Hollywood stars paid to smoke

Ronald Reagon Tobacco adHollywood’s Golden Age stars were paid to promote smoking, according to a new study. A-list actors such as Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne received huge amounts of money through their film studios, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. A key document uncovered by the researchers was a list of payments for a single year in the late 1930s, detailing how much stars were paid by American Tobacco, the makers of Lucky Strike. The document shows movie stars who endorsed Lucky Strikes cigarettes in 1937 were paid $218,750, the equivalent of $3 million in today’s economy. In total, almost 200 stars took part in cigarette endorsements, even though it was already known that tobacco use could lead to health problems. James Cagney, who didn’t give in to pressure to smoke, was still affected, commenting in his autobiography about his dismay at the loss of co-star Ann Sheridan at 51 of cancer of the esophagus and liver. Other stars who died of smoking-related diseases include Humphrey Bogart (throat cancer, age 57), Spencer Tracy (heart attack following lung congestion at 67), John Wayne (lung & stomach cancer at 72), Clark Gable (coronary thrombosis, 59), Gary Cooper (prostate cancer, 60) and Betty Grable (lung cancer, 57).

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Lorna Loomis • September 26, 2008 @ 9:37 AM

    So how is Gary Cooper’s prostate cancer related to amoking?

  2. Gina • September 26, 2008 @ 10:40 AM

    Also related to their deaths, but not often mentioned, is the fact that after all of the nuclear testing done in the Nevada desert, a lot of that “hot” sand was trucked back into Hollywood and dumped onto several backlots where they film movies- hence the long list of actors that have died from various cancers over the years, specially the ones from the 50’s and 60’s. They didn’t fully understand the cause and effects of that testing until years later, and so didn’t take better care on where they got that sand. Or even where they filmed on location…

  3. ProjectX23 • September 26, 2008 @ 10:47 AM

    I think that Gary Cooper’s prostate canacer is realted to smoking because he was probably one of the many actors who was paid to smoke. They’re just listing some of the many names that have died that were on the list of being paid to smoke.

  4. Sorsha • September 26, 2008 @ 12:13 PM

    John Wayne also filmed a movie in the infamous Bikini Islands whic the US used extensively for nuclear testing.

    Cancer can be caused by smoking regardless of where the cancer actually starts. The chemicals contained in cigarette smoke don’t just stay in the lungs they travel through out the body.

  5. DonnaS • September 26, 2008 @ 12:54 PM

    We’re being told this as if it was a breaking news story. It has been known by the public for years. I guess it’s a slow news day.

  6. Nancy • September 26, 2008 @ 1:24 PM

    The article says the stars mention “died of smoking related diseases”……….prostate cancer is not a smoking related disease just as breast cancer is not. MANY people who have never smoked in their lives get prostate or breast cancer.

  7. mandee • September 26, 2008 @ 1:39 PM

    man, even if you die in a CAR ACCIDENT, if there was a cigarette in the ashtray, they will link your death to smoking. lol, people are just dumb, and im not even a smoker 😛 wonder what they would blame my death on?

  8. Kayla • September 26, 2008 @ 1:39 PM

    I never heard about this before. I found it one of the most fascinating news stories on here. What’s that cancer Patrick Swayze has, isn’t it something like prostrate? And he’s been a heavy smoker for years.

  9. Anonymous • September 26, 2008 @ 2:01 PM

    It says “Smoking related” smoking Does increase the risk of Cancer no matter where the cancer is. It doesn’t mean that it caused the cancer but it would definately INCREASE the chance of getting cancer. Just Like driving really fast INCREASES your chance of a car accident.
    P.S Patrick Swayze has pancreatic not prostate not the same at all but smoking is a risk factor for any cancer.

  10. A-nony-mouse • September 26, 2008 @ 2:07 PM

    “MANY people who have never smoked in their lives get prostate or breast cancer.”

    Hate to tell you this, but MANY people who don’t smoke get lung cancer too.

    There is no proof that smoking increases the risk of cancer and Gary Cooper should not have been part of the list based on the way the sentence was set up.

    The point I give above still stands however.

  11. Caller • September 26, 2008 @ 2:43 PM

    A-nony-mouse has said the single, dumbest thing ever said on any forum, on any website…well probably just for September 26th. But I would still like to call attention to his stupidity. It must take hard work to be so ignorant as to say there is no proof smoking increases the risk of cancer.

