It’s a sad day for SpongeBob, as we at TIAH Blog pause to honor actor Ernest Borgnine, who left us at age 95 on July 08, 2012.
To most, he was best known as the star of the film “Marty”.
To me, he will always be Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale, the “glue” that held together the many funny “parts” of the classic TV comedy McHALE’S NAVY (1962-1966). With such wonderful comedic character actors in the cast as Tim Conway, Joe Flynn, Carl Ballantine, and Bob Hastings, it took a special presence to… er, “steer that particular ship” – and Ernest Borgnine WAS that presence. Was he EVER!
Beyond that, he had memorable roles in such films as “Willard” (Yes, that “Rats” movie!) and Irwin Allen’s “The Poseidon Adventure”… and he even guested on THE SIMPSONS!
In his last decade, oddly, Mr. Borgnine may have been best known for his voicing appearances on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS as “Mermaid Man” of the old (and I do mean OLD) superhero team of “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy” – where he is reunited with McHALE’S NAVY alum Tim Conway.
“Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy” were the “Sixties Batman and Robin of the Sea” – or “Aquaman and Aqualad”, if you will. Fanboy SpongeBob has watched their sixties TV reruns every day – and has built up so great an admiration for the dynamic subsurface-duo, that he fails to see that they’ve become senior citizens and expects them to go on “hero-ing” as they always did. He and pal Patrick become every bit as annoying to them as you KNOW fanboys can become.
In my view, it was a MASTERSTROKE on the part of SpongeBob’s producers to cast Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway in the roles of aging sixties TV stars… because that’s exactly what they are! They were REALLY THERE – as a team – for the period SpongeBob and Patrick “geek-out” over! (…I “geek-out” over that period TOO! Wanna make somethin’ of it?! HUH?)
So great was this concept that it became a standard of the series. Borgnine appeared as Mermaid Man in 13 episodes from 1999 to 2011! To this point in the run, following the show on DVD as I describe HERE, I’ve only seen the first three of Borgnine and
appearances – but they are ALL winners.
Indeed, # 3 (aptly titled “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III”) finds SpongeBob and Patrick minding the heroes’ heroic lair while MM and BB take a vacation. Oh, the lair is filled with bizarre gadgets (as sixties superheroes are wont to have) – and a very mean “frozen villain” magnificently voiced by John Rhys-Davies. …Do I need to say more?
appearances are a true highlight of the series – and imagine that Ernest Borgnine
did many of these past the age of 90!
Rest in peace, Ernest Borgnine!
SpongeBob and the rest of us salute you!