Kirsters Baish| It was announced by R. Lee Ermey’s longtime manager via the actor’s official Twitter account that the Golden Globe nominee had passed away early on Sunday morning. Ermey is best known for his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the movie, Full Metal Jacket.
The actor, who carried the nickname “The Gunny,” passed away on Sunday morning after suffering complications following a bout of pneumonia. He was 74 years old.
Bill Rogin, Ermey’s longtime manager, released the news via Ermey’s official Twitter account. Rogin wrote, “It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us. Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”
Statement from R. Lee Ermey's long time manager, Bill Rogin:
It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey ("The Gunny") passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us.
Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed. pic.twitter.com/vf4O78JKmb
— R. Lee Ermey (@RLeeErmey) April 15, 2018
Rogin spoke a little more about the late actor and his longtime client on Ermey’s official Facebook page:
“He will be greatly missed by all of us,” he wrote. “It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for. He has meant so much to so many people. And, it is extremely difficult 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 has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman of Full Metal Jacket fame was a hard and principled man. The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared deeply for others in need.”
Rogin also wrote, “There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all.”
Ermey played a military man in the movies, but many people are unaware that he was a member of the military in real life as well. He was a United States Marine Corps staff sergeant as well as an honorary gunnery sergeant. The actor also served time as a drill director for the United States Marines. He spent 14 months serving in Vietnam as well as two tours in Okinawa, Japan.
Both March 24, 1944, in Emporia, Kansas, Ermey’s family moved to Toppenish, Washington, when he was 14. There, he became a “troublemaker and a bit of a hell-raiser,” he told the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s online magazine in September 2010, and he found himself in court multiple times.
“Basically, a silver-haired judge, a kindly old judge, looked down at me and said, ‘This is the second time I’ve seen you up here and it looks like we’re going to have to do something about this,” he told CMP. “He gave me a choice. He said I could either go into the military — any branch I wanted to go to — or he was going to send me where the sun never shines. And I love sunshine, I don’t know about you.”
Ermey retired from the military after 11 years of dutiful service to our country. He decided to take some acting classes and was then cast in one of his very first roles. He played a helicopter pilot in the 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now. It wasn’t until 1987, when Ermey was cast in Full Metal Jacket that his full potential as an actor was realized. He was even nominated for a Golden Globe.
One of his most memorable lines in the movie was, “What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?” Another famous line was, “I want that head so sanitary and squared away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in there and take a dump.”
Our condolences go out to Ermey’s friends and family at this time.