  12. Nancy • September 26, 2008 @ 4:51 PM

    A-nony-mouse: Hate to tell you this, DUH! You’re kidding right? I know, as does probably everyone on here, that MANY people who have never smoked in their lives can also get lung cancer. Anyone can get cancer…not just smokers. I spoke only of prostate & breast cancer because that is what I was referring to at the moment but I could have listed a whole page of all the different cancers…I guess you figure I should have!

    Caller: I think A-nony- mous should have said, and yes, it’s TRUE…there is no proof that smoking increases the risk of CERTAIN TYPES of cancer. SUCH AS PROSTATE CANCER for instance, there is no one certain cause and when Googled, smoking isn’t even mentioned as a possible cause! Some causes are: genetics, age and race…yes RACE. Actually black people are most likely to develope prostate cancer.

  13. Patricia • September 27, 2008 @ 3:58 AM

    smoking is hazardous to our health that much is for sure. I know people who never smoked a day in their lives and still died of lung cancer. There is no doubt about the fact that if you smoke it certainly increases the risk of you getting cancer, does it actually cause it..the jury is still out on that. The actors getting paid to endorse smoking is no big surprise. The surprise is that it only cost them $218,750,that hardly covers the cost of the treatments etc. even back in the olden days!

  14. Nancy • September 27, 2008 @ 12:51 PM

    Patricia: That money was just the cost of the endorsement by the actors, it does not include the cost of the cigarettes, lighters, matches, rolling papers, tobacco, etc. and taxes on all of those. In Canada, there are approximately 32 million people. If, for instance, 5 million of them are smokers of 1 or more packs a day, at almost $10 per pack (yes, they are at the corner store!)…well, you figure it out…smokers are paying MORE than enough to cover the cost of ALL medical treatment for smoking related diseases in this country…and then some! And yet, smokers are denied treatment by many of this countries doctors…???? Thankfully I have been quit smoking for 2 years next January!!

    Oh, and all you little children out there with cancer…according to some of the posters on here, you better quit smoking!!

  15. jrobert • September 27, 2008 @ 3:01 PM

    That`s unsuprising to hear that Hollywood stars have been paid to promote smoking.But most of the stars that were mentioned in that article died of health problems that can be traced back to smoking.People aren`t stupid,they undertsand the dangers of smoking but they do it anyways. Look at the late Peter Jennings,the late King George(Queen Elizabeth`s Dad) or how Larry King almost died when he had a heart attack from smoking,so many celebrities and public figure endorse smoking and other types of generally unhealthy behaviour through their actions.And fine if they`re adults,that`s their choice.Reap what you sow.But children should be shown more positive examples of healthy living from celebrities.Someone on here said that a person who has never smoked a day in their life can get lung cancer from second hand smoke and still die.And that`s absolutely true but you`re better off if you avoid being around second hand smoke and if you avoid smoking altogether.Ah well,to each their own.

  16. Cathy • September 27, 2008 @ 5:01 PM

    To those who don’t think smoking causes cancer or anything else, what is wrong with you? Studies have shown the dangers of smoking. It just doesn’t cause cancer, it is related to many other diseases. The ingredients in cigarettes cause your immune system to break down and opens you up to contracting many other things. For me, I ended up with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and had to have a double lung transplant. My parents who were chain smokers left me exposed to smoke and no matter where you went smoking was accepted. At least now I can go out and not be around smoke. If you have arthritis, smoking can increase the severity of the symtoms. It didn’t cause it, but does affect it in some way. The results of smoking a compounded thing. The more people smoke over the years, the build up in our air and our systems increases you and your family become open to more sickness which can include cancer. Look at the increase of cancers, heart disease, COPD (which by the way is a direct result from smoking) etc. If we continue to allow smoking, our kids and theirs will be even more likely to get ill and die at an earlier age. Infertility has also increased in the last 10 to 15 years with some links to smokings. Smoking not only harms yourself but the people around you. So, think about me when you light up, I have had a transplant, suffered infertility and much more and I am only 51. Don’t let our children suffer even more.

  17. AN • September 27, 2008 @ 11:26 PM

    Alcohol and drugs kill people too. Gee, I wonder how many famous people have dabbled in that festering pool?
    Smoking weed increases lung/throat/mouth cancers too. No articles about actors being paid to do that – but privately who knows what else was in the total picture.

  18. Nancy • September 28, 2008 @ 12:08 AM

    Yeah, I’ve read articles before where it was said that peanut butter and coffeemate were believed to cause cancer. To tell you the truth, I believe that as long as the Cancer Society is raking in millions, or should I say billions, of dollars every year, the cure for cancer shall never be found!! There’s too much money involved to find the cure.

