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Obituaries

Death of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ star R. Lee Ermey, who delivered one of the filthiest monologues in film history

Ermey, 74, was a former US Marine who found fame with his epic tirades as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 9:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 10:53pm

US actor and retired Marine R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as foul-mouthed Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, has died. He was 74.

Manager Bill Rogin said the Golden Globe nominee Ermey died from complications of pneumonia.

“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 said.

“He will be greatly missed by all of us. Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed,” he wrote, referencing the motto of the United States Marines Corps, in which Ermey served from 1961 to 1971 when he was medically discharged.

WATCH: A censored portion of the opening tirade from Full Metal Jacket. Warning, may offend

Born in Emporia, Kansas in 1944, Ermey bagged his first acting role while studying drama at the University of Manila in the Philippines, landing a part as a helicopter pilot in Apocalypse Now (1979). He went on to appear in some 60 films, often in military-related roles.

But he was most famous for the epic rants delivered in Full Metal Jacket, including an opening monologue that is one of the most foul-mouthed tirades committed to film.

Much of the scene, in which Gunnery Sergeant Hartman abuses new recruits in a fashion that is by turns terrifying and hilarious, was supposedly improvised by Ermey, and unrehearsed.

“In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn’t know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don’t know, 150 pages of insults,” Kubrick said.

Ermey also lent his voice to the likes of the Toy Story films as the gung-ho plastic soldier Sarge, and The Simpsons.

A board member of the powerful National Rifle Association, Ermey also hosted weapons-related TV shows such as the History Channel’s Lock n’ Load with R. Lee Ermey and GunnyTime with R. Lee Ermey on the Outdoor Channel.

Additional reporting by Associated Press