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
"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
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
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."