Tova Borgnine Estate Donates to the U.S. Navy Memorial

Celebrating their 25th Anniversary at Chasens, Beverly Hills, 1998

Life is not forever. Love is.

Tova DePaolis Borgnine 1941–2022

Ermes Effron "Ernest" Borgnine 1917–2012

The bequest to the Navy is Tova's gift to her beloved husband of 40 years. A plaque dedicated in their memory is now displayed at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Ernie and Tova Shared a Love of Country and the Sea

Ernie served in the Navy, enjoyed boating, and was an avid fisherman. Tova, who immigrated to the U.S. from Norway as a child, was a patriotic American with great pride in the seafaring heritage of her Viking ancestors.

  • Ernie the Sailor 1935–1945

    Gunner's Mate First Class. Ernie joined the Navy hoping to see the world.

  • A duty station in Hawaii was one of the high points of his 10 year Navy adventure. He kept in touch with shipmates throughout his life.

  • That's Ernie with his very proud Mama in the top right corner. The photo was taken in 1945. Ten years later, he'd win an Academy Award.

  • Return to the Navy...sort of

    After a decade of working in motion pictures, Ernie put on the uniform again as Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale in the zany TV comedy, McHale's Navy.

  • Running lines

    Ernie going over the script on the McHale's Navy set at Universal Studios.

  • Rehearsal

    Everyone should have this much fun at work.

  • Honored by Ellis Island

    Years after emigrating to the United States with her mother, Aase, Tova was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1993. She was a proud American.

  • Facelift in a Jar

    The products that launched Tova's beauty empire. Through years of testing (often on Ernie and his Hollywood friends) these products have evolved into the Cactine line of skincare that is still at the heart of TOVA Beverly Hills!

  • Love of Liberty

    The Borgnines had homes in Beverly Hills and Philadephia, where Tova sold her beauty line on QVC. Here, while visiting Independence National Historical Park, Ernie kisses the Liberty Bell.

  • A Fish Story

    Known for his love of fishing, Ernie was featured in the "World of Sport Fishing" program. He loved fishing with Tova, claiming that when she tagged along, the fish always bit.

  • Quite an upgrade from PT-73!

    One of the many boats the Borgnines owned through the years.

  • Wedding Vow Renewal

    Where else but at sea? Aboard the Sea Goddess, 1991.

  • Inspired by Ernie

    Tova captured "the essence of the confident man. Sophisticated, yet rugged."

    Hey, Sailor! Get Handsome 
  • The Blue Angels

    Ernie served as the Honorary Chief for over 50 years.

  • Daredevil

    Tova loved to accompany Ernie to Navy events and even took the opportunity to fly with the famed squadron.

  • Visiting Troops and the V.A.

    Ernie and Tova visited troops across the globe and hoped to visit every V.A. hospital. They may well have succeeded.

  • SpongeBob SquarePants

    Younger fans may not remember Marty or The Wild Bunch, but they always recognize Ernie as geriatric superhero Mermaid Man.

  • The Lone Sailor

    Ernie said his Oscar statuette would need to "step aside" when presented with the Lone Sailor Award in 1997.

TOVA Beverly Hills

Beauty, Please!

The U.S. Navy Memorial

The Borgnine family are longtime supporters of the Navy and the U.S. Navy Memorial's mission to "Honor, Recognize, and celebrate the men and women of the Sea Services, past, present, and future; and to Inform the public about their service." The family hopes to inspire others to give to this wonderful foundation.

Visit the USNM