Actor, United States Marine. His best known role was that of ‘Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’ in motion picture director Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam War film “Full Metal Jacket." Born in Emporia, Kansas, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1961 after being given the option of enlistment or jail due to a criminal mischief case when he was seventeen. He became a Marine Corps drill instructor, training recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California from 1965 to 1967. He was then assigned first to Okinawa, Japan, then to Vietnam as part of Marine Wing Support Group 17, serving a fourteen-month tour there. He was medically discharged from the Marine Corps in 1972 because of injuries he sustained while in service. In 1979 he received a bit part in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war film "Apocalypse Now," and also served as a technical advisor to Coppola. This led to his role as Marine Corp drill instructor 'Sergeant Loyce' in the war film "The Boys in Company C." Director Kubrick hired him as technical director for "Full Metal Jacket," then cast him as ‘Sergeant Hartman’ after Ermey submitted a fifteen-minute audition tape showing him yelling improvised insults without any repetition while being pelted in the face with tennis balls. His performance, one which he improvised close to fifty percent of his dialogue, became iconic, and he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. He would go on perform in various roles in over sixty films, such as "Mississippi Burning" (1988), "The Frighteners" (1996), and "Switchback" (1997). He voiced cartoon characters, with his most well-known being the voice of Sarge, the plastic toy Army Man in Pixar’s "Toy Story" franchise, and hosted the shows "Mail Call" and "Lock ‘N Load with R. Lee Ermey" on the History Channel. He passed away in Santa Monica, California at age seventy-four.
Bio by: RPD2
US MARINE CORPS