The Truth about the Marlboro Man

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"In a world that was becoming increasingly complex and frustrating for the ordinary man, the cowboy represented an antithesis -- a man whose environment was simplistic and relatively pressure free. He was his own man in a world he owned."  - Jack Landry, the Marlboro brand manager at Philip Morris.

Multiple Marlboro men, including Wayne McLaren and David McLean, died of lung cancer, but not before McLaren could testify in favor of anti-smoking legislation.  

The Details:

Wayne McLaren, who posed for Marlboro, succumbed to lung cancer at age 51 on July 22, 1992.  McLaren was a former professional rodeo rider.  Along with a pack & a half a day smoking habit, he was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 49.  Despite chemotherapy, the removal of one lung, and radiation treatments, the cancer eventually spread to his brain and killed him.  After learning he had cancer, McLaren embarked on an anti-smoking campaign that included the production of a commercial described as follows:

In a powerful TV spot, images of the handsome young Wayne McLaren in a Stetson hat are juxtaposed with shots of his withered form in a hospital bed just prior to his death.  His brother, Charles, provides the voiceover and chides the tobacco companies for promoting an "independent" lifestyle and asks, "Lying there with all those tubes in you, how independent can you really be?"


David McLean, who appeared in many Marlboro television and print advertisements, also died of cancer on October 12, 1995.  McLean took up smoking at the age of 12, began to suffer from emphysems in 1985, and had a cancerous tumor removed from his right lung in 1993.  Despite the surgery, the cancer remained and spread to his brain and spine, and McLean succumbed in 1995. 

In August 1996 McLean's widow and son filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Philip Morris, Inc., claiming that McLean was unable to stop smoking because of his nicotine addiction, and that his smoking habit was the cause of his lung cancer.

The lawsuit contended, among other issues, that McLean had been obligated to smoke up to five packs per take in order to get the right look while posing for advertisements, and that he received cartons of Marlboro cigarettes as gifts from Philip Morris.

At last report, the lawsuit was still pending, having outlasted all attempts by defendant Philip Morris to have it dismissed.

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Marlboro Men, Winston Men, Lucky Strike Girls...  just to name a few.