His death was announced by longtime manager Bill Rogin, who tweeted Sunday evening that Ermey had succumbed to complications from pneumonia.
Rogin said the actor died on Sunday. "He will be greatly missed by all of us", the statement reads.
Ermey enlisted in the Corps in 1961 at the age of 17, providing support for Marine aviators before transitioning into a drill instructor role at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where he'd done his own recruit training. He has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever.
Ermey's first film appearance was as a drill instructor in Sidney J. Furie's 1978 Vietnam War film The Boys in Company C. He also had an uncredited role as a chopper pilot the following year in Apocalypse Now while serving on set as a technical advisor to director Francis Ford Coppola. They didn't know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted.
R. Lee Ermey Verified account @RLeeErmey
Ermey was originally meant to function only as a technical adviser to Kubrick, but when Kubrick was impressed by an instructional tape Ermey put together in which he went on long rants at extras, he instead cast him in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul.
Watch Ermey in the opening scene of Full Metal Jacket. He was generous to everyone around him.
The performance turned Ermey into a surprising star and he wound up appearing in more than 60 movies. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. That's what he wanted most of all. Some of his other films include Se7en, Dead Man Walking, Mississippi Burning, On Deadly Ground and the remakes of Willard and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Ermey also lent his voice as the plastic toy soldiers' leader in Toy Story.