The connection between Louis Armstrong and Robin Williams: What a wonderful world: Good Morning Vietnam

By Jim Campbell

January 17, 2018

The Back Story:

Williams’ spirited portrayal of a zany disc jockey in “Good Morning Vietnam” led to a Golden Globe Award for best actor, an Oscar nomination for best actor and box office success for Hollywood’s first Vietnam War comedy.



It also forged a special bond between Williams and the people who had worked at AFVN, a military-run radio and TV operation that broadcast news and entertainment to the troops.

The  movie set,  was located outside Bangkok, in 1987 for Asia Magazine and “Business Update,” a radio program produced by American Public Radio (now Public Radio International).

It was clear that Williams had done his homework.

In his role, Williams was stuck with officers who had the sense of humor of beings long past dead. 

My favorite line of so many, was when he was when his mirthless officers finally got him fired, he was riding down the elevator with one of them and said, “You need a blowjob more than anyone on Earth.”

He read the war diaries Dispatches and Nam and listened to old armed forces radio recordings to prepare for his role as a fictionalized version of AFVN’s Adrian Cronauer, who greeted his radio audience with “Goooooood morning, Vietnam!”

Cronauer originally hoped to create a M.A.S.H.–type of TV comedy about a military radio station, but Williams heard about the concept and initiated the movie project.

This human comedy is another way of dealing with a memory.”
“Cronauer did some funny things and played rock and roll, and censorship was real,” Williams said.

“If a restaurant blew up and he made an announcement on the radio, they pulled him off the air.”

Asked if enough time had passed for a Vietnam comedy. “I hope so,” he replied. “How long was it before they made Hogan’s Heroes?”

The real Cronauer, a retired Air Force staff sergeant, whose husky voice remains strong at age 75, confesses, “I was not anywhere near as funny as Robin Williams. He was a comic genius.” The two men exchanged Christmas cards every year.

  • This was written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss.
  • Thiele was a producer for ABC records, and Weiss was a songwriter who helped create the hit version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
  • The song is about appreciating the beauty of our surroundings.
  • Armstrong recorded this for scale, accepting only $250 to make sure the orchestra got paid.

  • This is the song most associated with Louis Armstrong, but it does not represent the body of his work, which consists mostly of jazz.
  • In America, this song became a beloved standard, but when it was first released in 1968, it barely dented the charts, peaking at #116.



  • It was more appreciated 20 years later when it was used in the Robin Williams movie Good Morning,
  • Vietnam; the song was re-released to coincide with the film, and this time charted at #33.
  • The boss of ABC Records hated this and did not promote it until it became a hit in England.


In the movie “Good Morning Vietnam, one of  Robbin Williams most memorable roles he plays Adrian Cronauer.



Scenes that didn’t make the movie.



And there you have it!



About JCscuba

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1 Response to The connection between Louis Armstrong and Robin Williams: What a wonderful world: Good Morning Vietnam

  1. Stealth General says:

    Two greats that I admire immensely! I grew up with my dad’s big band jazz records of which Louis was a big part of. Louis Armstrong was a great musician, humanitarian, and just a delightful person.

    Robin Williams was a great comedian, actor and a delightful person. Good Morning Vietnam brought a little humor and stress relief to those of us who were still having bad memories.

    Both of these gentlemen contributed to making humanity better for all, each in their own way.


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