Ernest Borgnine is known worldwide as the Oscar- and Emmy-winning character actor who starred in Marty, From Here to Eternity, McHale's Navy, and 139 other motion pictures and 44 television shows. Before that—from 1935 to 1945, he was a Bluejacket—an experience that he says shaped his life. His 2008 autobiography, Ernie, has been a best-seller. Here's former Gunner's Mate First-Class Borgnine's own story.
It was just like in the movies.
The year was 1935, and I was right out of high school, restless, and bored with my temporary job working on a vegetable truck. One day, on a delivery run through New Haven, Connecticut, I spotted a sign on a storefront that said "JOIN THE NAVY—SEE THE WORLD." Hey, I thought, I ought to look into that. So I stopped in to see the recruiter. Two days later, I was on a bus to the U.S. Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island.