Eric Lawson, who portrayed Marlboro man, dies at 72


This undated photo from Susan Lawson shows Eric Lawson, who portrayed the rugged Marlboro man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s. He died Jan. 10 at age 72 of respiratory failure. (AP)

Eric Lawson, who portrayed the rugged Marlboro man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s, died Jan. 10 at his home in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He was 72.

The cause was respiratory failure because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said his wife, Susan Lawson.

Mr. 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.

Mr. Lawson, who had smoked since age 14, later appeared in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro man and an “Entertainment Tonight” segment to discuss the negative effects of smoking.

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.

Besides his wife, survivors include six children; 18 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

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