The original Marlboro Man died this week at his Colorado Springs ranch at the ripe old age of 90 — likely because he never actually smoked cigarettes.
Bob Norris was an actor, rancher and dad who played the role of a smoking cowboy on billboards, TV and the pages of magazines for 12 years.
Ad execs first tracked the rugged Colorado native down at his 63,000-acre Tee Cross Ranches in Pueblo, after seeing a photo of him in a newspaper, alongside his longtime pal John Wayne, his son, Bobby, told WKYT in Colorado Springs.
The landmark “Marlboro Man” billboard above Sunset Boulevard will come down if new anti-smoking regulations are adopted.
“They walked out of their car, these guys in their pinstripe suits, and they walked up to Dad and they said, ‘How would you like to be in commercials for Marlboro cigarettes?” the son told the station.
“He said, ‘Well, I’m kind of busy right now. Why don’t you come back next week and if you’re serious, we’ll talk.’ They came back the next week.”
Norris quit the business suddenly — after realizing he was setting a bad example for his two daughters and two sons.
“He always told us kids, ‘I don’t ever want to see you smoking,’ so one of us finally asked, ‘If you don’t want us smoking, why are you doing cigarette commercials,” Bobby said.
That same day, Norris called up Phillip Morris, which owned the Marlboro brand — and he quit.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post.