The death of Adrian Cronauer…..
“They’re young guys in this horrendous heat, slogging through rice paddies with mosquitoes the size of Mack trucks, picking leeches off themselves, shooting and fighting and killing and being killed”
So said Adrian Cronauer, the Vietnam War DJ who inspired the character played by Robin Williams in the 1987 film Good Morning Vietnam. Those of you familiar with the film will recall Williams’ drawn out greeting of “Good Morning Vietnam” to his listeners which is a direct copy of how Cronauer would begin his broadcasts during the war. Croanuer presented his ‘Dawn Buster’ show between 1965 and 1966 and played rock and roll songs in a bid to bolster the mood of the soldiers with songs by The Beatles, The Righteous Brothers, The Rolling Stones and many other, purposely non military bands.
Virtually nothing else in the film resembles Cronauer’s own experiences in Vietnam but that didn’t bother him. He had seen Apocalypse Now and later told how it wasn’t ‘his Vietnam’. Along with his friend and Vietnam veteran Ben Mosses, he wrote a film script based on his own experiences from a comedy perspective which did not sit well with Hollywood producers who were afraid of portraying the war in a comedic fashion, despite the huge success of M*A*S*H from the Korean War. Eventually it ended up with Robin Williams’ agent who saw the potential for the actor to play a rogue DJ in a very loose adaptation of Cronauer’s experiences.
Williams and Cronauer never met until the film’s premier, he used the royalties he received to go through law school and was later awarded the Secretary of Defence Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Cronauer was a keen Republican and joined George HW Bush in 1992 in an advert which attacked the Democrat candidate Bill Clinton on his Vietnam draft.
Adrian Cronauer died aged seventy nine on July 18th 2018.