Film: Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1937) Studio: Paramount Tobacco brand: Lucky Strike
Claudette Colbert served three cigarette companies while under contract to Paramount Pictures. This Lucky Strike ad plugs Paramount's 1937 film Bluebeard's Eighth Wife. While Paramount received free advertising, Colbert was paid $10,000 in advertising fees, worth more than $150,000 today. (American Tobacco agreements, 1937-8) Lucky Strike ads also plugged two other Paramount films starring Colbert in 1937: Maid of Salem and I Met Him in Paris. Paramount is now part of Viacom; American Tobacco merged into Reynolds American.
Film: Down to Earth (1947) Studio: Columbia Tobacco brand: Chesterfield
Hayworth, a screen siren, was portrayed as a smoker in films including Gilda (1946) and The Lady from Shanghai (1947). "I used to have to punch a time clock at Columbia," she later complained. "Every day of my life. Honey, I was under exclusive contract—like they owned me. Pose with that head of state, that kinda soap, this kind of cigarettes...and they get the stuff! I never saw any soap!"
Film: Man-Proof (1938) Studio: MGM Tobacco brand: Lucky Strike
Myrna Loy, co-star of The Thin Man film series, was voted a Top 10 moneymaker by US theater owners in 1937 and in 1938. Paid $10,000 by American Tobacco (more than $150,000 in todays dollars) Loy signed a testimonial text: "It's always easy for me to get a Lucky Strike from Joan Crawford or Clark Gable, or even most of the newcomers to the studio...So, all in all, you can see I'm really enthusiastic."
Film: Unconquered (1947) Studio: Paramount Tobacco brand: Chesterfield
Gary Cooper was paid more than $150,000 (in today's money) to endorse American Tobacco's Lucky Strike brand in 1937 and 1938. By the late 1940s, he was appearing in advertising for Chesterfield (Liggett & Myers, now an Altria brand).
Film: Jezebel (1938) Studio: Warner Bros. Tobacco brand: Lucky Strike
Bette Davis personally edited her endorsement agreement with the tobacco company. This tabloid ad also mentions other actors under contract to Warner Bros., who purportedly share Lucky Strikes with Davis "at the studio lunch room."
Film: Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958) Studio: CBS Tobacco brand: Viceroy
In the early 1950s, when TV overtook radio and cut into Hollywood's box office, tobacco companies began producing or sponsoring shows on the three national networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) including variety shows, Westerns and detective dramas. Steve McQueen starred in Wanted: Dead or Alive from 1958 to 1961. By 1970, tobacco commercials were barred from TV and radio in the United States.
Film: Hong Kong (1952) Studio: Paramount Tobacco brand: Chesterfield
While Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild (1947-52), he also appeared in Chesterfield cigarette ads. In 1948, Reagan plugged Chesterfield and another Warner Bros. movie, The Voice of the Turtle. Actress Jane Wyman, married to Reagan at the time, is seen in her own Chesterfield ads.
Film: Test Pilot (1938) Studio: MGM Tobacco brand: Lucky Strike
Tracy received at least $10,000 (more than $150,000 in today's money) from American Tobacco. His Lucky Strike cigarette ads also plugged the MGM films Captains Courageous and Mannequin in 1937. Tracy died of lung and heart disease at 67.