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Ernest Borgnine was "in excellent health" until recent illness

Actor Ernest Borgnine reads the children's book "The Rainbow Fish" for Storyline Online, presented by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, at the SAG Foundation Actors Center on Jan. 12, 2011, in Los Angeles. Getty

(CBS/AP) Actor Ernest Borgnine, reportedly in good health until just recently, worked almost  until his death Sunday in Los Angeles at age 95.

The actor had been "in excellent health until a recent illness," according to a statement from Borgnine's family obtained by Reuters.

Pictures: Ernest Borgnine, 1917-2012
Actor Ernest Borgnine dies at 95

His longtime spokesperson, Harry Flynn, added that Borgnine recovered from unspecified surgery a month ago, but his condition deteriorated rapidly after he visited the hospital on Tuesday for a medical checkup.

Flynn said that Borgnine died of renal failure Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with his family by his side, according to the Associated Press.

Borgnine, born Ermes Effron Borgino in 1917, became known for playing tough-guy characters before earning an Academy Award for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in the 1955 film "Marty." His other credits include roles in "From Here to Eternity," "Bad Day at Black Rock," "The Dirty Dozen," "The Wild Bunch," "The Flight of the Phoenix," "The Poseidon Adventure" and the 1960s sitcom "McHale's Navy."

He was married five times, including a brief union with actress Ethel Merman that lasted less than six weeks. His fifth marriage - to Tova Traesnaes in 1973 - was the one that endured.

Flynn told Reuters that Borgnine was the oldest living Oscar recipient for best actor, and continued  to work until very recently.

Younger TV viewers will recognize Borgnine as the voice of Mermaid Man on "Spongebob Squarepants." Two of his final film roles included a bit part as a CIA records keeper in the 2011 action-comedy "Red" and the lead role as an aging nursing home patient in "The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez," which is reportedly set for release later this year.

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