"I find it terribly relaxing," he told The Times in 1996. "It's like driving a big car. You see everything. The minute you get out of the cities, it's wonderful. You become part of America."
Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2011, his career in front of the camera had spanned six decades. And at age 94, the venerable actor was still going strong.
As he said in 2008 when he received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as a retired song-and-dance man in the TV-movie "A Grandpa for Christmas": "You die on the vine if you just sit down in a chair and get old. The idea is to get up out of the chair and go out there and hustle."
Borgnine's final role came earlier this year in "The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez," as a retired radio DJ with an unfulfilled dream of stardom who winds up in a nursing home staffed by Latin American immigrants.
Borgnine was married five times, including to actress Katy Jurado from 1959 to 1964, and briefly to Broadway musical star Ethel Merman in 1964.
In 1973 he married his Norwegian-born fifth wife, Tova, who became head of her own cosmetics company.
Photos: Notable deaths of 2012
Besides his wife, he is survived by his children Nancee, Cristofer and Sharon Borgnine and David Johnson; six grandchildren; and a sister, Evelyn Velardi.
Services will be private.
Times staff writer Kate Mather contributed to this report.