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Airman who inspired Vietnam film, dies

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In this October 1987, file photo, Adrian Cronauer, a disc jockey on the Saigon-based Dawn Buster radio show from 1965-1966 whose experiences in the Vietnam War were chronicled in the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam," poses outside his home in Philadelphia, Pa. Cronauer died Wednesday, July 18, 2018. He was 79. Cronauer opened his Armed Forces Radio show with “Goooooood morning, Vietnam!” (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Adrian Cronauer, the man whose military radio antics inspired a character played by Robin Williams in the film Good Morning, Vietnam, has died. He was 79.

Mary Muse, the wife of his stepson Michael Muse, said that Cronauer died on Wednesday from an age-related illness. He had lived in Troutville, Virginia, and died at a local nursing home, she said.

During his service as a US Air Force sergeant in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966, Cronauer opened his Armed Forces Radio show with the phrase, "Goooooood morning, Vietnam!"

Williams made the refrain famous in the 1987 film, loosely based on Cronauer's time in Saigon.

The film was a departure from other Vietnam war movies that focused on bloody realism, such as the Academy Award-winning Platoon.

Instead, it was about irreverent youth in the 1960s fighting the military establishment.

"We were the only game in town, and you had to play by our rules," Cronauer told The Associated Press in 1987. "But I wanted to serve the listeners."

In the film, Williams quickly drops Perry Como and Lawrence Welk from his 6am playlist in favour of the Dave Clark Five.

Cronauer said he loved the movie but much of it was Hollywood make-believe.

Robin Williams' portrayal as a fast- talking, nonconformist, yuk-it-up disc jockey sometimes gave people the wrong impression of the man who inspired the film.

"Yes, I did try to make it sound more like a stateside station," he told The AP in 1989. "Yes, I did have problems with news censorship. Yes, I was in a restaurant shortly before the Viet Cong hit it. And yes, I did start each program by yelling, 'Good Morning, Vietnam!"'

The rest is what he delicately called "good script crafting."

Cronauer was from Pittsburgh, the son of a steelworker and a schoolteacher. After the military, he worked in radio, television and advertising.

© AP 2018