R. Lee Ermey, Voice Of Sarge From Toy Story, Dies Aged 74

Actor R. Lee Ermey arrives at the premiere of New Line's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on October 5, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.Getty

R. Lee Ermey has sadly died aged 74 after suffering complications from pneumonia, his manager has confirmed.

The US marine-turned-actor was best known for his portrayal of military men, and won the hearts and minds of a nation for his role as Gunnery Sergeant ‘The Gunny’ Hartman in Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket (1987).

You can read the statement below:

Bill Rogin, R. Lee Ermey’s long time manager said:

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.

Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.

Born in 1944 in Kansas, Ermey was a staff sergeant in the marine corps in the 1960s and early 1970s, serving tours in Japan and Vietnam.

He also served as a real-life 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.

One popular story about Ermey is he was initially hired as a technical advisor, but Kubrick was so impressed with his demonstration of a drill instructor’s role, he was offered the part.

Some of you might remember Ermey for his foul-mouthed portrayal of ‘The Gunny’. You’d certainly recognise him after his character was given the GIF treatment.


But one of his lesser known roles, which also saw him lend his voice to the character of a military man, of sorts, was in the beloved children’s film Toy Story.

Ermey was charged with the voiceover of Sarge, the disciplined toy soldier and leader of the Green Army Men, who went on a recon mission to spy on Andy’s birthday presents so the other toys could be prepared for any new arrivals.

It’s no Vietnam, but Ermey certainly played a huge part in many of our childhoods growing up.

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 25: Actor and retired Marine, R. Lee Ermey, speaks at a news conference to announce legislation that would give the Marines equal status as the Navy, Feb. 25, 2010. The legislation would change the name of the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)Getty

In a 2010 interview with the Civilian Marksmanship Programme magazine, Ermey recalled being a ‘troublemaker and a bit of a hell-raiser’ in his youth.

He explained he eventually ended up in court, adding:

Basically a silver-haired judge… gave me a choice. He said I could either go into the military – any branch I wanted to go to – or he was going to send me where the sun never shines.

And I love sunshine, I don’t know about you.


In a post on Facebook – since made inaccessible – his manager Bill Rogin said:

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.

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.

Ermey was also a board member of powerful US gun lobby group the National Rifle Association (NRA).

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