Remembering Adrian Cronauer

With the death of Adrian Cronauer at 79, America has lost a great patriot and we at the American Veterans Center have lost a friend.

Adrian of course is indelibly associated with the movie “Good Morning Vietnam,” which is loosely based on his story as an Air Force disc jockey based in Saigon during The Vietnam War – a role played unforgettably by Robin Williams.

Asked by everyone, including me, how true- to-life the film was, Adrian always said, “It’s a movie. It’s not me,” adding “If I did half the things my character did in that movie. I’d still be in Leavenworth.”

The idea for the film was his, however, as was the original script and script rights, and as the movie became a comedy classic in endless re-runs on cable television, Adrian profited from a steady stream of residuals.

As he often said of “Good Morning Vietnam, This movie been berry berry good to me.”

I met Adrian in the mid1990s. He was a practicing attorney then and I retained him to represent the AVC’s sister organization Radio America. He did so ably for the next six years but did far more pro bono work for us than work he got paid for.

He was a terrific radio talent with a deep bass voice and he recorded a host of program “Liners” and intros as well as commercials for us. He was also an outstanding master of ceremonies and was MC for numerous events for Radio America and the American Veterans Center. He was also along with Blanquita Cullum, the co-announcer for the first several National Memorial Day parades after the AVC revived the parade in 2005.

Adrian also loved music and he loved to sing. I thought of that one Easter season back in the 1990s when I was singing in the choir of St. Francis Episcopal Church. The choirmaster said it looked like we would be short a bass for Holy Week and Easter. On a whim I mentioned this to Adrian and asked him whether he would be willing to fill in.

He accepted enthusiastically and attended two rehearsals and sang at four services including two on Easter morning.

Adrian loved the singing but, being the gourmand he was he loved the breakfast prepared by the ladies of the choir between the early and late Easter mornings services even more. He especially liked the mimosas served – a phenomenon he never got over and which he mentioned for years thereafter.

The next year, we had ample bass forces in the choir so I didn’t ask Adrian to sing, not wanting to impose. After Easter he called and said he felt hurt that I hadn’t asked him to sing. I said to consider it a standing invitation in the future and for several years afterwards Adrian was a standard part of the St. Francis Choir at Easter.

Adrian and I had many conversations over lunch over the years and we became friends and colleagues on many joint projects.

He spoke at a number of our AVC annual conference and was always a favorite with those attending. He will always be a favorite of mine too.

RIP Adrian Cronauer

A link to a clip from Adrian’s presentation at the AVC conference in 2007 is here.