Old cigarette ads: These 18 TV & movie stars probably had some regrets

See the vintage celebrities who used to advertise cigarettes - Ron Reagan 1950s

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When you know better, you do better, right? But back when smoking was considered cool (and somehow actually healthy), A-lister television and movie stars had no compunction about promoting the practice, as evidenced by the celebs featured in these vintage cigarette ads.

No doubt they thought they were doing a good thing — or harmless, at best.

Myrna Loy for Lucky Strike cigarettes (1938)

“Laugh, Miss Loy!” Even after “turning on a laugh” 100 times a day, Myrna Loy — MGM star — finds Luckies easy on her throat…

A word about your throat — “Laughing before the sound camera is hard on the throat,” says Myrna Loy. “After scenes of this sort, it’s clear that Luckies are the cigarette for anyone who wants a light smoke that’s easy on the throat!” Here’s the reason in a nutshell: the process “It’s Toasted” takes out certain irritants that are found in all tobacco!

A word about tobacco — Aren’t men who spend their lives buying and selling tobacco the best judges of tobacco quality? Then remember… sworn records reveal that among independent tobacco experts Lucky Strike has twice as many exclusive smokers as all other brands combined.

With men who know tobacco best — its Luckies — 2 to 1.

Myrna Loy cigarettes 1938

Gary Cooper for Lucky Strike cigarettes (1930s)

“A little over a year ago I changed to Luckies because I enjoy their flavor. Ever since, my throat has been in fine shape. As my throat means so much to me in my business, it’s plain common sense for me to prefer this light smoke. So I’m strong for Luckies!” — Gary Coleman

We recently told a smoker what Gary Cooper says about Luckies. The smoker replied: “Then they ought to be easy on my throat, too!” We told him how other leading artists of the screen, stage, radio, and opera — together with professional people such as doctors, lawyers, and lecturers — also prefer Luckies.

We explained that Luckies are a light smoke because the process “It’s Toasted” removes certain throat irritants naturally present in all tobacco. The smoker said: “That sounds sensible. I’ll try Luckies!”… Why don’t you try them, too?

ALSO SEE: Gary Cooper’s mountain hideaway: How the Hollywood star adored Aspen (1949)

Gary Cooper for Lucky Strike cigarettes (1930s)

Vintage actress Ann Sothern with Christmas cigarettes (1950s)

Vintage actress Ann Sothern with Christmas cigarettes (1950s)

MORE: When Victorian women started smoking, cigarette sales were hot

Maureen O’Hara and Chesterfield cigarettes promotion (1941)

Dec 1941 Maureen O'Hara Chesterfield cigarettes

Alan Hale, Sr. for Chesterfield cigarettes (1947)

His son, Alan Hale Jr., was beloved by millions as the Skipper in Gilligan’s Island TV show!

Alan Hale for Chesterfield cigarettes Dec 15, 1947

Old cigarette ads: Pleasure helps your disposition (1955)

It’s a psychological fact: How’s your disposition today?

It’s natural to feel grumpy as a goat when little annoyances pile up. But it’s a psychological fact that pleasure helps your disposition.

So, if you’re a smoker, you should choose the cigarette that gives you the most pleasure. And that means Camels — America’s most popular cigarette.

Celebrities featured: John Wayne, Teresa Wright, Alan Ladd, Maureen O’Hara, Brian Keith, Joanne Dru, Gene Nelson

Celebrities pitch Camel cigarettes (1955)

From a US Magazine article about John Wayne, from June 27, 1978: “Then he went into detail about how his habitual six packs of cigarettes a day had resulted in a lung tumor the size of a baseball.”

Vintage cigarette ads: Ronald Reagan (1951)

“I’m sending Chesterfields to all my friends. That’s the merriest Christmas any smoker can have — Chesterfield mildness plus no unpleasant after-taste.” — Ronald Reagan

ALSO SEE: See Ronald Reagan – the actor – in the 1940s & 1950s

Ronald Reagan for Chesterfield cigarettes - Christmas 1951

“I Love Lucy” Philip Morris cigarettes as a Christmas gift (1953)

MORE: See what Lucille Ball had to say about her marriage to Desi Arnaz back in 1950

Dec 7, 1953 I Love Lucy cigarettes

Groucho Marx vintage ads for Old Gold cigarettes

“Will the gentleman who just coughed, step to the box office … for a package of Old Golds?”

“Of course, I have never said those words from the stage — but in all kindness, I have often wanted to offer this friendly help to some poor fellow whose cough was spoiling the enjoyment of those around him.

“A year or so ago, when the makers of Old Gold ran some ads on the effect of coughing in theatres, I was grateful. I am more grateful now that Old Gold has invited stage folk to help them bring first aid information to our unhappy friends the ‘coughers.’

“My advice is that prevention is the best aid. Smoke Old Golds. They soothe the throat and prevent the ‘cough-tickle.'” Signed, Groucho Marx

Old Golds are blended from Heart-Leaf tobacco, the finest Nature grows. Selected for silkiness and ripeness from the heart of the tobacco plant. Aged and mellowed extra long in a temperature of mid-July sunshine to ensure honey-like smoothness.

MORE: Groucho Marx: The zany ‘Hello, I Must Be Going’ song from ‘Animal Crackers’ (1930)

Groucho Marx vintage ads for Old Gold cigarettes

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball for Philip Morris cigarettes (1952)

Philip Morris is made differently from any other leading brand. And that difference is your guarantee of everything you’ve ever wanted in a cigarette… tasty mildness, rich flavor, pleasant aroma… a clean, refreshing smoke… and no cigarette hangover!

Sep 29, 1952 Desi Arnaz Lucille Ball - cigarettes

Vintage actor Bob Hope for Chesterfield cigarettes (1954)

“Thirty years’ scientific research goes into this cigarette. I’ve seen Chesterfield’s research laboratories and I’ve seen how they’re made! I wouldn’t smoke any other cigarette but Chesterfield!” — Bob Hope

Vintage actor Bob Hope for Chesterfield cigarettes (1954)

Jack Webb for Chesterfield cigarettes (1954)

“Like I tell you on Dragnet — smokers by the thousands now changing to Chesterfield… enjoying the one cigarette that’s highest in quality — low in nicotine.

“And remember, only our Chesterfields have this proven record with smokers. No adverse effects to the nose, throat, and sinuses from smoking Chesterfield. Both these statements are a matter of record.” — Jack Webb

ALSO SEE: Dragnet: Jack Webb’s popular 1950s police procedural (one of the first ever!) & its nostalgic reboot in 1967

Jack Webb for Chesterfield cigarettes (1954)

MORE: Vintage table lighters: The oh-so-trendy smoking accessory of the ’50s & ’60s

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t include the infamous Winston commercial featuring The Flintstones (to find it, just do an online search for “Flintstones cigarette commercial”). Like the ads you feature here, it almost looks like some kind of SNL parody — even more so since we today see the Flintstones as a kids’ cartoon, though it was originally broadcast in prime time for adults.

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