David Millar, one of the first of the rugged Marlboro Men who appeared in television cigarette advertisements in the 1950s, died Wednesday of emphysema. He was 81.
Millar, of Meriden, was the among the initial group of actors and models who wore cowboy garb and sat on horses to pitch Marlboro cigarettes, said Stephen Taylor, a neighbor.
Taylor said Millar smoked, but had quit about 20 years ago. He also quit horses after his early stints with Marlboro.
“They used to boost him up by a rope and put him down on the horse because he didn’t like horses,” said Charles Dudley, a longtime friend.
Dudley added that Millar often said he was “the only Marlboro Man who doesn’t smoke, drink or like horses.”
Although Millar had quit about 1965, he had smoked for “probably 40 to 45 years” before that, Dudley said.
After Millar, Marlboro gravitated toward more authentic cowboys and their more recent ads and billboards (cigarette advertising was banned on radio and television many years ago) use a group of 10 men, many of whom are actual cowboys or ranchers.
Born in St. Louis, Millar worked as an advertising executive in magazine publishing and modeled for fashion magazines, his wife, Maria, said.
In New Hampshire, where he had lived since retiring in 1961, he was an avid outdoorsman and active in civic and community affairs.