“It's important to be Ernest Borgnine.”
“I am Ernest of Borgnine. You will be geriatric. Resistance is pizza.”
Ernest Borgnine, born Ermes Effron Borgnino, is an Italian-American war veteran, political comentator, and supermodel.
In the early twentieth century, an Italian man named Antonio Borgnino from Milan met a French woman named Carla Boselli in a bistro in Piedmont. Eleven months later Carla emigrated to the United States with her two-month-old son, Ermes. He was named after the Greek diety Hermes, whose name his mother did not know how to spell, since she was French and knew only a little Greek.
Borgnine attended primary school at first in New York, but when his mother became ill in 1923, they returned to Europe. Ermes attended secondary school in Milan, hoping to find his father, but this reunion never happened, and when his mother died, he returned to the United States. He applied to attend drama school in California, but his application was turned down, and Ermes then returned to the east cost and attended the Anapolis Naval Academy, finishing just in time to serve as an office in the final years of World War II.
Ermes was initially placed by the Navy on the cruiser Harvey, as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade. After a squabble with one Sgt Fatso Judson, Ermes recovered and before long impressed his commanding officers and was promoted to a full Lieutenant. When the Captain of the Harvey was promoted to Rear Admiral and given command of a carrier group after the Battle of the Coral Sea, Ermes was promoted to Captain and given command of the light carrier Dirty Dozen.
Shortly thereafter, the carrier group was ordered North to take part in the Battle of Midway. (Other ships in the group were commanded by Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda.) It was this battle that earned Borgnine the nickname Ernest, which he later adopted as his legal name. The story goes that during the battle, Captain Ermes ordered his torpedo plane squadron to attack the Japanese fleet. Being underarmed against the Japanese Zero fighters, the plane squadron commander objected that surely the captain was joking. "No," he replied, "I'm deadly earnest." The torpedo plane squadron did attack, and sustained heavy casualties doing so, but at the end of the battle four Japanese carriers were out of commission, and the nickname Deadly Earnest became an appellation of admiration among Borgnine's men.
Returning to civilian life after the war, Borgnine changed his legal name to Ernest, to capitalize on his military reputation, and began to get involved in politics. Borgnine had what was known in the industry as an interesting voice and was asked to sponsor products that ranged from aluminum siding to venus flytraps. At first he aspired to run for office, agreeing to serve as the Vice Presidential running mate of Ron Paul, but ultimately formed what became the radio precursor to the McLaughlin Group: a political talk radio program called The Wild Bunch, a roundtable which he co-hosted with Don Knotts, Larry Blevins, and the future singer of Molly Hatchet, Danny Joe Brown.
Besides an interesting voice, Ernest also has an interesting face. This was first noticed by Tim Conway, who became Ernest's agent and secured him several of his early modelling jobs, pitching to clients that Ernest had the face of a mermaid. This earned Ernest a lucrative contract modelling for beauty soap advertisements for Bath and Body Works.
At first Ernest appeared only in magazine advertisements and primarily from the neck up, but eventually his modelling career took on a life of its own, and by the late 1980s he began to appear in television advertisements, fashion magazines, and expensive underwear catalogs.