Ermey, a retired U.S. Marine and an honorary gunnery sergeant, served as a drill instructor during his tenure in the U.S. Marine Corps. Beginning in 1968, he spent 14 months in Vietnam and then served another decade, based in Okinawa, Japan, as a staff sergeant.
Ronald Lee Ermey died Sunday morning of complications from pneumonia, according to his publicist.
Ermey's acting career accelerated dramatically after his casting as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket in 1987, which earned him Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The news was announced by Ermey's manager Bill Rogin via Ermey's official Twitter account.
His first film role occurred when he was studying in the Philippines, and he played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in Apocalypse Now, also serving as a technical adviser to Francis Ford Coppola.
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In addition to his role in "Full Metal Jacket", Ermey starred in movies such as "Dead Man Walking", "Seven", and "Prefontaine".
Kubrick allowed Ermey to improvise and write or edit his dialogue, and he said Ermey often only needed two or three takes to finish a scene - both unusual for Kubrick films. Ermey was originally hired as only a technical advisor on the film, but Kubrick was so impressed with Ermey he cast the Marine in the film, replacing actor Tim Colceri. When giving orders to clean the barracks latrine, Ermey's character said: "I want that head so sanitary and squared away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in there and take a dump".
"But Ermey's legacy extends far beyond his iconic roles".
Regarding his most famous role in "Full Metal Jacket", Ermey told the Spokesman Review that he did not really like that character, because "I'm basically a nice person". "My demeanor happens to be a bit more authoritative and film directors, producers want to capitalize on that. There are many like it, but this one is mine". And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness.
Mr. Ermey's other notable roles include turns in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Se7en", as well as the voice of Sarge, the leader of the plastic army men of "Toy Story". Please support your men and women in uniform.