Bob Norris, original 'Marlboro Man' who never smoked, dead at 90

Bob Norris, a rancher whose rugged persona graced billboards and television commercials as an original Marlboro Man, died Nov. 3 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was 90.

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Norris' death was announced in an obituary posted on his Tee Cross Ranches website. A cause of death was not provided, The New York Times reported.

In Marlboro's ads, Norris was featured as a rancher in cowboy attire -- including a cowboy hat -- as he held a cigarette either in his mouth or his hand, People reported. However, Norris never smoked, according to the Times.

He always told us kids, 'I don't ever want to see you smoking,'" Norris' son, Bobby Norris, told KKTV. "So one of us finally asked, 'If you don't want us smoking, why are you doing cigarette commercials?' He called up Phillip Morris and quit that day."

The Marlboro Man first appeared in advertising in 1955, the Times reported. The cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris and the advertising company Leo Burnett Worldwide revamped the product from one targeted to women to a more masculine audience.

According to his obituary, Norris was a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum -- also known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame -- beginning in 1972 and was eventually inducted in a special category: The Hall of Great Westerners.

Born April 10, 1929, in Chicago, Norris attended Elgin Academy in St. Charles and the University of Kentucky, according to his obituary. In 1950, Norris went into the horse and cattle business and moved to Colorado.

"The Marlboro Man campaign is easily one of the most successful advertising campaigns of all time," Scott Ellsworth, a lecturer at the University of Michigan and former oral historian at the Smithsonian Institution, told the Times. "It absolutely conquered the world."

The Marlboro Man advertising campaign propelled the brand into the world's leading brand in 1972, the newspaper reported. According to Forbes, more than 43 percent of all cigarettes bought in the United States last year were Marlboros.

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