For over 30 years, when there was a need for a Marine Corps drill instructor character Hollywood turned to R. Lee Ermey. The Golden Globe nominated actor passed away at the age of 74 according to his manager Bill Rogin.
Born Ronald Lee Ermey in Emporia, Kansas in 1944, the man who became the quintessential hard-ass was a bit of a troublemaker, getting arrested twice before turning 18 and given the choice of jail or the military. Ermey was a Marine Corps drill instructor stationed in San Diego during the mid 60s, served 14 months in Vietnam and later was a staff sergeant in Okinawa before being medically discharged in 1972. He would later receive an honorary promotion to gunnery sergeant by the Marines.
He served as a technical advisor on Apocalypse Now and got to play a chopper pilot in the film. That lead to playing a Marine drill instructor in The Boys in Company C and then he landed the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Director Stanley Kurbick was so impressed by Ermey that he allowed the former Marine to make up his dialogue on set. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor.
He went on to appear in 55 films including Mississippi Burning, Prefontaine, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, X-Men 3, Roughnecks and Se7en. He was also made regular appearances on television on everything from the X-Files, Human Target and the Adventures of Brisco County Jr. to voice work that include Toy Story and Wildcat on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Ermey was also a host of three different television series including Mail Call, answering military questions and Lock N’ Load, focusing on guns for the History Channel and Gunny Time for the Outdoor Channel.