Born March 24, 1944, in Emporia, Kansas, Ermey was a drill instructor in the Marines and also a staff sergeant. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for one year until 1968, when he was moved to Vietnam and spent 14 months in country.
Ermey's manager revealed that the actor died Sunday (April 15) after complications from pneumonia.
Ermey effectively reprised his Full Metal Jacket role in Sir Peter Jackson's 1996 film, The Frighteners, in which he played the ghost of a military drill instructor.
"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", his manager, Bill Rogin, posted on Facebook. He had a series of other small roles until his casting in 1987's Full Metal Jacket.
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Kubrick allowed Ermey to improvise and write or edit his dialogue, and he said Ermey often only needed two or three takes to finish a scene - both unusual for Kubrick films.
The performance turned Ermey into a surprising star and he wound up appearing in more than 60 movies. Ermey enjoyed a long and productive career portraying military and law enforcement roles.
"I always felt I was suited for the role of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman", Ermey told the Sun-Times when the film was released.
R. Lee Ermey will be missed, and forever remembered for his contributions to the artform. "My demeanor happens to be a bit more authoritative and film directors, producers want to capitalize on that".
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"He has meant so much to so many people and it is extremely hard 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".
Although Ermey identified himself as a political independent, many of his views aligned closely with the Republican party. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness.
In a four-decade acting profession, he played with a helicopter pilot "Apocalypse Today", depicted authoritarian characters like may or Tillman in "Mississippi Burning" and did voiceovers for characters such as the green plastic soldier "Sarge" in "Toy Story". Please support your men and women in uniform.
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