R. Lee Ermey, who gained fame as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, has died at the age of 74.
What was R. Lee Ermey’s cause of death? According to a statement that his manager posted on Facebook, Ermey died from complications from pneumonia. Bill Rogin, the long-time manager for Ermey, also confirmed Ermey’s death in a Twitter post on the evening of April 15, 2018.
“It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us,” he wrote. “Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.” The tweet was pinned at the top of Ermey’s Twitter page, where his profile says, “What is your major malfunction numbnuts?”
Rogin also posted a statement about Ermey’s death on the actor’s Facebook page. He wrote:
It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us. It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for. He has meant so much to so many people. And, it is extremely difficult to truly quantify all of the great things this man has selflessly done for, and on behalf of, our many men and women in uniform. He has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman of Full Metal Jacket fame was a hard and principled man. The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared deeply for others in need.
There is a quote made famous in Full Metal Jacket. It’s actually the Riflemen’s Creed. “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”
There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all.
Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the drill sergeant persona came naturally to Ermey because he had really served in the military, for 11 years. In addition to his critically acclaimed performance in Full Metal Jacket, he had roles in Apocalypse Now and The Boys in Company C. He starred in a series of other movies over the years, including Mississippi Burning, Prefontaine, Fletch Lives, and a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.