R. Lee Ermey, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ actor, dies at 74 - KPTV - FOX 12

R. Lee Ermey, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ actor, dies at 74

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(Meredith/AP) -- R. Lee Ermey, a former marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” has died.

Ermey’s longtime manager Bill Rogin says he died Sunday morning from pneumonia-related complications. He was 74.

It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey ("The Gunny") passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us. It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for. He has meant so much to so many people. And, it is extremely difficult to truly quantify all of the great things this man has selflessly done for, and on behalf of, our many men andwomen in uniform. He has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman of Full Metal Jacket fame was a hard and principled man. The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared deeply for others in need.

There is a quote made famous in Full Metal Jacket. It's actually the Riflemen's Creed. "This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine."

There are many Gunny's, but this one was OURS. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That's what he wanted most of all.

Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.

The Kanas native was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his memorable performance in "Full Metal Jacket," in which he immortalized lines such as: "What is your major malfunction?"

Born Ronald Lee Ermey in 1944, Ermey served 11 years in the Marine Corps and spent 14 months in Vietnam and then in Okinawa, Japan, where he became staff sergeant. His first film credit was as a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," which was quickly followed by a part in "The Boys in Company C" as a drill instructor.

He raked in more than 60 credits in film and television across his long career in the industry, often playing authority figures in everything from "Se7en" to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake.

The part he would become most well-known for, in "Full Metal Jacket," wasn't even originally his. Ermey had been brought on as a technical consultant for the 1987 film, but he had his eyes on the role of the brutal gunnery sergeant and filmed his own audition tape of him yelling out insults while tennis balls flew at him. An impressed Kubrick gave him the role.

Kubrick told Rolling Stone that 50 percent of Ermey's dialogue in the film was his own.

"In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn't know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don't know, 150 pages of insults," Kubrick said.

According to Kubrick, Ermey also had a terrible car accident one night in the middle of production and was out for four and half months with broken ribs.

Ermey would also go on to voice the little green army man Sarge in the "Toy Story" films. He also played track and field coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in "Prefontaine," General Kramer in "Toy Soldiers" and Mayor Tilman in "Mississippi Burning."

Ermey also hosted the History Channel series "Mail Call" and "Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey" and was a board member for the National Rifle Association, as well as a spokesman for Glock.

"He will be greatly missed by all of us," Rogin said. "It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for."

Rogin says that while his characters were often hard and principled, the real Ermey was a family man and a kind and gentle soul who supported the men and women who serve.

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