R. Lee Ermey, 1944-2018

It is with tremendous sorrow to report the death of legendary actor and Marine, R. Lee Ermey.

R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine Corps drill instructor known to millions of moviegoers as the sadistic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” died Sunday morning, according to his longtime manager. He was 74. In a statement posted on Twitter, Bill Rogin said Ermey had died due to complications from pneumonia.

Entirely too soon. You never truly appreciate people until they’re gone.

A Kansas native, Ermey enlisted in the Marine Corps and age 17 and spent 14 months in Vietnam before he was discharged in 1972. He served as a technical adviser in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War epic, “Apocalypse Now,” in which he also had a small role as a helicopter pilot.

But Ermey didn’t get his big break until eight years later, in Kubrick’s own take on Vietnam. He was originally supposed to be a technical adviser, but Kubrick offered him the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman after seeing a demo tape of Emery railing at extras.

My favorite war movie of all time, primarily because of Ermey’s performance.

“Full Metal Jacket” earned Ermey a Golden Globe nomination, as well as a career playing authority figures — from Mayor Tilman in 1988’s “Mississippi Burning” to a toy soldier sergeant in the more family-friendly “Toy Story.”

An outspoken conservative, Ermey spoke to Fox News in 2016 about being “blackballed” from Hollywood over his political views.

Ermey had the temerity to criticize the previous president, and his Hollywood gigs dried up. His show on the History Channel, Mail Call, is excellent, however. The obligatory clip is below the fold…

NSFW for fabulous language.

Godspeed, Gunny. I can never thank you enough for the entertainment.

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12 thoughts on “R. Lee Ermey, 1944-2018

  1. Toothy – I can probably cite the entire film from memory. His scenes were outstanding, but I disagree with critics who say the film went downhill after basic training. Just an overall brilliant film.

    TXNick – Amen.

    Mike – A legend. Just last week I was watching Mail Call with Kevin, 10, and tonight he said this made him sad. He really liked the show, and Ermey in particular.

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  2. It made me so disgusted to hear that Hollywood had blackballed him over his political views. He was far too good a man for those idiots! RIP, Gunny.

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  3. saw Full Metal Jacket my first weekend home from Basic and AIT training…holy crap.. felt blessed he wasn’t my drill sergeant..RIP

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    1. My Marine kids told me that DI’s are no longer allowed to punch recruits. However accidentally running into a recruit with their fist out is another story all together.

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  4. MelP – “Mamby pamby land.” Perfect.

    Ronni – Can’t have Hollywood embrace someone who supports the NRA. I mean, you never see guns in film!

    INPiker – Yeah, he was… intense.

    William – Seconded!

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