"Marlboro Man" dies at age 51
of lung cancer

The Associated Press, July 25, 1992

COSTA MESA, Calif.- Wayne McLaren, who portrayed the rugged "Marlboro Man" in cigarette ads but became an anti-smoking crusader after developing lung cancer, has died. He was 51.

McLaren, who smoked for about 25 years and was diagnosed with the disease about two years ago, died Wednesday at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.

"He fought a hard battle," his mother, Louise McLaren, said Wednesday. "Some of his last words were: 'Take care of the children. Tobacco will kill you, and I'm living proof of it.'"

Last spring, he appeared before a meeting of stockholders of Phillip Morris Inc., maker of Marlboro, and asked them to limit their advertising. He made other public appearances to warn about the dangers of smoking.

His wife, Ellen McLaren, said letters arrived for her husband in his final week from people who pledged to continue McLaren's battle against smoking.

McLaren, a rodeo rider, actor and Hollywood stuntman, was hired in 1975 to appear in Marlboro magazine and billboard ads, evoking a tough and handsome smoker's image for the brand.

The Lake Charles, La., native once said he was a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker for about 25 years. His advanced lung cancer was diagnosed in the spring of 1990.

In an interview last week, McLaren said his habit had "caught up with me. I've spent the last month of my life in an incubator and I'm telling you, it's just not worth it."