R. Lee Ermey, a Golden Globe-nominated actor likely best known for his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, passed away on Sunday morning from complications of pneumonia.
He was 74 years old.
The sad piece of news was confirmed via Ermey official twitter account by his longtime manager, Bill Rogin, who wrote the following:
“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. Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”
Ermey was a Marine himself for 11 years, having retired from the service in 1971.
He was a staff sergeant who served in Vietnam and Okinawa, Japan and who was later awarded the honorary rank of gunnery sergeant.
Equipped with this real-life experience, Ermey often portrayed military and law-enforcement figures, including the voice of Sarge, the leader of the little green army men in the Toy Story movies; Sheriff Hoyt in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (2003), and a police captain in Se7en (1995).
On Ermey’s Facebook page, meanwhile, Rogin added more thoughts about the star.
This is what he wrote:
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 and women 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 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.
A bit more background:
Ermey studied criminology and drama at the University of Manila after his time in the military, starting his acting career as a Marine drill instructor in 1978’s The Boys in Company C.
Francis Ford Coppola then hired him for an uncredited role as a helicopter pilot in 1979’s Apocalypse Now.
On television,, Ermey had voice roles on The Simpsons (as Colonel Leslie Hapablap) and Family Guy.
Matthew Modine, his Full Metal Jacket co-star, actually quoted poet Dylan Thomas as he remembered Ermey on Twitter:
#SemperFidelis Always faithful. Always loyal. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And, in closing, even Donald Trump Jr. Tweeted a tribute upon learning of the actor’s death:
Well today we lost a legend and a great American. I am proud to have had R. Lee Ermey as a friend and shooting teammate.
If you thought he was motivating in Full Metal Jacket you should have seen him on the firing line when points mattered.
I’ll never forget those moments just not sure I can relay them fully here… just take my word for it LEGENDARY!!! (I wish I filmed his reaction to me bringing a pink gun to shoot in a match see pic 2.
He was having none of my “it takes a real man to shoot a pink gun” line. I made it just for that response and he did not disappoint.) They unfortunately don’t make many like him these days.
Thanks for your friendship sir.
May R. Lee Ermey rest in peace.