Mary Muse, the wife of Cronauer's stepson Michael Muse, told the Associated Press thatCronauer died after a long illness. He lived in Troutville, Virginia.
A Pittsburgh native, Cronauer served in the Air Force in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966. He famously started his Armed Forces Radio broadcast by yelling "Gooooood morning, Vietnam!" The line became iconic thanks to Barry Levinson's 1987 movie, which earned Williams an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe. It was loosely based on Cronauer's experiences during the war.
Cronauer praised the film and Williams' performance, even if much of it was fictionalized.
"If I were half as funny as Robin Williams, I'd be out in Hollywood going na-noo, na-noo and making a million dollars,” Cronauer said in a 2005 interview with Urgent Communications. “Once people get to know me, they realize very quickly that I'm not Robin Williams, and it doesn't seem to bother them after that.”
In a 2006 interview with Valor Magazine, Cronauer said if he did many of the things Williams does in the movie, he would have been put in prison.
"Anybody who has been in the military will tell you that if I did half the things in that movie, I'd still be in Leavenworth right now," Cronauer said. "A lot of Hollywood imagination went into the movie. I was a disc jockey in Vietnam and I did teach English in my spare time. I was not thrown out of Vietnam; I stayed for my full one-year tour and I was honorably discharged, thank you very much."
Cronauer knew his life was ripe for Hollywood, even writing a 1979 TV sitcom. Although M*A*S*H was still on air, the idea of a wartime comedy was still rejected. Eventually, he reworked it into a movie script and grabbed Williams' attention.
After serving a year in Vietnam, he worked for the Pentagon as the director of the prisoners of war/missing in action office, reports Stars & Stripes.
Cronaur was also a proud Republican, even appearing in an ad for President George H.W. Bush's re-election campaign. He described himself as a "lifelong card-carrying Republican" in 2005 and also worked for President George W. Bush's campaign.
"I always was a bit of an iconoclast, as Robin (Williams) was in the film," Cronauer said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. "But I was not anti-military, or anti-establishment. I was anti-stupidity. And you certainly do run into a lot of stupidity in the military."0comments
Cronauer's family asks mourners contribute to a veteran's organization of their choice in lieu of flowers. He is survived by his two stepsons, a stepdaughter and several grandchildren.
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