AndyM108

Did any leading actors or actresses in Hollywood's Golden Age NOT smoke in their movies?

179 posts in this topic

I just watched the dark comedy Thank You For Smoking, and the arch-villain Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) makes the (correct) observation that the smoking boom in the 1910's and 1920's had three primary causes:

1. World War I, where the free cigarettes shipped to soldiers created a whole new generation of youngish male smokers

2. Dieting, where George Washington Hill's "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet" campaign scared a whole generation of women into substituting smokes for bon bons.

3. Movies, where cigarettes in the hands of gangsters and society swells alike cemented the idea that Smoking Is Cool and Smoking Is Sophisticated into the minds of millions of moviegoers.

That last point, though, got me to thinking, and I'm throwing this question out to the Forum:  Were there ANY prominent leading actors or actresses in the first 30-odd years of sound films who you'd NEVER see smoking?  I'm scratching my head, and about the only one I can think of, and even there I'm not 100% sure, was James Cagney.  Any others that anyone can think of?

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Andy, this is so weird. I thought about you and wondered why you haven't posted in a long time. The Noir discussions on the bds. made me think of you. Glad to see you back and pls. hang around :)

As far as non-smokers go, Did Shirley Temple smoke in her adult films, can't remember seeing her with a cigarette. probably the athletic types like Johnny Weissmuller and the good girl types, maybe Priscilla Lane or Joan Leslie ??????

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11 minutes ago, lavenderblue19 said:

Andy, this is so weird. I thought about you and wondered why you haven't posted in a long time. The Noir discussions on the bds. made me think of you. Glad to see you back and pls. hang around :)

Thanks, and I'll try to be more of a presence.  I stayed away for a long time because I was blocked from posting for reasons that were never explained, and when I finally got restored (again without notice) I'd simply gotten out of the habit of visiting.  The other reason is simply that I've now seen nearly every classic movie I've cared to see more than a few times, and I've just about run out of anything new to say about them. 😎

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11 minutes ago, AndyM108 said:

Thanks, and I'll try to be more of a presence.  I stayed away for a long time because I was blocked from posting for reasons that were never explained, and when I finally got restored (again without notice) I'd simply gotten out of the habit of visiting.  The other reason is simply that I've now seen nearly every classic movie I've cared to see more than a few times, and I've just about run out of anything new to say about them. 😎

Andy, I edited my post to name a few I thought may not have smoked in their films I'll add another one, even though she sang Smoke Gets In Your Eyes in Roberta, can't remember seeing Irene Dunne smoke in her films, the ones I mentioned above were Johnny Weissmuller, Joan Leslie, Priscilla Lane and Shirley Temple in her adult roles. I don't remember seeing any of them smoke in their films

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I couldn't recall Cagney smoking in the movies either but it's easy to google images of him doing so.

Here's the Fighting 69th, for example. I guess it was a reflection here of his defiance of authority if you look at the sign behind him.

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The better question might be did you ever see any top movie star not drinking alcohol in a movie.? Or not offering cocktails or or another alcoholic drink to friends and acquaintances when they came to see you?

With so many scenes in movies in bars and nightclubs you're bound to seeing a lot of smoking and drinking in the movies, even during prohibition.

Drinking seem to be not just an upper-class thing but also a middle-class hospitable thing as well.

I get terribly amused when I hear people today shocked that there was smoking in the movies. There was smoking in the society, so I can imagine you can see that there was smoking in the movies, as well.

For sure, Eleanor Powell the top tap dancer at MGM in the thirties probably never smoked in real life or in the movies.

Anybody else, I couldn't say.

But in my real life, people were inundated with cigarette television commercials, cigarette magazine ads and cigarette Billboards everywhere. They even gave cigarettes out free on the streets during rush hour and noon hour.

Yeah, I would say the majority of people that I knew or associated with or worked with didn't smoke.

It was a large minority of people and they were addicts who smoked constantly.

The most prominent smoker in the movies was Bette Davis. It was disgusting when the US Postal Service honored her with a stamp in her "All About Eve" costume that they blanked out the cigarette between her fingers. That's really trying to change history isn't it?

Miss Davis was a lifetime chain-smoker who lived to be 81 years old, dying in Paris of breast cancer. After having surgery for her breast cancer, she suffered several Strokes. But reportedly she Still Smoked about 100 cigarettes a day.

One of her most memorable movies included the famous cigarette scene with Paul Henreid in "Now Voyager".

My guess is just like in my real life, most movie stars were probably not Chainsmokers like Miss Bette Davis.

The only big movie star who comes to mind who died from heavy smoking and heavy drinking with esophageal cancer early on was Humphrey Bogart. But I'm sure there were a few others who had lung cancer, as well.

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IMDb says that Laraine Day never smoked in her movies or in real life because of her Mormon faith. I've heard that Grace Kelly refused to smoke in her movies but for some reason she did in Rear Window. I wonder why.

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21 minutes ago, lavenderblue19 said:

Pretty sure Doris smoked in Romance On The High Seas and Julie

REALLY?!

I AM SHOCKED!

(genuinely)

I bet she tried to light the filter end.

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10 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

The only big movie star who comes to mind who died from heavy smoking and heavy drinking with esophageal cancer early on was Humphrey Bogart. But I'm sure there were a few others who had lung cancer, as well.