  19. Cory • September 28, 2008 @ 11:08 PM

    Smoking is directly related to prostate cancer…Duh! Quit smoking people…it’s pointless and does absolutely NOTHING positive for you!

  20. tributegirl • September 29, 2008 @ 3:36 PM

    Nancy, I’ve had that exact same conversation with many people. Many people, myself included, also believe that the cure for cancer will never be found, because right now they are making tons of money. I believe it CAN be found (the cure), but as long as they are making all this money, why would they want to find the cure?

  21. AN • September 29, 2008 @ 11:32 PM

    Yes it’s probably true – it seems they are closer to finding a cure for Aids which has not been around as long as Cancer.
    What a horrible thought, if they actually could do something more for Cancer and are not because the funding would diminish.

  22. Nancy • September 30, 2008 @ 5:16 PM

    It’s not just cancer though, there are a few different ones that make TOO MUCH money to ever “want” to give up the funding and fund raising to find a cure. Here’s another one for example, the Heart & Stroke Foundation. I guess they think we are all stupid. I believe that the causes and cures for these diseases were found/known long ago….but the almighty greed of the dollar has gotten in the way.

  23. Jo-Anne. • October 1, 2008 @ 7:34 PM

    It is absolute nonsense to think the cure for cancer, heart disease, etc, has been found and the founder(s) of these cures are simply keeping millions in the dark and watching people suffer from these horrid diseases.

    Of course the Cancer Society rakes in a lot of money while researching, treating, etc…..you know what? I changed my mind. I’m not even going down that path. I can’t even fathom what I’m reading here, it’s way beyond putting forth any kind of reasonable argument. Unbelieveable ignorance.

  24. Nancy • October 1, 2008 @ 8:10 PM

    Oh, like you would know!! Trust me Jo Jo, you would have to be absolutely blind & have a ‘fried’ brain to not know that the almighty dollar has ALWAYS come before the human life!! The government controls the cash, the government gives the approval/disapproval for anything they consider to be a ‘medicinal product’ (FDA…sound familiar?) and the Drug companies pay big bucks to make sure that people keep popping their pills! You should try reading up on a couple of really ‘interesting’ books Jo Jo….try ones written by an author named Kevin Trudeau.

    Oh, by the way, cancer & heart & stroke are far from the only places that withhold something just to keep raking in the dough. Here’s another one….a device which was created to go in the carbeurator of your vehicle to allow you to get over a hundred miles per gallon…but the oil companies bought out the product from the inventor!

    Just the tip of the iceberg!!

  25. Jo-Anne. • October 2, 2008 @ 11:27 AM

    trust you? LMAO

  26. tributegirl • October 2, 2008 @ 3:02 PM

    And does anyone on here ever watch Market Place? They had one segment on there about the heart & stroke foundation, you know all those products you buy at the grocery store with their checkmark of approval? Most of that stuff is crap, not good for you at all, but the companies paid the heart & stroke foundation big bucks to get their approval stamp put on their products. H&S foundation did NOT answer Market Place’s questions clearly at all, sounded like a bunch of politicians. So yeah, all these places are only in it for the money, not the cure.

  27. Nancy • October 2, 2008 @ 5:03 PM

    Whatever then Jo Jo, I really don’t care WHAT you believe. If you don’t want to take my word for it….GOOGLE. Oh, and look up Kevin Trudeau….very interesting reading. There is a very GOOD reason why not many people place their trust in their government…and here in Canada is no different. Politics = money.

  28. Jo-Anne. • October 2, 2008 @ 9:01 PM

    nancy, you so VERY (emphasis on the VERY) obviously care what I think…
    who are you kidding
    (besides t.g.?)

  29. Nancy • October 3, 2008 @ 7:46 PM

    I wonder if she can figure out the ‘shoulders’ thing…???


  30. tributegirl • October 4, 2008 @ 12:22 AM

    Ohhhhhh, I’m sooooo tempted to explain the shoulders thing!!!!!

    Seriously though (almost), does anyone on here watch Market Place? I now hate staying in hotels because of that show!

    Oh, the shoulders!!! OMG, LMFAHO!!!!!!!!

  31. Nancy • October 4, 2008 @ 4:10 PM

    Oh, hotels…so, I guess you saw the episode where they went over the room with a black light, huh? Interesting findings….especially on the bed sheets…YUCK!

  32. tributegirl • October 8, 2008 @ 9:48 AM

    I know! I keep thinking of all the creases, etc in the mattresses, UG!!!!! Now I almost freak out every time I have to stay in a hotel!

