R. Lee Ermey, the real life U.S. Marine Corps staff sergeant who made a significant impression on movie audiences for his portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's dark Vietnam War picture, Full Metal Jacket, died Sunday morning (April 15) from complications of pneumonia at 74.
The news was announced by Ermey's manager Bill Rogin via Ermey's official Twitter account. "Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed", he added, referencing the motto of the US Marines Corps, in which Ermey served from 1961 to 1971 when he was medically discharged. He spent a year and two months in Vietnam from 1968 and was released from active military duty due to medical reasons in 1972. He retired from the service after 11 years.
There he met Francis Ford Coppola who cast him as a helicopter pilot in 1979's Apocalypse Now.
His role in Full Metal Jacket earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
"And I love sunshine, I don't know about you". He later became a drill instructor in India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD San Diego, where he was assigned from 1965 to 1967.
D'Onofrio wrote: 'Ermey was the real deal.
It was Hartman's insatiable put-downs and insults - many of which Ermey ad-libbed himself - that stole the film and saw him revered in the film industry.
"He will be greatly missed by all of us", he wrote.
However, Kubrick gave him the part of the drill sergeant after seeing an instructional tape he'd put together, in which he lambasted a host of movie extras. He was also a voice actor who contributed the soldier's voice in the Toy Story movies, and in video games and numerous TV commercials. He appeared in more than 55 films, including Roughnecks, X-men 3, Se7en, Mississippi Burning and a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
In a post on Facebook - since made inaccessible - his manager Bill Rogin said: "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". He is survived by his wife Marianila, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.