The Selling of John Wayne … Smoke … Part 1


sunday morning coming down / kristofferson

“Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire”, the old saying goes.
And sometimes death.

Smoking Roulette / composite image I created. 


Smoking is a lot like Russian Rollette.
You know there’s a bullet in there.
But you’re gambling that it doesn’t have your name on it.

It’s a hell of a gamble.
A gamble that John Wayne lost.

20 cigs per pack

       John Wayne’s smoking exploits are as Legendary as he is. I’ve seen several different claims as to how much he smoked: 4, 5, 6 and 7 pack of cigarettes a day! Most claim 6 packs a day. I refuse to believe 7 because 7 packs of cigarettes a day is 7 x 20 cigarettes = 140 cigarettes in a 16 hour day (8 hours for sleep) – or 8.75 cigarettes an hour – which would be smoking
1 cigarette about every 7 minutes. That seems impossible.
Even for John Wayne.

I was a heavy smoker myself for quite a while – 2 packs of Canadian cigarettes a day – 25 cigs per pack. So I have some experience with this thing. When I finally quit, I coughed up tar for 6 months. Smoking is an extremely insidious addiction. Before I started smoking I very rarely caught flu or even a cold. After I started, I caught everything. Smoking seriously damages and devitalizes your whole immune system.
Don’t do it.


So lets’ see …
John smoked 6 packs a day x 20 cigarettes per pack = 120 cigarettes a day.

Could you smoke this many cigarettes a day?

Assuming John Wayne couldn’t smoke while he was asleep (?) and assuming he slept about 8 hours a day, that’s 120 cigarettes divided by 16 hours = he smoked about 7.5 cigs an hour. That’s a lot. But possible.

These are all Guesstimates, of course, but you get the picture:
John was an outright addict.

And even though John grew up in an era where smoking was portrayed as being debonair, sophisticated, suave and ‘cool’, it must have been very difficult to be around him due to this excessive smoking
– even if you were a smoker yourself.
And I’d guess it would pretty well be impossible for a non-smoker.


Strangely however, in most of his Westerns, John seems to smoke very little. ? Guns and Booze are plainly evident. But not cigs. ??? Though it surely wasn’t hard to catch him smoking ‘off camera’,  he rarely brought it to film. And even then, it didn’t seem overdone.

john-wayne-smoking-3 john-wayne-smoking-4 john-wayne-smoking-5 john-wayne-smoking-6

In advertising, John, of course, wasn’t the only celebrity who endorsed smoking. Dozens of Actors, Actresses – and even Athletes and Doctors endorsed smoking in that era. Magazine ads, TV commercials, radio ads, billboards … you name it.



I’m feeling a little Turkish today …


There’s controversy over how John ultimately came down with Cancer –
due to an urban legend about a film that had been shot
near an Atomic Bomb testing site.

John wasn’t falling for that and openly confessed his cancer
was the product of his excessive smoking habit.

But John wasn’t the only celebrity that was taken down by smoking.
Click on the link below and you’ll see:

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It’s a very long list:
Smoking and the Screen Celebrities
by Surinder K. Jindal

“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 … “,producer%20of%20Disney%20films%20had








Author: jcalberta

Howdy! I love Westerns. ... and the intent of is to celebrate Western Movies/Film - old and new. This site will eventually show my top 30 favorite Westerns - or more. I will have original graphic work with regular updates. All this - and more ... Yee Haw ... !! - jcablerta / Moderator / Administrator

6 thoughts on “The Selling of John Wayne … Smoke … Part 1”

    1. The Cancer from the ‘The Conqueror’ location is now regarded as an “Urban Myth”. Many of the supposed stats were fudged and later discounted. But the Myth had been around for SO LONG that it had become regarded as fact – simply because nobody had really bothered to check it all out. John himself pooped on it and candidly admitted it was his excessive smoking that did him in.

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