“Full Metal Jacket” actor R. Lee Ermey dies at 74

  • Actor R. Lee Ermey died of complications from pneumonia on Sunday
  • He is known for playing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket”
  • He was attending college in the Philippines when he was cast in his first film “Apocalypse Now”

Lee Ermey, the actor who portrayed the sadistic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the iconic war film “Full Metal Jacket”, has died on Sunday morning. He was 74 years old.

He died of complications pneumonia, according to his manager Bill Rogin’s statement of Twitter.

Ermey is perhaps best remembered as G/Sgt. Hartman who tormented the characters of Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 masterpiece for which he won a Best Supporting Actor award from Golden Globe.

The two veteran actors posted their tributes to Ermey on Twitter.

“#SemperFidelis Always faithful. Always loyal. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. RIP amigo. PVT. Joker,” wrote Modine who played the character Private Joker.

“Ermey was the real deal. The knowledge of him passing brings back wonderful memories of our time together. @RLeeErmey @StanleyKubrick @FMJDiary @MatthewModine @AdamBaldwin,” whose character, Private Gomer Pyle, ended up shooting Hartman.

Ermey himself was a former staff sergeant with the United States Marine Corps, where he served as a drill instructor and became an honorary gunnery sergeant.

Throughout his film career, Ermey mostly played the role of a senior military official, a police officer or a person of authority such as Mayor Tillman in “Mississippi Burning”, General Kramer in “Toy Soldiers”, a police captain in “Seven”, and the twisted Sheriff Hoyt in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, among others.

He was attending college in the Philippines at University of Manila when he was cast in his first film “Apocalypse Now” as an Eagle Thrust Seven helicopter pilot wherein he was also the technical advisor on the film to director Francis Ford Coppola.

Ermey was born in Emporia, Kansas where he grew up with five brothers in a farm.  He married his wife, Nila, in 1975 and with whom he had four children.

Here’s remembering Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: