R. Lee Ermey

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R. Lee Ermey

Ermey in November 2006 in Okinawa, Japan
BornRonald Lee Ermey
(1944-03-24) March 24, 1944 (age 68)
Emporia, Kansas, United States
Occupation Actor, former drill instructor, voice actor
Years active 1978-present
Spouse(s) Nila Ermey (1975-present)
Children 4
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R. Lee Ermey

Ermey in November 2006 in Okinawa, Japan
BornRonald Lee Ermey
(1944-03-24) March 24, 1944 (age 68)
Emporia, Kansas, United States
Occupation Actor, former drill instructor, voice actor
Years active 1978-present
Spouse(s) Nila Ermey (1975-present)
Children 4

Ronald Lee Ermey (born March 24, 1944) is a retired United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant (honorary), Drill Instructor, TV show host, and actor.

Ermey has often been typecast for the roles of authority figures, such as his breakout performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, Mayor Tilman in the Alan Parker film Mississippi Burning, Bill Bowerman in Prefontaine, Sheriff Hoyt in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and plastic army men leader Sarge in the Toy Story films.

He has hosted two programs on the History Channel: Mail Call, in which he answered viewers' questions about various militaria both modern and historic; and Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey, which focused on the development of different types of weapons.


Early life and military career

Ronald Lee Ermey
Nickname "The Gunny"
Born (1944-03-24) March 24, 1944 (age 68)
Emporia, Kansas
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUSMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1961–1972
RankUSMC-E7.svg Gunnery Sergeant (Honorary)
UnitMCRD San Diego
Marine Wing Support Group 17
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsMeritorious Unit Commendation
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Other work Actor

Born in Emporia, Kansas, Ermey enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1961. Ermey was a drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and Parris Island, South Carolina from 1965 to 1967. In 1968, Ermey arrived in Vietnam where he served for 14 months with the Marine Wing Support Group 17. He then served two tours of duty in Okinawa, Japan, during which he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6) and was medically discharged in 1972 for several injuries incurred during his tours.[1]

Acting career


Ermey was cast in his first film while attending the University of Manila in the Philippines, using his G.I. Bill benefits. He first played a Marine drill instructor (SSgt Loyce) in the 1978 Vietnam-era film The Boys in Company "C", which brought Ermey to the attention of Stanley Kubrick in later years. Ermey then played an Air Cavalry Officer in Apocalypse Now,[2] doubling as a technical advisor to director Francis Ford Coppola. He also served as Louis Gossett's technical advisor for the film An Officer and a Gentleman. For the next few years, Ermey played a series of minor film roles until 1987,[citation needed] when he was cast as tough drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.[2] Initially he was intended to be only the technical advisor.[2] Kubrick changed his mind after Ermey put together an instructional tape, in which Ermey went on an extended hair-raising drill instructor tirade towards several extras, convincing Kubrick he was the right person for the role.[2] Seeking absolute military authenticity for the film, Kubrick allowed Ermey to write or edit his own dialogue and improvise on the set, a noted rarity in a Kubrick film. Kubrick later indicated that Ermey was an excellent performer, often needing just two or three takes per scene, also unusual for a Kubrick film.[3] Ermey's performance won critical raves and he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor. He later played a tough drill instructor in the pilot episode of Space: Above and Beyond and ghost of a drill instructor in the film The Frighteners, both similar to his character in Full Metal Jacket.

He has since appeared in approximately sixty films, including Mississippi Burning, The Siege of Firebase Gloria, Dead Man Walking, Se7en, Fletch Lives, Leaving Las Vegas, Prefontaine, Saving Silverman, On Deadly Ground, Sommersby Life, Man of the House, Toy Soldiers, The Salton Sea, as well as the remakes of Willard and as an evil sadist in the two The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Ermey also lent his voice to The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3, as well as Roughnecks and X-Men 3. He usually appears in a commanding military role, for shows such as Kim Possible, The Simpsons, Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Miami Vice, House, Scrubs, My Life as a Teenage Robot and Invader Zim, in addition to hosting the documentary series Mail Call and Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey.

Ermey loading ammo for the Bofors 40 mm gun aboard an Lockheed AC-130H "Spectre" Gunship in 2006

Television work

On Mail Call, Ermey discussed weaponry, tactical matters, and military history. Mail Call's subject matter was dictated by viewer emails; one episode may have focused on an M1A1 Battle Tank, while another may have involved World War II secrets, while a third might have been focused on elements of Medieval warfare. The set consisted of a military tent, other military gear and weapons, and Ermey's personal jeep armed with his own 30 cal. M1919 Browning machine gun.

Ermey traveled to Kuwait in June 2003 during the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom to film mail distribution by the Defense Department to service personnel for an episode of Mail Call. According to a 2005 episode of Mail Call filmed at Whiteman Air Force Base, he is the 341st person to fly in the B-2 Stealth Bomber.

Ermey guest-starred in the episode "Second Chance" of Human Target.

