Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel Star R. Lee Ermey Dies at 74
Longtime Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel television show host and acclaimed actor R. Lee Ermey – known to millions as Gunny – passed away on Sunday, April 15, 2018, at the age of 74 from complications of pneumonia
R. Lee Ermey, the host of "GunnyTime with R. Lee Ermey" on Outdoor Channel and "Saving Private K-9" on Sportsman Channel has passed away at 74.
R. Lee Ermey, known to countless Outdoor Sportsman Group viewers as the host of GunnyTime on Outdoor Channel and Saving Private K-9 on Sportsman Channel, died from complications of pneumonia early on Sunday, April 15, 2018. He was 74.
Ermey’s Twitter account @RLeeErmey tweeted the news of his passing to the world: “Statement from R. Lee Ermey’s longtime manager, Bill Rogin: 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.”
Ermey, known to millions simply as Gunny, was born in Emporia, Kan., on March 24, 1944. After enrolling in the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17, Ermey served 11 years active duty, rising to the rank of staff NCO. He also would reportedly serve two years as a drill instructor and have a 14-month tour of duty in Vietnam.
Medically retired in 1971, Ermey reportedly used his G.I. Bill benefits to enroll at the University of Manila in the Philippines where he studied drama. While in school, Francis Ford Coppola filmed the movie Apocalypse Now in the region, casting Ermey in a role as a helicopter pilot along with giving him a role as a technical advisor. He would go on to play a drill sergeant in the film The Boys in Company C as well.
But it was his role as the tyrannical Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket that would boost him to early fame, garnering Ermey a nomination for Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor as well as the Boston Society of Film Critics Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor.
That role would help springboard Ermey to a successful acting career that included major roles in approximately 60 films according to reports. Typically cast in authoritarian figure roles, Ermey played such characters as Mayor Tilman in Mississippi Burning, Sheriff Hoyt in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre redo, and Jimmy Lee Farnsworth in Fletch Lives. Other film roles found Ermey in Prefontaine, opposite of Jared Leto, and in Switchback, where he starred opposite of Dennis Quaid and Danny Glover.
He would star in numerous made for television films as well, roles that reportedly include HBO’s Weapons of Mass Distraction, TNT’s The Rough Riders, TNT’s You Know My Name, and Showtime’s The Apartment Complex among others.
Ermey’s roles would even include children’s films and TV programs, finding Gunny lending his voice to The Simpsons, Family Guy, the Toy Story movie franchise as the voice of plastic army man leader Sarge, and the voice of the warden in SpongeBob SquarePants.
A veteran of television, Ermey appeared on and hosted numerous programs, including the hosting of the previously mentioned programs on Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel along with two History Channel programs, Mail Call and Lock ‘n Load with R. Lee Ermey.
Ermey also reportedly served as a spokesperson for GLOCK, Victory Motorcycles, SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, Rugged Ridge and Tru Spec Apparel. Previously, he represented other products such as Coors, Nissan, Advanced Auto Parts, Wonderful Pistachios, Cub Cadet Commercial, Medeco, Fritos, GEICO, Black Book Online, WD-40 and as the face of the Armed Forces Bowl college football game on ESPN.
A former board member for the National Rifle Association, Ermey also had a reported longtime role as a spokesperson for the Young Marines Youth Organization, as well as making numerous appearances on behalf of law enforcement and U.S. military troops. He also authored a book, Gunny’s Rules: How to Get Squared Away Like a Marine.
Ermey is survived by his wife of 42 years, Nila Ermey, and four children.
As of this writing, no details have been announced concerning a funeral and/or memorial service for Ermey.
Stay tuned for more details on the passing of R. Lee Ermey as they become available.