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Parris Island's forays into American pop culture

President Reagan visited Parris Island in June 1986.
President Reagan visited Parris Island in June 1986. The Beaufort Gazette

From film to television to celebrity, here's a look at some of Parris Island's most famous forays into American pop culture:

One major malfunction: Parris Island plays home to about the first one-third of the 1987 movie "Full Metal Jacket" in what is perhaps its most well-known pop culture reference.

The 1987 movie is director Stanley Kubrick's gory and troubling account of a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training and experiences in Vietnam.

The platoon's recruit depot barracks are the backdrop to some of the most famous military scenes in movie history -- including R. Lee Ermy's memorable, expletive-ridden rants as a drill instructor and one recruit's violent mental breakdown after graduation.

It's a common misconception that Ermy once served as an actual drill instructor at Parris Island. He did spend 11 years in the Corps and two as a drill instructor, but he served at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, according to his biography.

Above: Actor Lee Ermey, portraying "Gunnery Sgt. Hartman," yells at new Marine recruits in this scene from the 1987 movie "Full Metal Jacket" directed by Stanley Kubrick. The Associated Press

No Rose Garden: One of the most popular and recognizable Marine Corps recruitment campaigns was born on Parris Island in 1968, featuring a photo of Sgt. Charles Taliano as the "Rose Garden DI"

Taliano was a drill instructor on Parris Island at the time, and the image captured him snarling just inches from the face of one of his recruits. A headline along with the photo read, "We don't promise you a rose garden," a reference to a hit 1970 country/pop song.

The photo was used in the Marine Corps' recruitment campaigns throughout the 70s and 80s, and it was featured in a 1973 TV commercial promoting recruitment amid flagging public support for the Vietnam War.

Taliano died in 2010, but the image remains one of the Marines' most iconic.

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Charles Taliano, former drill instructor, held a smaller version of the poster that made him the face of Marine Corps recruiting in this 2006 photo. Cpl. Jennifer Brofer Special to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette

Above: Charles Taliano, former drill instructor, held a smaller version of the poster that made him the face of Marine Corps recruiting in this 2006 photo. Cpl. Jennifer Brofer/US Marine Corps

 

Jack Webb: Long before Ermy, Jack Webb played the meanest drill instructor on Parris Island in the 1957 movie "The DI"

Webb directed, produced and starred in the black and white military drama that follows a drill instructor, played by Webb, pushing a struggling recruit with a long family history in the Marines to the point of desertion.

Popular Tunes: Billy Joel sang about Parris Island in the opening of his Vietnam War ballad "Goodnight Saigon." The 1982 song looks back on how recruits and soldiers bonded through their training and experiences in the war.

Country singer Trace Adkins also memorializes Parris Island in his 2011 song "Semper Fi," a tribute to Marines serving overseas in the Middle East.

Television: The recruit depot has made a few fleeting appearances on television.

In a 1996 episode of "JAG", the legal drama predecessor to the "NCIS" series, the team investigates the death of a woman recruit on Parris Island.

Parris Island is also the setting of several flashbacks in the recent post-apocalyptic show "Revolution," in which several characters were serving at the recruit depot before a worldwide electrical blackout.

The Sand Flea: The 1956 play "The Murder of a Sand Flea" is actually the basis for Webb's later movie, "The DI"

It aired on Kraft Television Theater that year and introduces main characters of the "The DI"

Its author, James Lee Barrett, was himself a Parris Island recruit in 1950. He went on to write famous screenplays "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "Smokey and the Bandit" and "The Green Berets."

Celebrities: Two presidents and a handful of celebrities have passed through Parris Island over the years.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt toured the base in April 1943, while American troops clashed with Nazi Germany in North Africa in World War II.

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first sitting president to visit Parris Island, in April 1943. File The Beaufort Gazette

Above: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first sitting president to visit Parris Island, in April 1943. File photo.

President Ronald Reagan visited in June 1986 and delivered a brief, 10-minute speech supporting the military and advocating for defense spending. "President brings much ado with visit to Lowcountry," screamed The Island Packet headline the next day, detailing the speech and crowd of about 200 reporters and news media who crushed into the base to see it.

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President Reagan visited Parris Island in June 1986. File The Beaufort Gazette

Above: President Reagan visited Parris Island in June 1986. File photo.

A number of celebrities also have trained at the depot, including reggae performer Shaggy as well as actors Drew Carey and Harvey Keitel.

 

 

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