Borgnine returned to his parents' house in Connecticut after his Navy discharge without a job to go back to and no direction. In a British Film Institute interview about his life and career, he said:
After World War II, we wanted no more part in war. I didn't even want to be a Boy Scout. I went home and said that I was through with the Navy and so now, what do we do? So I went home to mother, and after a few weeks of patting me on the back and "You did good," and everything else, one day she said, "Well?" like mothers do. Which meant, "All right, you gonna get a job or what?"
He took a local factory job, but was unwilling to settle down to that kind of work. His mother encouraged him to pursue a more glamorous profession, and suggested to him that his personality would be well suited for the stage. He surprised his mother by taking the suggestion to heart, although his father was far from enthusiastic. In 2011, Borgnine remembered,
She said, "You always like getting in front of people and making a fool of yourself, why don't you give it a try?" I was sitting at the kitchen table and I saw this light. No kidding. It sounds crazy. And 10 years later, I had Grace Kelly handing me an Academy Award.