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Oscars, Schmoscars! Sean Penn wins first annual Ernie award

Christopher Murray

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From Marty to McHale to Mermaidman, the late Ernest Borgnine worked for six decades, parlaying his unconventional leading man looks into a phenomenal career in film and TV. The New York Times wrote about his approach to acting in his 2012 obituary.

Asked about his acting methods in 1973, Mr. Borgnine told The New York Times: “No Stanislavsky. I don’t chart out the life histories of the people I play. If I did, I’d be in trouble. I work with my heart and my head, and naturally emotions follow.” Sometimes he prayed, he said, or just reflected on character-appropriate thoughts. “If none of that works,” he added, “I think to myself of the money I’m making.”

Borgnine might be gone, but his legacy lives on in his characters, and his often impolitic utterances, and on the newest acting award, the Ernies. The first Ernest Borgnine Movie Star Gala happened Saturday night at the Sportsmen's Lodge.  The winner of the first Ernie was Sean Penn, who sent word that he couldn't accept the award because he's back in Haiti, helping earthquake victims. But he sent a letter that reads, in part:

While I'm genuinely sorry to not be in the location that Ernie is most likely to be staring down at tonite, if only so I could look up and say "Hey!," I'm very pleased to be acknowledged with anything bearing his name.

Off-Ramp correspondent Christopher Murray (Dean Rivers, Zoey 101; Nick Newport Sr., Parks and Rec; Phil Mathewson, Mad Men) attended the event, with his date Loretta Swit, and amidst all the TV and film celebs who no longer make the front pages, received this nugget of wisdom from Leonard Maltin:

Just because you're not on the hot list of the moment, doesn't mean you don't matter anymore. This is a town that can be very fickle sometimes. Sure, there are other parties going on this weekend where you'll see current box office names, but it doesn't mean that people who've been paying their dues a long time don't still matter very much.



By the way, that's Christopher Murray with John Rabe in the opening and closing scenes of John's parody song, "Call Me Rabe."