R. Lee Ermey 1944 – 2018

April 16, 2018
Hollywood's own drill sergeant has passed.


Character actor R. Lee Ermey has passed away from complications arising from pneumonia at the age of 74. The former marine’s manager made the public announcement of his death via Twitter:

Ermey served in the United States Marine Corps from 1961 to 1972 before making his first film appearance as a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now. Yet it was another Vietnam War movie which would catapult Ermey to fame, and with which he is indelibly linked in the popular consciousness: Stanley Kubrick’s bleak 1987 drama, Full Metal Jacket.

In what is now the stuff of cinema legend, Ermey was hired as a technical adviser, only to be cast as the sadistic drill instructor Sergeant Hartman after Kubrick saw a demonstration video of Ermey unleashing a non-stop stream of invective while tennis balls were launched at his chest, never pausing or repeating himself.

Ermey’s Full Metal Jacket persona set the course of his career, and he all but replayed the role in a number of screen productions from Toy Story to The Frighteners to The Simpsons, as well as numerous commercials. Yet he also showed range in supporting roles in the likes of Seven, House, Willard, and The Salton Sea. His distinctive bark made him a popular voice over artist, and he can be heard in several video games, including Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, and animated series such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Family Guy, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.

Ermey also hosted two series for the History Channel’s Mail Call, in which he answered questions about military matters, and  Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey, which saw him look into the history and development of various weapons systems.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

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