A quick googling reveals that Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan,Suzanne Pleschette, John Cazale, Zeppo Marx, Patricia Neal, Anne Shirley, Woody Strode, Franchot Tone, E. G. Marshall, Lloyd Nolan, Dean Martin, Vincent Price, Gary Cooper, Chuck Conners, Don Knotts, Buster Keaton, Audrey Meadows, Glenda Farrell, Lionel Stander, Gary Merrill, Yul Brenner, Betty Grable, Jean Simmons, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Roddy McDowell, Desi Arnaz, Moe Howard, Jason Robards, Jr., James Whitmore, Signe Hasso, Louis Hayward, Duncan Renaldo, Allan Jones, George Peppard, Steve McQueen, and I Think You Get The Message all died of lung cancer.
 

Quote

Cigarettes will spoil your life,
Ruin your health, and ruin your baby.
The poor little innocent child...
They're so mild, they're so mild.......



---Carl Sandburg

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Yes and I remember her smoking in Julie too!! Actually, Doris was a smoker in real life and drank too, until she became a Christian Scientist

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Janet Gaynor was in Lucky Strikes advertisements. But can anyone recall her smoking in a film?

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I'm also thinking about Jane Powell, just not sure, did she smoke in Royal Wedding, that's the only film I can think of that Jane may have smoked in.

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Cyd Charisse had to be taught how to smoke for “Singin’ in the Rain.” I do not recall seeing her smoke in later films.

Did Debbie Reynolds smoke in her movies?

 

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3 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Cyd Charisse had to be taught how to smoke for “Singin’ in the Rain.” I do not recall seeing her smoke in later films.

Did Debbie Reynolds smoke in her movies?

 

Yes, Debbie definitely smoked in Goodbye Charlie.

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2 minutes ago, lavenderblue19 said:

Yes, Debbie definitely smoked in Goodbye Charlie.

Thanks. I haven't seen that film yet.  Was it Debbie that was supposed to have her own TV show but lost the show because the sponsor was supposed to be a Cigarette sponsor? 

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38 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

OMG, DORIS!!!!!

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LOL. She did smoke in real life when young, then gave it up.

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As someone who doesn't smoke, has never smoked a day in my life, and thinks that cigarettes are abhorrent in every manner...

I think that the smoking looks really hot in the context of the old black and white movies.  Yes, you'd probably instantly develop emphysema walking into the middle of a party in classic film, and I know I'd be sick after 1 highball of straight booze, but damn if it doesn't look cool.

In real life, if I lived in that classic Hollywood world with all the smoking, I'd be either avoiding everyone or holding  a mask over my face and/or deeply regretting my attendance at the party.  If Errol were there however... I'd feel conflicted.  Maybe if he just points his cigarette and smoke downwind from me.  

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1 hour ago, lavenderblue19 said:

 

Andy, I edited my post to name a few I thought may not have smoked in their films I'll add another one, even though she sang Smoke Gets In Your Eyes in Roberta, can't remember seeing Irene Dunne smoke in her films, the ones I mentioned above were Johnny Weissmuller, Joan Leslie, Priscilla Lane and Shirley Temple in her adult roles. I don't remember seeing any of them smoke in their films

Yes, I don't recall Irene Dunne ever smoking in films. And it would make sense that dancers like Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller wouldn't smoke either.

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37 minutes ago, lavenderblue19 said:

Yes and I remember her smoking in Julie too!! Actually, Doris was a smoker in real life and drank too, until she became a Christian Scientist

Along the lines of someone with a Doris Day like image, Mary Tyler Moore was also a smoker and drinker in real life too.  She smoked during the run of Mary Tyler Moore, but did not want Mary Richards to smoke, because she felt a sense of shame about her habit.  In the 80s, MTM had to check herself into the Betty Ford clinic for alcoholism. 

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2 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Yes, I don't recall Irene Dunne ever smoking in films. And it would make sense that dancers like Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller wouldn't smoke either.

I'm really surprised that Gene Kelly was a smoker.  You'd think a smoking habit would make it difficult to keep up the stamina needed for his style dancing. 

Donald O'Connor was also a heavy smoker.

I do not know if Fred Astaire was a smoker.

In real life, Ginger Rogers neither smoked nor drank. 

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13 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Thanks. I haven't seen that film yet.  Was it Debbie that was supposed to have her own TV show but lost the show because the sponsor was supposed to be a Cigarette sponsor? 

Speedy, to answer your question this is a quote from the New York Post about Debbie.

Despite her well-earned reputation for being adorable, though, burnished in movies like “The Tender Trap” and “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis,” Reynolds showed a dedication to principle rarely seen in Hollywood before or since: Having learned to smoke for a role and become helplessly addicted to cigarettes in the process, she insisted tobacco advertisers be kept away from her 1969 NBC sitcom.

When the network ran cigarette ads anyway, she walked away from the show. “It cost me millions,” she later recalled. That was Debbie Reynolds. America’s Sweetheart was no pushover.

 

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2 minutes ago, lavenderblue19 said:

Speedy, to answer your question this is a quote from the New York Post about Debbie.

Despite her well-earned reputation for being adorable, though, burnished in movies like “The Tender Trap” and “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis,” Reynolds showed a dedication to principle rarely seen in Hollywood before or since: Having learned to smoke for a role and become helplessly addicted to cigarettes in the process, she insisted tobacco advertisers be kept away from her 1969 NBC sitcom.

When the network ran cigarette ads anyway, she walked away from the show. “It cost me millions,” she later recalled. That was Debbie Reynolds. America’s Sweetheart was no pushover.

 

Interesting.  I'd heard this anecdote before, but I didn't realize that it was because Debbie herself had taken up smoking.  I thought she was just very anti-smoking.

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