Gunny R. Lee Ermey (USMC)
The photo above was taken with our good friend Gunny R. Lee Ermey at our annual TOYS for TOTS
Another of our favored organizations is GUITARS for VETS
. In appreciation for their sacrifice, Guitars for Vets provides our Disabled American Veterans with guitars and musical instruction in an effort to help heal our Vets wounds through music. We hope you will join us in supporting these efforts
Character actor R. Lee Ermey specializes in playing tough military men and authority figures on television and in feature films. In his case, it is an issue of art imitating life, for he served as a non-commissioned officer in Vietnam. Injuries sustanined in Vietnam forced R. Lee to retire from active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. In order to stretch his disability pay farther, R. Lee moved to the Philippines and while there he, studied criminology. Ermey broke into films while he was living in Manila. Every morning, he would stop in at a coffee shop at the city's Hilton hotel. The place was a popular hangout for Hollywood directors, one of whom noticed Ermey and asked him to pose for a series of ads for blue jeans. This experience led to his film debut, a role as a retired soldier in a local production. By 1976, R. Lee had appeared in several Filipino films and broke into Hollywood films that year when he visited the set for Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and got himself hired as a helicopter pilot. R. Lee's Vietnam experience came in handy and Coppola utilized him as a technical advisor. He made his acting debut in an American film in Sidney J. Furie's comedy-drama The Boys in Company C (1978). Ermey worked again with Furie as technical advisor and actor in Purple Hearts (1984). The former Marine got his biggest break in Stanley Kubrick's powerful Full Metal Jacket (1987). Ermey's profane, ruthless, and intense portrayal of Marine Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, who had the thankless, brutal job of toughening up raw recruits before sending them to Vietnam, dominated the film's first 45 minutes and provides an unforgettably realistic and disturbing portrait of military training. Since then, Ermey has worked steadily in films and as a television guest star.
(Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide)