The rugged actor who portrayed the Marlboro man in the company’s iconic cigarette ads has died at 72.
The Huffington Post reports that Eric Lawson died January 10 in his home in San Luis Obispo, California, of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Lawson was doing bit parts on TV shows such as “Baretta” and “The Streets of San Francisco” before he became the Marlboro man from 1978 to 1981. His wife, Susan Lawson, said that her late husband’s film career came to an end in 1997 after he sustained significant injuries on the set of a Western film.
Lawson has also appeared on “Charlie’s Angels,” Dynasty” and “Baywatch.”
Though he smoked regularly since he was 14, Lawson would go on to appear in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro man, along with an “Entertainment Tonight” segment to discuss the negative effects of cigarettes.
Susasn told HuffPost that her husband was proud of the interview despite the fact that he was still smoking at the time and continued to do so 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.”
Several actors and models featured in Marlboro ads have also died of diseases caused by smoking. This includes David Millar, who died of emphysema in 1987, and David McClean, who succumbed to lung cancer in 1995.
Lawson is survived by six children, 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.