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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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cib1718 January 27 2014 at 5:36 PM

How lucky was he to make it to 72. It's tragic, he couldn't have died of natural causes due to lack of care...welcome to the new age...you (reading this) will be lucky to make it to 50!! And so the new world order begins. Be careful what you wish for!!

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1 reply
JackieRay cib1718 January 27 2014 at 6:52 PM

what do you call natural causes. To me anything other than murder is a natural cause it is just now that can tell which natural cause killed you

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ROB DA PIMP! January 27 2014 at 4:49 PM

ALSO I HAVE HAD 2 RELATIVES DIE OF CANCER THAT HAVE NEVER SMOKED A DAY IN THERE LIFE BUT I HAVE HAD A MILLION RELATIVES THAT SMOKED EVERYDAY OF THERE LIFE SINCE THE AGE OF 13-14OR 15 AND NEVER GOT CANCER AND DIED AT THE RIPE AGE OF 90 SO IT'S SO FULL OF CRAP IF U DIE U DIE NOT BECAUSE OF SMOKING! ALSO IF U GET CANCER IT'S BECAUSE U GOT IT NOT BECAUSE U SMOKED! **** LET ME GUESS MY COUSIN THAT SMOKED EVERY DAY FROM THE AGE OF 15 AND DIED EALRY AT LIKE 38 BECAUSE OF CERVICAL CANCER AND LET ME GUESS IT'S BECAUSE SHE SMOKED RIGHT LOL U CAN HAVE BONE CERVICAL BRAIN PANCREAS OR BUTTHOLE CANCER AND THEY WILL SAY OH IT'S BECAUSE U SMOKED NO IT'S BECAUSE U GOT IT MAYBE IF U GET LUNG CANCER MAYBE IT'S 50-50 U GOT IT BECAUSE EITHER U GOT IT OR MAYBE THE SMOKING HELPED BUT EITHER WAY IF IT'S YOUR TIME TO DIE IT'S YOUR TIME PERIOD LIKE I SAY PEOPLE DIE EVERYDAY THAT NEVER DID NOTHING IN THERE LIFE AND DIE AT 30-40 YRS OLD SO IT'S A BUNCH OF CRAP

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4 replies
Deb & Tim January 27 2014 at 4:48 PM

I was born in 1961. I grew up with smoking being what was cool and adult behavior promoted by TV ads. I'm a heavy smoker at 52 yrs. of age. It has taken its toll on me but so has the booze and numerous other bad habits I've aquired over the years. It's all about choices. I choose to live as I have until I have no choice.

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1 reply
Marilyn Deb & Tim January 27 2014 at 4:54 PM

THEN WHO CHOICE WILL IT BE TO TAKE CARE OF YOU.THINK OF SOMEONE ELSE BESIDE YOUR SELF, YOU MADE THE CHOICE TO KILL YOUR SELF WHY SHOULD THEY BE IN THE SAME BOAT AS YOU.

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GARY January 27 2014 at 4:36 PM

Some of us are born with the Cancer gene and will get it no matter what. I had two Aunts on both sides of my family who died of Cancer and neither one of them smoked or drank. My Grandmother lived to be 84 and smoked un-filtered cigarettes all her life from about 20 and a Doctor told her to stop when she was 83 and had no health problems. She died a year later of aged related problems.

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mj8639 January 27 2014 at 4:33 PM

This is not the only Marlboro man that died, if I recall.

COPD can be caused by other things including breathing the air in the wrong city.

It was not cancer or a heart attack though.

Did he have Pneumonia? Main complciation from the Flu. We are in the midst of the bad Flu season this year. Pneumonia gives one trouble breathing too, especially if one has COPD. Just a thought.

He did, however, fall short of the life expentancy for a man in America which is currently 76. The key factor in that is geography. You Californians may know what it is in your state. That is where the Marlboro Man lived..

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swinkbuilding January 27 2014 at 4:25 PM

The man lived a full life the way he wanted to. That is the American way last time I looked.

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Viper1ex19 January 27 2014 at 5:44 PM

My Grandfather smoked since he was 12 years old and died of a heart attack at 86 years old.
One of my neighbors never smoked in his life and he died of lung cancer at 41 years old.
Go Figure,,,

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s5cat2dog January 27 2014 at 4:21 PM

It wasn't smoking that killed him. It was time. Nobody gets out alive....not even you anti-smokers.

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Marlon January 27 2014 at 3:59 PM

according to the media everything iws smoking related from a stubbed toe ( couldn't see where he was going because of the cigarette smoke) to diabetes (cigarettes made you crave sweets leading to the illness) everything under the sun is cigarette related illness.

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The Anti-Goebbels January 27 2014 at 3:52 PM

Yeah, but he had a good ride while it lasted...

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