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Eric Lawson Dead: Actor Who Portrayed The Marlboro Man In 1970s Ads Dies At 72

Actor Who Portrayed The Marlboro Man In 1970s Ads Dies
By DAISY NGUYEN 01/26/14 11:48 PM ET EST

Eric Lawson, who portrayed the rugged Marlboro man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s, has died. He was 72.

Lawson died on January 10 at his home in San Luis Obispo, California, US, of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, his wife, Susan Lawson said Sunday.

Lawson was an actor with bit parts on such TV shows as "Baretta" and "The Streets of San Francisco" when he was hired to appear in print Marlboro ads from 1978 to 1981. His other credits include "Charlie's Angels," "Dynasty" and "Baywatch." His wife said injuries sustained on the set of a Western film ended his career in 1997.

A smoker since age 14, Lawson later appeared in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro man and an "Entertainment Tonight" segment to discuss the negative effects of smoking.

Susan said her husband was proud of the interview, even though he was smoking at the time and continued the habit until he was diagnosed with COPD.

"He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him," she said. "He knew, yet he still couldn't stop."

A few actors and models who pitched Marlboro brand cigarettes have died of smoking-related diseases. They include David Millar, who died of emphysema in 1987, and David McLean, who died of lung cancer in 1995.

Lawson was also survived by six children, 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

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JUST A DUDE February 21 2014 at 9:02 AM


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JUST A DUDE February 21 2014 at 9:01 AM

Smoking has always posed a threat to health.

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teecee656 January 28 2014 at 11:36 AM

I'm 65 and have lived in SoCal for 60 of those years. Until unleaded gas and California's restrictive Air Quality Management District (AQMD) laws came along, in the early 70's we had many "smog days." Just being active made my chest hurt. Those days are gone, as well as jobs such as boat building because of the esters and resins used in fiberglass. The absolute worst air I've ever been around was smoke I inhaled from fighting from brush fires. The fumes from burning poison oak inflame your sinuses to your lungs. My dad was a pipe smoker, and I grew up with 2nd hand smoke, and went to college on a track scholarship. Some people are pre-disposed to certain cancers, and smoking can hasten its onset. Conversely a friend of mines' wife, was diagnosed with lung cancer and she never smoked a day in her life. Darrell Winfield, the original "Marlboro Man," (He was a ranch foreman in Wyoming) and the face of "Come to Marlboro Country-Where the flavor is," is close to 90 and still living in Wyoming. Today the average life expectancy of a male in the US is 79. The odds of dying within 10% of that number is within one standard deviation. In the end, it's not the quantity of life but the quality. Enjoy life, it's the only one you have.

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Baby January 28 2014 at 5:09 AM

I'm 55 and smoked since I was 13. I got up to 3 packs a day. I started vaping vg (organic) juice and I haven't had a cigarette in the last 2 months and for me that's a miracle. I never thought I would stop, but it happened. Now instead of the 500 other chemicals from cigarettes I'm just getting the nicotine, which is about equal to coffee.

Just educate yourself about vaping. And diabetics beware, the PG juice has sugar in it (synthetic) which can cause a rise in blood sugar, the VG juice (organic) doesn't. I vape the menthol cigarette blend. You also get more vaper with the juice than w/ disposable e cig. Do the research.

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pladyfarm January 28 2014 at 4:04 AM

There were acually several other Marlboro men. Mr. Lawson was the most reconized though. Some of the others were on horses and you could not see their faces as well. All but one have died of lung problems. I knew the one healthy one several years ago

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bchrist751 January 28 2014 at 11:31 AM

I know a one Marlboro man who hasn't died of COPD.

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Richard January 28 2014 at 4:01 AM

Legalized Weed is the next target...The fanatics are after E- Cigs in some areas as we speak. Have you ever wondered about all the chemicals we take in daily through our food sources that negatively impact our health long term? Finally it is noted, China's air pollution has already arrived here.

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1 reply to Richard's comment
teecee656 January 28 2014 at 11:57 AM

How about bananas? They are rich in potassium. The only issue is that 2% of all naturally occurring potassium is the radio-active isotope. A truck loaded with bananas can set off a radiation portal monitor. Similarly, carbon 14, is a radio-active isotope with a well known decay rate (used for dating organic material). We're surrounded by electro-magnetic radiation, from radio and TV signals to UHF and VHF frequencies as well as cellular devices. Most homes have Wi-Fi radiating through them. There will always be someone blaming and complaining .... it's just called "life."

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robbhoek January 28 2014 at 3:23 AM

For years I was exposed to “legal” second hand tobacco smoke on the job. Every time somebody would light a cigarette I was forced to participate with them. One of my co-workers, a heavy smoker, thought his rights were violated when the company mandated smoking only at one’s workstation. It became worse when company rules mandated smoking outside the buildings only. He cursed and swore at the non-smokers every time he needed a smoke. One day he did not show up for work and for two weeks nobody knew what had happened to him. Then we learned that he was in in the ICU of the hospital with long cancer. He did not want to see anybody and refused get well cards and flowers. A few days later we were told he had died. He requested that none of his co-workers be present at his funeral service. May God have mercy on his soul.
Today non-smokers will be forced to inhale “legal” secondhand Marijuana smoke. Should people feel sorry for those who die from Marijuana related illnesses and forced their second hand smoke on others?

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pmurrayr January 28 2014 at 3:06 AM

Everyone seems to get up in arms about smokers.... Just to let people know.... they pay huge amounts of tax for their habit and mostly die before being able to claim social security.... I should also mention that now that few people are smoking.... you fat fast food guzzling, obese Americans are next on the list of people to harass, badger and belittle .

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Joseph January 28 2014 at 2:51 AM

He was the 1st 1

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Joseph January 28 2014 at 2:50 AM

Wasn't there 2 guys?
1 guy was early 70s actor b4 1978

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1 reply to Joseph's comment
teecee656 January 28 2014 at 12:17 PM

Joseph.. The first Marlboro Man was Darrell Winfield. He was the foreman at Schwabacher's Quarter Circle Five Ranch outside of Pinedale Wyoming. He was a working cowboy that happened to get into a few pictures of "Marlboro Country." After that, he appeared in about 85% of the ads from '68 to '88. He actually wrangled all the horses and stock they used. He still lives in Wyoming and is close to 90. He was neither an actor or a model, never shaved his mustache and only wore make-up over a scare on his face. When I lived in Pinedale, I misdialed a phone number.. I remember getting a very polite greeting "Winfield residence."

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