Full Metal Jacket drill instructor dead

Actor R. Lee Ermey in a scene from Full Metal Jacket

New York: R. Lee Ermey, an actor whose barking, foulmouthed drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket highlighted a decades-long career in which he frequently portrayed authority figures, died on Sunday morning. He was 74.

His longtime manager, Bill Rogin, said Ermey had died from complications of pneumonia at a hospital in Santa Monica, California.

Ermey, who was nicknamed the Gunny, earned a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor with his performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick's 1987 film.

In a memorable opening monologue, Ermey's character berates fear-stricken military recruits, hurling an avalanche of verbal insults that are both inventive and demeaning. His eyes bulging and his jaw square, he renames one recruit "Private Snowball", knees another in the groin and chokes a third to stop him from smiling.

Later in the film, Ermey's character admonishes a recruit, asking rhetorically in a now famous line: "What is your major malfunction?"

Ermey, whose dozens of acting credits included film and television roles, was also well-known for playing Sheriff Hoyt in the 2003 horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He notably portrayed a police captain in the 1995 crime drama Se7en and was the voice of a green plastic solder named Sarge in the Toy Story franchise.

Ronald Lee Ermey was born on March 24, 1944, in Emporia, Kansas, and moved to Washington state at age 11. He enlisted in the Marines immediately after graduating from high school and intended to spend decades in the military.

Much of the torrent of vicious language he unleashed in Full Metal Jacket was recalled from his days in boot camp and his 30 months as a Marine Corps drill instructor during the Vietnam War.

The clever, if obscene, tirades were of his own invention, Ermey told The New York Times in 1987. "It was terrifying to those actors," he said of the invective he spewed. "My objective was intimidation."

New York Times News Service


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