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Smoking and the Screen Celebrities

Lung India
Medknow Publications
Publication Date
DOI: 10.4103/0970-2113.44120
  • Editorial
  • Medicine


It is a strange paradox that screen celebrities, who were traditionally considered as responsible for popularizing smoking especially amongst the teens, have themselves suffered the most from the hazards of tobacco. The number of famous actors, directors, singers, producers and other cine-artists who have prematurely died or immensely suffered from tobacco related diseases are almost endless. The list of known celebrity-victims of tobacco is perhaps the biggest of all other similar lists. This was also responsible for one of the toughest ‘nail in the coffin’ for the tobacco trade -- at least in the United States. Hollywood actors and actresses Lucille Ball, Arnoz Desi, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Boone, Yul Brynner, Rose Cipollone, Gary Cooper, and many others had succumbed to lung or throat cancer, mostly in their 5th to 7th decades of life. Walt Disney, the famous creator of animated characters and producer of Disney films had died of acute circulatory collapse following surgery to remove his lung cancer. Jean Vander Pyl who acted in the famous cartoon series Flintstones, was also a similar victim. His son, Michael O'Meara had later said: “Everybody on the Flintstones smoked and all of them ended up dying of smoking related diseases….. That little cute laugh that Berry and Wilma did with their mouths closed ? They came up with that because when they laughed normally, being smokers, they coughed.” Jim Varney, the famous actor who died of lung cancer at age fifty was hopelessly hooked on cigarettes. But “he wouldn't allow himself to be photographed smoking for the sake of all the kids who loved Ernest.” And, though he entertained them by clowning, sprawling, grinning and cutting up, the talented Mr. Varney had one last message for those kids: ‘Don't smoke’. Back home in India, the ‘clown story’ is similar to that of the brilliant actor-producer Raj Kapoor of ‘Mera Nam Joker’ fame, who had developed emphysema of the lungs and died of respiratory failure. Numerous other people in the f

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