Q: Was Adrian Cronauer, on whom "Good Morning, Vietnam" was based, really sent home early from Vietnam as the movie portrays? Or did he serve out his time there?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

According to the real Adrian Cronauer, if he had done some of the things his fictional counterpart did in the 1987 movie, "I'd still be in Leavenworth" (referring to the military prison in Kansas).

"It was never intended to be a point-by-point accurate biography," Cronauer told Military Times magazine in a 2014 interview. "It was intended to be a piece of entertainment, and it certainly was that. It was nominated for an Academy Award, and you don't get much better than that."

When you think about it, he was being an awfully good sport about the fact that the film suggested that he, a real-life military man, was booted out in disgrace (which he was not). But that good humor is one of the things the film, in which he is portrayed by fast-taking film great Robin Williams, did take from real life.

Despite the final product taking so many liberties, Cronauer is the one who first came up with the idea of filming his life story.

He initially began pitching it in 1979 as a TV series, hoping to capitalize on the success of "M*A*S*H." When that didn't work, he turned into it a made-for-TV movie treatment, which is the form in which it landed on Williams' desk.

He continued working in radio after exiting the military in 1966, used some of the money he earned from the film to earn a law degree and worked on various veterans causes in his later years.

These details are all drawn from his lengthy obituary in the New York Times — sadly, he died in 2018 at the age of 79.


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