Eric Lawson Dies, Original Marlboro Man Was 72

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Eric Lawson, an actor best known for portraying The Marlboro Man in a series of television ads from 1978-1981, died January 10 at his home in San Luis Obispo.

He was 72 years old.

According to Lawson's wife, Susan, Eric died of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He had smoked since the age of 14.

“He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him,” Susan tells Varitey. “He knew, yet he still couldn’t stop.”

Lawson eventually appear on anti-smoking ads and once gave an interview to Entertainment Tonight in which he emphasized the negative effects of smoking.

Lawson made guest stops on Baretta and The Streets of San Francisco and also included Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty and Baywatch on his resume.

However, injuries sustained on the set of a Western movie ended Lawson's career in 1997.

He is survived by six children, 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Two other actors who have pitched Marlboro have also died of smoking-based illnesses: David Millar passed away of emphysema in 1987; and David McLean died of lung cancer in 1995.