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R. Lee Ermey, who famously played Sergeant 'Gunny' in 'Full Metal Jacket', dies at 74

R. Lee Ermey, who famously played Sergeant 'Gunny' in 'Full Metal Jacket', dies at 74

R. Lee Ermey, the gunnery sergeant turned actor who portrayed the scene-stealing drill instructor in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, died on Sunday.

Iconic actor R. Lee Ermey, better known to the world as the sadistic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket', died in the early hours of Sunday at age 74, according to his longtime manager, Bill Rogin, reported Fox News. Ermey was a former Marine Corps drill instructor who then turned into an actor. 

Rogin posted a statement on his Twitter about his death, citing reasons of his death related to complications from pneumonia.



Ermey enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 17 in 1961. The Kansas native served the country for 11 years, which also included 14 months in Vietnam before he was discharged in the year 1972. He then helped famed director Francis Ford Coppola with his 1979 Vietnam War epic, 'Apocalypse Now', as a technical adviser. He had a cameo of a helicopter pilot in the Brando-starrer classic.

But what shot him to fame came only eight years later, in Stanley Kubrick's own version of the Vietnam war. What first saw him in the shoes of a technical adviser yet again, turned into a full-fledged role after Kubrick saw a demo tape of his, railing at extras while tennis balls flew at him, and offered him the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.



In the movie, Ermey famously insulted his unfortunate charges in his role as a drill instructor breaking in new Marines at a boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina.

"Here you are all equally worthless," Ermey/Hartman says by way of introduction. "And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps. Do you maggots understand that?" 

Ermey's main target in the war story was the unfortunate, overweight Private Pyle, played by Vincent D'Onofrio. 

"Were you born a fat, slimy, scumbag puke piece of s---," Private Pyle, or did you have to work on it?" the gunnery sergeant asks in one scene.

However, Hartman is helpless when Private Pyle, whom he turns into a killing machine, guns him down the night after graduation from the boot camp when Hartman asks: "What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?"

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