He was 72, and died at his home in the central California
town of San Luis Obispo of respiratory failure due to chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, which the U.S. surgeon general
has linked to smoking.
His death was reported by his family in an obituary notice
published on Sunday in the Los Angeles Times. The date of his
death was not specified.
The square-jawed Lawson played dozens of bit parts in television
shows spanning three decades, starting in the 1970s, including "Baretta,"
"The Waltons," "CHiPs," "Charlie's Angeles and "The A-Team."
His screen credits also included appearances in several
relatively obscure film titles, such as "Gymkata," "King Cobra"
and "Tall Tale," but his acting career was disrupted by an
accident he suffered while filming the 1991 movie "The Shooter,"
according to his obituary.
Lawson was perhaps best recognized for his appearances during
the late 1970s and early 1980s as the rugged cowboy in Marlboro
Man print ads for Marlboro-brand cigarettes, one of the world's
most successful commercial campaigns.
The Marlboro Man promotion was launched in the 1950s as a way of
instilling a masculine image for then-newly filtered Marlboro
cigarettes, originally considered a women's brand, and
repositioning them as a tobacco choice for men.
The campaign was seen as instrumental in establishing Marlboro
as the top-selling cigarette brand in the United States and
internationally, said Tom Glynn, director of cancer science and
trends for the American Cancer Society.
[to top of second column]
Years later, however, Lawson became outspoken in
warning of the dangers of cigarettes, appearing in a 1998
anti-tobacco public service message for the American Cancer Society
that parodied the Marlboro man character.
In the 30-second ad, western-style music plays in
the background as Lawson is seen in his full cowboy regalia,
smoking, riding his horse, herding cattle, mending fences, splitting
firewood and then puffing away on another cigarette when the music
abruptly ends with a loud thud.
Lawson turns around stunned to see his horse lying motionless on the
ground, and the scene fades to the message: "Secondhand smoke
Lawson was one of several actors and pitchmen hired over the years
to appear in Philip Morris's Marlboro Man and Marlboro County ads in
print and television.
His family's obituary said Lawson also "was particularly proud of an
NBC interview he gave regarding the negative effects of cigarette
He is survived by six children, 18 grandchildren and 11
great-grandchildren, according to his family.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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