GOOD morning VIETNAM
Veteran: Adrian Cronauer
Artist / Writer: Gayle Gleckler
Adrian Cronauer's voice first rang out at twelve at the Pittsburgh Children's Amateur Hour. And so it began.
At the University of Pittsburgh he founded the college radio station WPTS. He needed only eleven credit hours to graduate, when the draft pressed him. He picked the Air Force. Passed a battery of tests to fly, but the Air Force chose him for broadcast, where stateside he recorded mind-numbing training films.
Transferred to broadcast in Greece, he discovered his moxie, and added style to the pea-green military broad-casting universe.
With one year left to serve, Cronauer had another choice; South Korea or Vietnam? He chose Vietnam and arrived shortly before the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which changedthe whole scope of the American effort.
His voice rang out again in a Saigon based show, ”Dawn Busters”, which initiated a whole new style. More like stateside radio, with innovation, enthusiasm and humor, it allowed the troop’s imagination to rise. Cronauer gave the frightened isolated American soldiers some hope to wake up to every morning.
He pushed for reforms. The military forces tried to silence him, giving him resistance. They preferred uninspired broadcasts without incentive or motivation, that didn’t make waves. Cronauer gave an unusual perspective to the confused American public too and something to consider.
In Vietnam he did interviews with the troops in the field. One of the reactions he got from them was total frustration. They would be in hot pursuit of an enemy unit and have to disengage because they would cross over some invisible barrier or border. They’d be sitting there receiving incoming fire and not permitted to return fire or even load their weapons, without permission from headquarters.
His voice rang out again. With a Vietnam Vet, Ben Moses, he wrote a screenplay in 1979 and sold the rights to Hollywood in 1982.
"Good Morning Vietnam”, was directed by Barry Levinson, a real ADvet (Advertising Vet). He directed many award-winning commercials before he migrated to Hollywood. Casting Robin Williams in his breakout performance was so brilliant, the proof-most of Robin's radio broadcasts in the movie were improvised.
Levinson didn’t want Cronauer and Williams to meet before the production because Williams was so fantastic at impersonation, he wanted him to have his own take on the character. So the two never met until the film's premiere.
Williams won Best Actor at the Golden Globes and was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
Your Voice Has Been Heard.