Ermey also made guest appearances on the hit TV drama House, playing the role of Dr. Gregory House's father, who was a decorated Naval Aviator of the USMC ("Birthmarks", "Daddy's Boy"), and the sitcom Scrubs, playing the Janitor's father. He has also voiced Wildcat in several episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", Ermey voiced Colonel Leslie "Hap" Hapablap.

In the episode of SpongeBob SquarePants,"Inmates of Summer", he voiced an irate warden of a maximum security island prison who demoralized the inmates whenever he could.

In the episode of The Angry Beavers, "Fancy Prance", he voiced the Lipizzaner Stallions' instructor, Drill Sergeant Goonther.

In 2009, Ermey hosted a second History Channel show entitled Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey, which discussed the developmental history of various weapons used by militaries of today.

In late 2010, Ermey starred in a GEICO commercial as a former-drill-sergeant-turned-therapist who insults a client, in parody of some of his iconic characters.[2] Ermey also was featured each week on ESPN's College GameDay. His role was to insult the experts' incorrect picks from the previous week.

Also in 2010, Ermey guest-starred as a violent sexual offender recently released from prison in the episode "Trophy" on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

In 2011, Ermey starred as a drill instructor on the X-Play special on Bulletstorm.

Video games

In 1993, R. Lee Ermey played a character named Lyle The Handyman in the full-motion video game Sega CD game Double Switch, a game also starring Corey Haim and Deborah Harry.

Ermey lends his distinctive voice to several video games, including Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (as General Barnaky) and Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (as Wa-Wa). He also made a cameo in Real War: Air, Land, Sea, a retail real-time strategy computer game based on the official Joint Chiefs of Staff training game. In the game Fallout 3, there is a recruitable companion named Sergeant RL-3, a modified military robot with a personality very similar to Ermey (the companion's name is a reference to Ermey's initials wherein the 3 is leetspeak for the letter 'e'). In the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion there is a character named "Lieutenant Emry" that speaks some of Ermey's signature lines from Full Metal Jacket. He will also be doing the voice of General Charles Lee in the upcoming Assassin's Creed installment called "Assassin's Creed III".

In Star Trek: Armada II published by Activision in 2001. Featured the Iwo Jima-class starship. The Iwo Jima-class is a marine carrying class of ships named for the Battle of Iwo Jima. One of these ships is named the R.L. Ermey

Personal life

Ermey married his wife Nila in 1975. They have four children. In Ermey's television show Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey, he refers to his wife as "Mrs. Gunny."

Military appearances

On May 17, 2002, he received an honorary post-service promotion to Gunnery Sergeant (E-7) from the Commandant of the Marine Corps General James L. Jones in recognition of his continuing support to Americans in military service, a rank consistent with Ermey's character as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.

He has also conducted morale tours visiting United States troops in locations such as Al Kut, Iraq, and Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in which he filmed parts for his television show Mail Call. While at Bagram Airfield he held a USO type show in which he portrayed GySgt Hartman and conducted a comedy routine. He also did the same at Doha, Qatar and Camp Doha, Kuwait City, Kuwait, in 2003.


Ermey is an official spokesman for Black Book, Glock firearms, Tru-Spec apparel, Tupperware, Victory Motorcycles, Hoover, SOG Specialty Knives, and the Young Marines, and has also appeared in commercials for Coors Light, Dick's Sporting Goods, GEICO and pistachio nuts. He can also be seen giving a service announcement for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, demanding that viewers be quiet during the film.[4] He is a board member for the National Rifle Association.[5]

Military honors

Gold star
Gold star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Ribbon
Gold star
Meritorious Unit CommendationGood Conduct MedalNational Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary MedalVietnam Service MedalDrill Instructor Ribbon
Vietnam Gallantry CrossVietnam Presidential Unit CitationVietnam Campaign Medal
Rifle Expert BadgePistol Sharpshooter Badge

