Local News

Jan 28, 2014 1:33 AM by Victoria Johnson, KSBY News

Former Marlboro Man's wife opens up about the man behind the ads

A local man, who for years, was known as the Marlboro Man has died at his home in San Luis Obispo. Eric Lawson was 72 years old. His wife says he died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the late 1970's, he portrayed the Marlboro Man in cigarette ads. The ruggedly handsome model was also an actor. He met his wife in acting school.

"He sucked me in and pretended like he had had gotten locked out of his car. I used a coat hanger to open his car for him and then found out he used to hot wire his brother's car all the time and steal his brother's car so he totally sucked me in," says Susan Lawson, Eric Lawson's wife.

She said her husband was the whole package.

"It was something that it...pump, pump of the heart," said Lawson.

The rest is history. He was a family man.

"She was at the age where daddy was her prince charming," said Lawson, looking at a photo of one of their daughters with Eric.

Nearly 38 years of memories were captured in photos.

"We loved our camping trips. Dad would pull out the camera while wife and daughters made camp," said Lawson, laughing.

He loved the outdoors and wanted to be a cowboy.

"We have pictures of when he was a little boy up on a horse with his little chaps and holsters," said Lawson as she reminisced.

He grew up to be one in Marlboro ads and in the movies.

He struggled with his cigarette addiction and warning his kids about the dangers of smoking.

"It was don't do as I do, do as I say. They understood the heart behind it," said Lawson.

In 1997, he was in an anti-smoking ad.

"He ended up smoking while he was running fence and suddenly the horse drops over from second hand smoke," said Lawson as she described the ad.

He was a kind and funny man and won't be forgotten.

"Everybody I knew talked about how he would go above and beyond to help others," said Lawson.

Susan Lawson says he leaves behind six children, 19 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. A private memorial service will be held this Friday in Los Angeles.

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