R. Lee Ermey, best known from his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. The actor began his acting career after retiring from a career as a United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and an honorary gunnery sergeant. His first role was playing a Marine drill instructor in Sidney Furie’s The Boys in Company C. He next played a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in 1979, for which he and also served as a technical adviser.
Ermey was nominated for a Golden Globe, and won a best supporting actor award from the Boston Society of Film Critics, for his role in Full Metal Jacket, and went on to star in films like Mississippi Burning, Prefontaine, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Fletch Lives, Frighteners and Se7en. He also had a successful television and voice over career, lending his voice to the Toy Story films, Spongebob SquarePants, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Family Guy and The Simpsons. Ermey also acted as host on the History Channel shows Mail Call and Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey, as well as the Outdoor Channel’s GunnyTime With R. Lee Ermey.
Below is a statement from R. Lee Ermey’s long time manager, Bill Rogin:
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 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 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.
R. Lee Ermey was 74.