After retirement, R. Lee Ermey was also retroactively awarded the Drill Instructor Ribbon due to his prior service as a Marine Corps Recruit Training Instructor as well as the Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation for unit activities during the Vietnam War.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1978The Boys in Company "C"Staff Sergeant Loyce (Drill Instructor, Co. 163)
1979Apocalypse NowEagle Thrust Seven helicopter pilot uncredited
1984Purple HeartsGunny
1987Full Metal JacketGunnery Sergeant Hartman One of the rare performances Stanley Kubrick ever allowed to be improvised
Miami ViceDetective Sergeant Ernest Haskell guest star
"Rising Sun of Death"
Episode 9, Season 4
TV series
1988Mississippi BurningMayor Tilman
1989The Siege of Firebase GloriaSergeant Major Bill Hafner/Narrator Uncredited screenwriter
Fletch LivesJimmy Lee Farnsworth
DemonstoneColonel Joe Haines
1990The TakeWeller television film
I'm Dangerous TonightLieutenant Ackman television film
83 Hours 'Til DawnGlen Fairling television film
The Terror Within IIVon Demming
The Rift aka Endless DescentCaptain Phillips
1991Toy SoldiersGeneral Kramer
True IdentityHouston's Boss uncredited
1993HexedDetective Ferguson
SommersbyDick Mead
Body SnatchersGeneral Platt
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Marshal Brisco County Senior
Double Switch (Video Game) Lyle (the handyman) Credited as R. Lee Emrey in the Sega CD version
1994French SilkChief Crowder television film
On Deadly GroundStone
Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd StoryMr. Byrd uncredited; television film
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final InsultMess Hall Guard uncredited
Chain of CommandBenjamin Brewster
SavateBenedict uncredited
Love Is a GunFrank Deacon
1995Murder in the FirstJudge Clawson
Leaving Las VegasConventioneer
Se7enPolice Captain
The X-FilesReverend Findley episode "Revelations"
TV series
The SimpsonsColonel Leslie Hapablap voice only
episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming"
animated series
Toy StorySarge "Sergeant" voice only
animated film
Under the Hula MoonLt. Col. J. P. McIntire
Dead Man WalkingClyde Percy
Best of the Best 3: No Turning BackPreacher Brian uncredited
1996Space: Above and BeyondSergeant Major Bougus television film
The FrightenersThe late Master Sergeant Hiles
Soul of the GameWilkie television film
1997Dead Men Can't DanceSen. Pullman T. Fowler
The Angry BeaversSergeant Goonther voice only
episode "Fancy Prance/H2Whoa!"
animated series
Weapons of Mass DistractionBilly Paxton television film
Rough RidersSecretary of State John Hay
PrefontaineBill Bowerman
CrackerLieutenant Fry TV series
SwitchbackSheriff Buck Olmstead
The SenderColonel Rosewater
1999You Know My NameNix television film
LifeOlder Sheriff Pike
Megiddo: The Omega Code 2President Richard Benson
SpongeBob SquarePantsPrison Warden voice only
episode "The Inmates of Summer" and
"To Save a Squirrel"
Big Guy and Rusty the Boy RobotGeneral Thorton TV series
The Apartment ComplexFrank Stanton
Toy Story 2Sarge "Sergeant"voice only
animated film
2000The Chaos FactorCol. Ben Wilder
Skipped PartsCaspar Callahan
Roughnecks: STCSky Marshall Sanchez
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure BeginsSarge voice only
animated direct-to-video film
2001Saving SilvermanCoach Norton
Recess: School's OutColonel O'Malley voice only
animated film
Family GuyCoach voice only
episode "Mr. Saturday Knight"
animated series
Taking SidesGeneral Wallace
Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of SteelGeneral Barnaky voice only
video game
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of CortexWa-Wa the Water Elemental voice only
video game
On the BorderlineCaptain Elias
Real War: Air, Land, Seavoice only
video game
Real War: Rogue Statesvoice only
video game
2002Run Ronnie Run!Lead Kidnapper
The Salton SeaVerne Plummer
Invader ZimSergeant Hobo 678 voice only
animated series
History Channel's Mail CallGunny (Himself) TV series
Frank McKlusky, C.I.Jockey Master uncredited
A.K.A. BirdseyeSheriff Gathers
ScrubsJanitor's father guest star
episode "My Old Man"
TV series
"Fillmore!" Colonel Thrift guest star, voice only
episode "South of Friendship, North of Honor"
animated series
2003WillardFrank Martin
The Texas Chainsaw MassacreSheriff Hoyt
2004The Grim Adventures of Billy and MandyDrill Sergeant voice only
animated series
Father of the PrideSergeant Bunny voice only
animated series
episode "One Man's Meat Is Another Man's Girlfriend"
2005HouseJohn HouseAppeared in the episode "Daddy's Boy"
TV series
Man of the HouseCaptain Nichols
2006X-Men: The Last StandSergeant voice only
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The BeginningCharlie Hewitt/Sheriff Hoyt
2007SpongeBob SquarePantsUnnamed drill sergeant (the Inmates of Summer)voice only
2008Solstice Leonard
HouseJohn House Appeared in the episode "Birthmarks"
TV series
Eleventh Hour Bob Henson (Farmer) Appeared in the episode "Agro"
TV series
2009Batman: The Brave and the BoldWildcatanimated series
History Channel's Lock N' Load with R. Lee ErmeyGunny (Himself) TV series
2010Toy Story 3Sarge "Sergeant"voice only
animated film
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Walter Burlock Appeared in the episode "Trophy"
TV series
2011Family Guy Drill Sergeant with Alzheimers Disease Appeared in the Episode "Grumpy Old Man"
TV series
2012The Watch Grumpy rural neighbor Alien victim

Music samples

Samples of Ermey from Full Metal Jacket are used in several albums:

Other media

  1. ^ R. Lee Ermey's Bio
  2. ^ a b c d e Clark, Doug (August 31, 2010). "'Gunny' has a terrifying bark, but he won't bite". The Spokesman-Review. Archived from the original on April 24, 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/5yBgOLU2K. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Kubrick Site: The Rolling Stone Interview". Visual-memory.co.uk. http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0077.html. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  4. ^ Drafthouse PSAs
  5. ^ Echols, Tucker (2012-02-15). "NRA aims to 'Trigger the Vote' with voter registration drive". Washington Business Journal. 
  6. ^ Ministry stays on message

External links