Larry L. Oatman: Remembering Cronauer’s time in Lima

By Larry L. Oatman - Guest Columnist

“G-o-o-o-d morning, Lima!”

No, Adrian Cronauer never said that. But he could have, as he lived in Lima a year after he yelled “Vietnam” rather than “Lima” as a morning Air Force DJ in Saigon.

His morning radio three-word greeting became the title of the 1987 film “Good Morning Vietnam,” which he co-wrote about his time as an Air Force DJ in Vietnam in 1965. His title role, as a U.S. war radio veteran, was portrayed by the late Robin Williams, who earned an Academy Award nomination.

The film was a departure from other Vietnam war movies that focused on bloody realism. Instead it was a somewhat biographical story of a DJ whose antics with news reading, humor and rock and roll angered his military bosses but was loved by the troops.

Adrian admired Williams’ performance in the film but later said in an interview,”If I did half the things that Williams did in that movie, I’d still be in Leavenworth.”

“I’m not anti-military or anti-establishment,” Cronauer said. “I was anti-stupidity. And you certainly do run into a lot of stupidity in the military.”

After 21 years in radio, television, advertising and teaching before a career as a lawyer, Adrian died July 18 at the age of 79 at his home in Troutville, Virginia, after a long illness.

In 1967, Adrian, just out of the U.S. Force as a sergeant, lived in Lima and was the second half of a two-man news team with Walt Wilson at then-WIMA-TV.

I met Adrian in the fall of 1967 at Encore Theatre, where he played the role of Felix in Neil Simon’s great comedy “The Odd Couple.” The 50-year-old Encore printed program stated that “Lima area residents will recognize Adrian from his regular appearances on WIMA-TV’s nightly newscasts.” It also acknowledged that while in the service, he appeared in “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.”

The Encore play, which ran for 10 performances in mid-October, also starred William Kircher as Oscar. The legendary comedy was directed by Bob Fronterhouse.

Also in the local cast were Robert M. Light, prior to his being elected common pleas court judge, as Roy, and his daughter, Kathy Light, as one of

the Pigeon sisters. Kathy also designed the set.

I designed and operated the various sound effects for the play, which not only received laughs each night but one night got recognized with applause from the audience. It was a hilarious sound of a flushing toilet.

Adrian was a natural comedic actor and one night showed tremendous stage presence. The final scene hinged on a phone call from Felix’s wife.

However, one night the stage telephone, which was rigged to ring like an actual phone, had become uncradled. Much to my dismay, this prevented the phone from ringing on cue.

Adrian, who needed the phone to ring to deliver his key speech, sensed there was a problem and ad-libbed his line, “Oh, and by the way if my wife, Blanche, were to call me, tell her…” And then he recited all of the key words which were needed to conclude the play. He not only saved the play but stole the show.

Prior to the play, Adrian had dated a cute, red-haired Lima News education reporter, Kathy Roberts. She, along with Gwen Dunster, worked props on the play. During the run of the play a romance developed with my co-worker, Kathy. We became The Lima News “odd couple” and were married the following July.

Ironically, 25 years later, I returned to Lima and single. I then dated Kathy Light for 11 months. Now that’s really odd, a couple of times.

By Larry L. Oatman

Guest Columnist

Larry L. Oatman lives in Lima.

Larry L. Oatman lives in Lima.

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