'Full Metal Jacket' star R. Lee Ermey passes away at the age of 74

'Full Metal Jacket' star R. Lee Ermey passes away at the age of 74 (Photo: SBG)

WASHINGTON (Circa) – Actor R. Lee Ermey has passed away at the age of 74 after battling pneumonia. His manager Bill Rogin made the announcement on the actor's Facebook and Twitter pages.

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. 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.
There is a quote made famous in Full Metal Jacket. It's actually the Riflemen's Creed. "This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine."
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.
Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.

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.

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.

Ermey, who was well known for his acting roles as characters in the U.S. military, served in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. The actor rose to Staff Sargeant and was given honorary rank by the Marine Corps as Gunnery Sergeant, according to IMDb.

"The Gunny" served in Vietnam and Japan, committing to 14 months during the Vietnam War. Most recently, he was a voice actor in the videogame "Disney Magic Kingdown" in 2016 as well as "The Simpsons" in 2015. IMDb says he has over 120 credits as an actor of some capacity.

The Hollywood Reporter says Ermey took acting classes in order to learn his craft. After taking the courses, he starred as a pilot in the 1979 movie "Apocalypse Now" before landing the 1987 well-known movie "Full Metal Jacket." He was originally brought on to advise the eventual actor on the movie but was given the role himself because of his performance.

“I'd say fifty percent of Lee's dialogue, specifically the insult stuff, came from Lee. You see, in the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys,” director Stanley Kubrick said in a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone. “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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.