Robert Norris, better known as the Marlboro man, died last Sunday at his ranch in Colorado Springs, at 90 years of age. He is survived by two daughters and two sons, 13 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. His wife died in 2016 at the age of 88. the causes of his death are still unknown.
“Robert C. Norris, husband of the late Jane W. Norris, died in peace in the care of Pikes Peak Hospice on November 3, surrounded by his family,” his relatives wrote in a statement.
Norris became famous in the sixties when they started using his face in Marlboro brand ads in spectacular and magazines for twelve years. It was only enough to have a face full of decision, wear a cowboy hat and have a cigarette in his hand.
However, Norris did not touch a cigarette in his life, more than for advertising campaigns, because he never smoked, and after more than 10 years he gave up being the face of the cigar brand since he thought it was not a good example for the children
Norris was born in Chicago, Illinois, but moved away from his homeland to pursue his greatest dream: to be a cowboy. At age 18 he began raising horses at the age of 18, before moving to the state of Colorado. There, he bought his Tee Cross Ranches ranch in 1950, which grew to 63,000 acres (254.95 square kilometers).
During the fifties, cigars were aimed at women, and the advertising team, Leo Burnett Worldwide, was looking for an idea to try to sell it to men. It was in 1954 when the idea of the “Marlboro man” was created: a hard cowboy who smoked cigarettes outdoors.
The first images were of professional models, however, the company argued that for authenticity purposes they needed to find real cowboys to fill the paper.
It was there that fate played an important role, as executives met a photo of Norris posing with his good friend, actor John Wayne, in a newspaper. A short time later they went to look for him at his ranch in Colorado.
“They got out of their car, these guys in their striped suits, and approached Dad and said: ‘Would you like to be in Marlboro cigarette commercials?’ Why don’t you come back next week and, if you’re serious, we’ll talk? “They came back the following week,” Bobby Norris, son of the famous cowboy, told the KKTV news.
For advertising they took more than 2,000 photographs, and only some were distributed throughout the United States and the European continent.
“He always said to the children: ‘I don’t want to see you smoke again.’ Then, one of us finally asked: ‘If you don’t want us to smoke, why do you make cigarette commercials?’ Bobby Norris recalled.
Norris continued his work on the ranch where he liked to be so much, and raised his animals, and even adopted an elephant baby, Amy, who had been orphaned in Zimbabwe. The baby grew to weigh 4,000 pounds (1,814 kilograms) and lived at the Fresno Zoo in California.
According to the TMZ site, Norris was a popular figure in the town where he lived, as he was a well-known philanthropist and businessman, and also actively participated in helping several rodeo organizations.
Instead of donating flowers, the family asked for donations for a foundation that helps people with autism or the Tragedy Survivors Assistance Program (TAPS), which supports family members of veterans.
To celebrate his life, his relatives held an event on Friday, November 8 and was open to all audiences.