'Full Metal Jacket' actor R. Lee Ermey dies

April 16, 2018 - 7:03 am

LOS ANGELES (AP) - R. Lee Ermey, a former marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket," has died.

Ermey's longtime manager Bill Rogin says he died Sunday morning from pneumonia-related complications. He was 74.

The Kansas native was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his memorable performance in "Full Metal Jacket," immortalizing lines like "What is your major malfunction?" He also voiced the little green army man Sarge in the "Toy Story" films and played a helicopter pilot in "Apocalypse Now," among many other roles.

Ermey parodied his famous "Jacket" character several times, including a roll as a prison warden for the cartoon 'SpongeBob SquarePants." His authentic delivery came naturally to him -- he was a former United States Marine Corps drill instructor.

Ermey was born in Emporia and grew up on a farm outside Kansas City, Kansas. He said in multiple interviews that the Marines saved him from a life of aimlessness. After his second arrest, a judge gave the 17-year-old Ermey a choice between joining the military or being sentenced to jail. He spent 11 years in the Corps. 

Rogin says that while his characters were often hard and principled, the real Ermey was a family man and a kind and gentle soul who supported the men and women who serve.

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