'Full Metal Jacket' Star R. Lee Ermey Dies at 74

R. Lee Ermey dead at 72

R. Lee Ermey dead at 72

Golden Globe-nominated actor R. Lee Ermey has died according to a release from his longtime 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.

Born March 24th, 1944 in Emporia, Kansas, Ermey enlisted in the Marine Corp at the age of 17 and spent 14 months in Vietnam, and completed two tours in Okinawa, Japan before he was discharged in 1972. He served as a drill instructor for the Marines, while also serving as a U.S. Marine Corps staff sergeant and honorary gunnery sergeant. 

After retiring from the military, he was cast in his first role, playing a helicopter pilot in "Apocalypse Now," where he also doubled as a technical adviser to Francis Ford Coppola. 

His first big break came when he was cast as a drill instructor during Kubrick's take on Vietnam. Most recently, he hosted GunnyTime With R. Lee Ermey on the Outdoor Channel. 

Ermey was best known for his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the Vietnam epic, Full Metal Jacket for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. He was also the host of a program on the History Channel's Mail Call, in which he answered questions about the military, both modern and historic. He often played gruff characters, appearing in some sixty films, including; Purple HeartsMississippi BurningSe7enLeaving Las Vegas, and Saving Silverman. 

He was also a prolific voice actor, appearing in several animated films, including playing the lead of the green plastic Army soldiers in the Toy Story films, as well as a role in SpongeBob SquarePants, among others. 

Photo: Getty Images