Vintage Stars Got Big Bucks to Smoke

Big tobacco paid a fortune for promotion in Hollywood's golden age
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2008 8:47 AM CDT
Anti-tobacco groups say movies like "Casablanca" help to glamorize smoking.   (Archive Photos)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Almost all of Hollywood's big names from the '30s, '40s, and '50s were on the payroll of tobacco companies, the BBC reports. Documents released as part of anti-smoking lawsuits reveal that stars like Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, and Joan Crawford got up to $10,000 each from Lucky Strike in 1937—equivalent to $150,000 per head in today's money.

Researchers say the money tobacco companies poured into Hollywood during the old days is still paying them dividends now, as smoking imagery in classic films like Casablanca encourages young people to take up the habit. An anti-smoking group says that while it may be impossible to completely outlaw smoking in films, clearer warnings at the start of movies would be a step in the right direction.