The November 12th Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction in Dallas will open with a session of the personal collection of the Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine. From the 1948 employment contract with the Barter Theater Repertory Company believed to be his first professional acting engagement (it states that he was to be paid $65 per week!), to the tuxedo he wore when accepting the SAG ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award in 2011, the collection contains a trove of artifacts from his prolific and varied career which spanned nearly six decades. Though he had never acted before the age of 28, when he left the Navy unsure of his next move, Borgnine fell so deeply in love with the craft that he was famously keen to continue working into his nineties. “Every time I step in front of a camera, I feel young again,” he once said.
The Borgnine session on November 12th will wind its way through 60 years of personal and entertainment history: military awards, scripts annotated in Borgnine’s hand, mementos from his most memorable performances, fan art, and items inscribed to Borgnine by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, and Ronald Reagan are among the items on offer. Perhaps the most recognizable piece of costuming is the Naval officer cap worn by Borgnine in his role as Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale on the sitcom “McHale’s Navy” from 1962-1966. Bidding on this iconic item will open at $15,000.
Among Borgnine’s career highlights was his 1955 Academy Award for Best Leading Actor as the title character in the United Artists film “Marty.” The session contains two mementos from the film: a meat cleaver affixed with a plaque commemorating the performance, which was presented to Borgnine on the October 24th, 1956 episode of the NBC television series “This Is Your Life,” and a pair of cuff links engraved with the cartoon image of his character which was used in the movie posters. Bidding will open at $600 and $500, respectively.
Wishing to share the objects that tell the story of their father’s career with his fans around the world, Nancee Borgnine and Cris Borgnine are offering the lots accompanied by a letter of provenance signed by both.
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