PR Marlboro Man actor dies of lung disease Eric Lawson, who was the iconic character in a series of ads in the 1970s, died of COPD. Philip Morris, the makers of Marlboro cigarettes, has yet to issue any statement. By Matt WilsonJan. 27, 2014 SHARE To read the full story, log in. Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content. Sign up today Already a member? Log in here. Learn more about Ragan Insider.