Excerpt: 'Ernie: The Autobiography'

Actor Ernest Borgnine's storied Tinsletown career has included an Oscar for his role in "Marty," a television sitcom and a host of riveting performances. For more than five decades, Hollywood has recognized Borgnine as one of its most respected and talented stars.

Now the thespian has penned his life's story, called "Ernie: The Autobiography." From his childhood as the son of Italian immigrants to his rise to the ranks of A-list actors, the now 91-year-old gives readers the inside track on his life.

Read an excerpt of "Ernie: The Autobiography" below.

Preface

It's Sunday night, January 13, 2008. Much to my delight, I've been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for my work in the Hallmark TV movie "A Grandpa for Christmas."

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I always get a little dreamy and reflective during awards ceremonies. Nominees always say, "Winning is nice, but it's a thrill just to be nominated." And outsiders think, Yeah, yeah, sure. But you really want to win.

Of course we do. However, it really is a thrill just to be nominated. Especially when you're my age (ninety-one). And to be acting, still, after nearly sixty years—that's a rare privilege.

So I'm sitting in my Beverly Hills home, the one I bought in 1965, watching the Golden Globes, looking at all the fresh young faces (to my eyes, sixty is fresh and young!), and thinking, If I were starting out today, what kind of parts would I be playing?

Given my size—five-foot-nine and hefty—chances are good I'd be offered roles like that big guy, the Thing, Michael Chiklis played in Fantastic Four. Or maybe that part John Travolta had in Hairspray. It's been a long time since I played a role in a dress or a toga. Not that anyone has a Web page calling for more of Ernie Borgnine's legs.

That's what's going through my mind as I'm tuned in to the Golden Globes. At the time—January 2008—the writer's strike was on and, as a result, the Golden Globe Awards ceremony has been stripped down to an hour-long special where the winners are simply announced and clips are shown from all the nominated movies and shows. However, I look at the bright side—it saved me the trouble of having to dry-clean my tux.

The presenters applaud as winners are announced, and my mind continues to drift. Please don't think I'm rude; I have to admit I don't know a lot of the winners or the shows and movies for which they're nominated. It's tough to keep up with all the channels, movies, and DVDs that are out there. When I started out there were three TV networks, no such thing as home video, and just a few studios making far fewer movies.

A reporter asked me earlier in the day, "Mr. Borgnine, do you have any plans to retire?"

I answered, "Retire to what? To work in the garden? Drive my beloved wife Tova crazy? (Or should that be 'crazier'?) Heck, no!"

A lot of what keeps me going is that old-fashioned work ethic I had pounded into me by my first-generation immigrant parents, bless them, when I was growing up in Connecticut.

Besides, I am an actor by profession and I love what I do.

Which brings me to this memoir. For years people have been telling me I should write my life story. I always respond, "I'm just a working stiff—who'd want to read about me?" That was my attitude for years. When I became the oldest living actor to be nominated for a Golden Globe (not to mention being the oldest living actor to have won an Oscar), I had a change of heart. All modesty aside, why shouldn't I write my life story?

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