Eric Lawson, one of several actors who depicted the
"Marlboro Man" cowboy in a long-running series of cigarette ads for
Philip Morris and later appeared in an anti-tobacco message for the American
Cancer Society, has died of lung
He was 72, and died at his home in the central California
town of San Luis Obispo of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, which the US surgeon general has linked to smoking.
His death was reported by his family in an obituary notice
published on Sunday in the Los Angeles Times. The date of his death was not
The square-jawed Lawson played dozens of bit parts in
television shows spanning three decades, starting in the 1970s, including
"Baretta", "The Waltons", "CHiPs",
"Charlie's Angels" and "The A-Team". His screen credits also
included appearances in several relatively obscure film titles, such as
"Gymkata", "King Cobra" and "Tall Tale", but his
acting career was disrupted by an accident he suffered while filming the 1991
movie "The Shooter", according to his obituary.
Lawson was perhaps best recognised for his appearances
during the late 1970s and early 1980s as the rugged cowboy in Marlboro Man
print ads for Marlboro-brand cigarettes, one of the world's most successful
The Marlboro Man promotion was launched in the 1950s as a
way of instilling a masculine image for then-newly filtered Marlboro cigarettes
originally considered a women's brand, and repositioning them as a
tobacco choice for men.
The campaign was seen as instrumental in establishing
Marlboro as the top-selling cigarette brand in the United States and
internationally, said Tom Glynn, director of cancer science and trends for the
American Cancer Society.
Second-hand smoke kills
Years later, however, Lawson became outspoken in warning of
the dangers of cigarettes, appearing in a 1998 anti-tobacco public service
message for the American Cancer Society that parodied the Marlboro man
In the 30-second ad, western-style music plays in the
background as Lawson is seen in his full cowboy regalia, smoking, riding his
horse, herding cattle, mending fences, splitting firewood and then puffing away
on another cigarette when the music abruptly ends with a loud thud.
Lawson turns around stunned to see his horse lying
motionless on the ground, and the scene fades to the message: "Second-hand
smoke kills". Lawson was one of several actors and pitchmen hired over the
years to appear in Philip Morris's Marlboro Man and Marlboro County ads in
print and television.
His family's obituary said Lawson also "was
particularly proud of an NBC interview he gave regarding the negative effects
of cigarette smoking." He is survived by six children, 18 grandchildren and
11 great-grandchildren, according to his family.
ignore symptoms of lung disease
cancer different in non-smokers