  33. Marilynn Masten • October 12, 2008 @ 10:57 AM

    Let’s pretend tobacco does NOT contribute to people suffering from lung cancer, consider then the yellow teeth, the yellow fingers, the burned upholstery or sheets and blankets.
    Consider also the putrid breath, the tobacco scented hair and body of a smoker. Second hand smoke stinks and, although smokers don’t believe it, we who don’t smoke can walk into a room where a smoker has been and find ourselves unable to breathe.

  34. Nancy • October 12, 2008 @ 4:41 PM

    I totally believe that Marilynn. Like I said, I’ve been quit for almost 2 years now and I don’t allow anyone to smoke in my house….they try but, I don’t allow it. I put a ‘Smoke free home. No smoking.’ sticker in the window of my front door. I drive down the street with the window open and I can smell when someone walking or in another car nearby is smoking. It doesn’t really bother me to be around it for awhile. I don’t have trouble breathing or anything. I don’t agree though, that Dr.’s should turn ANY patient away whether they smoke or not. If the government is going to allow that, then they need to stop taxing the tobacco products or only tax them at the 13¢ per dollar(in Ontario). I also don’t agree that everytime the word ‘CANCER’ comes up, people automatically start with the “Well, it’s from smoking!” For years now, I have shook my head at the non-smokers who complain about people who smoke and say the government should ban tobacco. Think about it….do you honestly believe the government can afford and are totally ready and willing to give up all that tax money? Is it sinking in yet…how high EVERYONE’S taxes will go to compensate for that loss? Only thing is, smoker’s won’t be losing any money. Their cigarette money will now go for higher taxes but non-smokers will pay out of pocket for sure!

  35. god • November 10, 2008 @ 3:33 AM

    George burns lived to 100 and he was a heavy smoker. Health nazis don’t live any longer than lifelong smokers

  36. Biochemist • March 13, 2009 @ 2:46 PM

    I’ve been reading these and I’m shocked at what people actually believe (how ignorant people are). I know this is an old chat but honestly…to say that cancer is not affected by tobacco use is ridiculous. Try opening a book and doing your own research before spouting someone elses words that happen to be wrong. You are right about one thing, tobacco isn’t the only thing linked to cancer and other health problems. Alcohol and drugs are also linked as well as new evidence that heavily processed foods are too. Anything with added chemicals typically aren’t good for you (like cigarettes). Too bad that many foods and everyday materials have those added compounds. Living in today’s society isn’t perfect, many things are bad for you, and yes it’s true you don’t have to ever smoke to get cancer or other diseases, but your chances greatly increase. It’s a proven fact…try reading! Not just watching TV. Who said they were experts anyway?
    Yes smokers also pay taxes on cigarettes that help pay for health care. You honeslty believe that the taxes off the cigarettes pay for all the illnesses affected by smoking? Why should non smokers pay for those who choose to be unhealthy and disgusting. Most people know the affects of smoking, the risks invovled, yet they get upset when doctors and health insurance companies won’t help them. Why should they? Smoking isn’t necessary for life, or function of life. You said yourself you quit! You don’t need it, why defend it? And to say that the companies that are trying to help those in need are only in the business for the money….ridiculous. Have you ever spoken to someone who has gone through treatments and as been helped by these companies that you think want to let them die. Did you know that cancer survival goes up 2 percent every year? Was that because of the people hard at work raising money or just luck? I hope to God you don’t get cancer and need their help. Because according to you they only care about the almighty dollar!! Ridiculous!!!

  37. Missladu • April 24, 2012 @ 1:48 PM

    Didn’t get a chance to read everyone’s post. I just wanted to put in my two cents. Second hand smoke is worse for everyone. It’s a poison that people breath in every day. That’s the reason why I don’t allow my friends to smoke around me. My best friend smokes and she doesn’t believe the hype about how bad smoking is for her. I live in a smoke free state so it makes it that much easier to stay away from smoking.

    Although I’ve never smoked; I have alot of compassion for people who smoke and try really hard to quit. It’s quite addictive. We had a friend who tried really hard to quit. He died of a heart attack at the age of 58.

  38. susan • August 25, 2012 @ 9:25 AM

    I was just watching a tribute to Gary Cooper on TCM and just had to read about him. He died at the age of 60 from cancer which led me to ask the internet if he was a smoker. Wiki says that he was a smoker, but had prostate cancer which then spread to his colon, then his lungs and then his bones. My ex-husband died of lung cancer at the age of 61 and he was a smoker from the age of 15. Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer, but was a smoker. It’s obvious to me that smoking can cause cancer in any part of the body.

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