His longtime manager, Bill Rogin, announced Ermey's death on the actor's Facebook page and said that Ermey was a "family man, a kind and gentle soul".
It was Ermey's military experience and persona that landed him dozens of authority-figure roles over a almost 40-year film and television acting career.
Nila Ermey was a fixture throughout his career. He will be greatly missed by all of us. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for one year until 1968, when he was moved to Vietnam and spent 14 months in country. He also served as a technical adviser to filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Ermey became the first retiree in the history of the Marines to be promoted. It was a truly iconic role from R. Lee Ermey, one that would launch a second career for him as a character actor, and today we say goodbye to him, as he has passed away at the age of 74.
Ermey was originally employed as a technical consultant for Full Metal Jacket but wanted the role of the gunnery sergeant and submitted an audition tape of him yelling out insults whole tennis balls flew at him. An impressed Kubrick gave him the role. Having been a D.I., he wrote his own material and received very little direction from Kubrick.More news: Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 keys to series vs. Rockets
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Ermey was often cast in military and police roles, but also voiced a series of authority figures in cartoons, ranging from Sarge in Toy Story and Colonel Leslie "Hap" Hapablap in The Simpsons to a prison warden in SpongeBob SquarePants. "In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys", he said. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor.
Ermey later drew on his military experience for his breakout role in Stanley Kubrick's 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, winning a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of a hardened drill instructor putting young marine corps recruits through basic training. He was also a voice actor who contributed the soldier's voice in the Toy Story movies, and in video games and numerous TV commercials.