I heard the sad news that Ernest Borgnine died today at the ripe old age of 95. What with this and the passing of Andy Griffith last week, we've lost two major stars of the classic TV era. Of course, apart from his starring role on McHale's Navy, Ernie was even more well known as a veteran character actor from the movies, earning an Academy Award for his poignant portrayal of the lonely New York butcher in the heartbreaking Marty, scripted by the brilliant Paddy Chayefsky.
It was just two years ago that Ernest Borgnine was a special guest at the Toronto Fan Expo, where he was signing autographs and chatting with his fans. Though I am certainly an avid autograph collector, I've made it my policy to only seek out celebrities that I actually really admire, which is why I attended the event that year specifically to meet Ernie, as well as Julie Newmar (the Catwoman on TV's Batman). As is often the case at Fan Expo, the longest line-ups of fans are usually found at the tables with the current crop of young actors and actresses from various sci-fi/fantasy movies and TV series. I feel sorry for the veteran performers who don't usually get as much traffic at their tables, although it works out well for me, as these are the only performers that I truly wish to meet.
As there were only a handful of people in line before me, I was able to meet Ernie fairly quickly. He greeted all of his fans with that familiar big gap-toothed grin and he was just so warm and inviting with everyone who came up to meet with him. Whereas some of the stars were not permitting photos to be taken (due to paid for photo ops being organized later in the day), Ernie was only too happy to pose for photos with his fans. I always ink up two originals of my caricatures so that I can present one to the star as a gift and get them to sign the second one for me, so that is what you see here in these pics that accompany this post. Ernie seemed genuinely delighted with my caricature of him in his role of TV's Quinton McHale.