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R. Lee Ermey has passed away

R Lee Ermey, a former marine who made a career in acting often playing military men such as Gunnery Sgt Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, has died.

Ermey’s manager, Bill Rogin, said he died on Sunday morning from pneumonia-related complications. He was 74.

In 1961, at age 17, Ermey enlisted in the United States Marine Corps For his first few years, he served in the aviation support field before becoming a drill instructor in India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. In 1968, he was ordered to Vietnam with MWSG-17, and spent 14 months in country. The remainder of his service was on Okinawa where he was advanced to staff sergeant (E-6). He was medically discharged in 1972 because of several injuries incurred during his service.

Ermey was cast in his first film while attending the University of Manila in the Philippines. He played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in Apocalypse Now, doubling as a technical advisor to Francis Ford Coppola. Ermey then was cast as a Marine drill instructor in Sidney Furie’s The Boys In Company C. For the next few years, Ermey played a series of minor film roles until 1987, when he was cast in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Seeking authenticity for the film, Kubrick allowed Ermey to write or edit his own dialogue and improvise on the set. Kubrick later indicated that Ermey was an excellent performer, often needing just two or three takes per scene.

He also starred in many other films such as Purple Hearts, Mississippi Burning, The Siege of Firebase Gloria, Dead Man Walking, Se7en, Fletch Lives, Leaving Las Vegas, Prefontaine, Saving Silverman, On Deadly Ground, The Frightners, Sommersby, Life, Man of the House, Toy Soldiers, The Salton Sea, Willard, and in two The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films.

Ermey also lent his voice to The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3 and many more animated shows.

His co-stars Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio tweeted their condolences.

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