A Senator from South Carolina; born in Charleston, Charleston County, S.C., January 1, 1922; attended the public schools of Charleston; graduated, The Citadel 1942 and University of South Carolina Law School 1947; admitted to the bar in 1947 and commenced law practice in Charleston; served in the United States Army 1942-1945; elected to the South Carolina general assembly in 1948, 1950, and 1952; speaker pro tempore, South Carolina house of representatives; elected lieutenant governor of South Carolina 1954; elected governor of South Carolina 1958, serving from 1959 to 1963; presidential appointee to several federal commissions; elected in a special election on November 8, 1966, as a Democrat to the United States Senate to complete the unexpired term of Olin D. Johnston; reelected in 1968, 1974, 1980, 1986, 1992 and 1998 and served from November 9, 1966, to January 3, 2005; chair, Committee on the Budget (Ninety-sixth Congress), Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (One Hundredth through One Hundred Third Congresses; One Hundred Seventh Congress [January 3-20, 2001; June 6, 2001-January 3, 2003]); unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 1984; was not a candidate for reelection to the Senate in 2004.
In 1946, he married Patricia Salley. They had four children, Michael, Helen, Patricia and Ernest, and were divorced in 1970. His daughter Patricia died in 2001. In 1971, he married Rita Liddy, who died in 2012.
He is survived by three children, Michael Hollings, Helen Hollings Reardon and Ernest Hollings III; a sister, Barbara Hollings Siegling; seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.