get an acting job.”

“Learn about life and then learn your craft. And don't wear dark glasses on screen because you think you're cool. The eyes are an actor's best asset,” Borgnine said.

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In this Jan. 30, 2011 file photo, Ernest Borgnine poses backstage after receiving the life achievement award at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. A spokesman said Sunday, July 8, that Borgnine has died at the age of 95.

(AP)

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