R. Lee Ermey — the foul-mouthed drill sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket” — died Sunday from complications of pneumonia.
He was 74.
“It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning,” his manager, Bill Rogers, announced in a statement.
“Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”
Ermey, a Kansas native, spent 11 years in the US Marine Corps as a staff sergeant and honorary gunnery sergeant before eventually gracing the silver screen in “Full Metal Jacket.”
Uttering infamous lines such as “What is your major malfunction numbnuts?” — and “Five-foot-nine, I didn’t know they stacked s–t that high!” — Ermey became one of the world’s most iconic drill instructors following the film’s 1987 release.
He had been hired as a technical adviser for the role of gunnery sergeant, but managed to impress director Stanley Kubrick with his suggested dialogue and work behind-the-scenes.
“They had already hired another actor to play Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, but Marines don’t just say ‘Oh’ and give up,” Ermey told DoD News in 2009. “We continue to march and we attack until we achieve our goal and we accomplish our mission.”
The Vietnam War vet convinced Kubrick to give him the role and was later able to earn a Supporting Actor nomination at the Golden Globes for his work.
“I read once that the only 2 actors Stanley Kubrick ever allowed to improvise dialogue were Peter Sellers & R. Lee Ermey and we are all the better for it,” tweeted John Fugelsang. “Thank you Gunny.”
Ermey had more than 60 film credits over the span of his acting career, including parts in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” “Mississippi Burning” and “Toy Story.”
But it was his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman that made him a household name with gun lovers and members of the military.
The legendary actor went on to host a number of television shows, including “Mail Call” and “Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey” — both of which aired on the History Channel.
He most recently hosted the Outdoor Channel program, “Gunny Time.”