Photo by Buena Vista/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — On this day in 1988, Good Morning, Vietnam hit theaters. The film, loosely based on the exploits of the real-life disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, starred the late Robin Williams as the irreverent D.J. who brings smiles to the faces of U.S. G.I.s during the Vietnam war.
Good Morning, Vietnam became one of the highest-grossing movies of 1988, with a take of more than $123 million. Williams’ performance earned him an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win. While Williams had previously starred in the movies Popeye, The World According to Garp and Moscow on the Hudson, his turn as Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam was considered his breakthrough role.
The film’s soundtrack, filled with Motown and other period hits, was certified platinum. Because of its placement in the movie Louis Armstrong’s then-20-year-old standard “What A Wonderful World” was released as a single, and hit 32 on the U.S. Top 40 chart.
According to USA Today, the real Cronauer insisted that Barry Levinson-directed movie took some real liberties with his life story. In 2008, according to the Military Times, he told a group of veterans that if he’d done half the things Robin Williams did in that movie, “I’d still be in Leavenworth [prison].”
Still, Cronauer was happy with the movie, especially its respectful portrayal of Americans who were sent overseas. He and Williams became friends after the film was completed, and he was reportedly “gobsmacked” by Williams’ death by suicide in 2014, according to the Military Times.
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