When Stalin wanted to kill John Wayne

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No this is not the title of a movie, but why this never was turned into a movie is beyond me.

Joseph Stalin wanted John Wayne gone so badly he sent two men to pose as FBI agents to take him down.It might come as a surprise that Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, man of steel, and murderer of millions, was quite the movie buff. He had a private theater in each one of his homes,and in his last years, the cinema became not only his favourite entertainment but also a source of political inspiration.

Stalin was so angered by John Wayne’s anti-communism that he plotted to have him murdered. He ordered the KGB to assassinate John Wayne because he considered him a threat to the Soviet Union.maxresdefault

When the Russian filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov attended a peace conference in New York in 1949 he heard about John Wayne and his anti-communist beliefs. When he returned to the Soviet Union he immediately told Stalin about John Wayne.

Wayne had previously clashed with the Communists because of his opinions, even receiving a threatening anonymous letter. When one of his friends advised him to be more cautious, the Duke declared “no goddamn Commie’s gonna frighten me.”john-wayne-assassination

The situation took a decidedly more serious turn, however, when the movie star attracted the attention of the Soviet dictator himself.

The alleged assassination attempt unfolded in the early 1950’s, just as the Communist scare in the United States was starting to peak.

Sources reported that after one of his routine film viewings, Stalin suddenly decided that Wayne was a direct “threat to the cause and should be assassinated.”

American agents also took the threat seriously enough to offer Wayne protection, to which he replied: “I’m not gonna hide away for the rest of my life, this is the land of the free and that’s the way I’m gonna stay.”

According to Wayne’s stuntman and real-life cowboy Yakima Canutt, the FBI foiled at least one assassination attempt with the help of the Duke himself.yakima-canutt

After getting word that two KGB agents posing as FBI agents were going to come to the movie studio where Wayne was filming and lure him away, the FBI and the actors decided to outflank them. When the Soviets came into Wayne’s office as expected, the actual FBI agents were hidden in a room next door and were able to burst in and subdue them at gunpoint. The Soviets were so terrified of being sent back to Russia and reporting to Stalin they had failed, that they willingly agreed to provide intelligence to the Americans.

Later, in 1953, Wayne was filming “Hondo” in Mexico when yet another communist cell tried to assassinate him.

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The Soviet campaign was canceled after Stalin’s death in 1953 because his successor Nikita Khrushchev was a fan of the film star. In a biography written by Michael Munn it says Krushchev told Wayne in a private meeting in 1958: “That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order.”

John and Joe

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“These are not the soldiers you are looking for” The Jedi in WWII

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This blog is about 2 men of whom you could say “They just don’t make them like that anymore” Both Christopher Lee and Sir Alec Guinness were formidable actors and both served in WWII.

Christopher Lee

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Famous for so many iconic roles like Dracula, Count Dooku in Star Wars prequels  and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. And lets not forget Christopher Lee was also an accomplished Heavy Metal performer and recording artist. However he showed his true grit in WWII.

In an interview with the Independent he said “When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime,”

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When the Second World War broke out, Lee volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War in 1939.He and other British volunteers were kept away from actual fighting, but they were issued winter gear and were posted on guard duty a safe distance from the front line.

Christopher Lee enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940, where he worked as an intelligence officer specializing in cracking German ciphers . In North Africa he was attached to the Long Range Desert Patrol, the forerunner of the SAS,

As an intelligence officer attached to No. 260 Squadron RAF, he reportedly prevented a small mutiny after troops – frustrated and lacking news from the eastern front – threatened to break ranks.

For a while he was assigned to the Long Range Desert Group.

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For the final few months of his service, Lee, who spoke fluent French and German, among other languages, was seconded to the Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects Here, he was tasked with helping to track down Nazi war criminals.Of his time with the organisation, Lee said: “We were given dossiers of what they’d done and told to find them, interrogate them as much as we could and hand them over to the appropriate authority … We saw these concentration camps. Some had been cleaned up. Some had not.” He retired from the RAF in 1946 with the rank of flight lieutenant, and later again Jedi Master and Sith Lord.

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Sir Alec Guinness

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Sir Alec Guinness(center row third from right in the picture above) was one of the most versatile actors of all time. His genres included comedy,drama and science fiction. Probably most known for his portrayal as Ben Kenobi aka Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars Trilogy.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai is one of my favourite WWII movies, actually one of my favourite movies overall and it is mainly because of Alec Guinness’s convincing portrayal of Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson that makes the movie so compelling.

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Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born to mother Agnes Cuff and an unknown father in Britain in 1914.

Guinness served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in the Second World War,download initially as a seaman in 1941, before receiving a commission as a Temporary Sub-lieutenant on 30 April 1942 and a promotion to Temporary Lieutenant the following year.[Guinness then commanded a landing craft at the Allied invasion of Sicily, he aslo saw action in the , the invasion of Elbe,and Normandy and later ferried supplies and agents to the Yugoslav partisans in the eastern Mediterranean theatre.

During the war, he was granted leave to appear in the Broadway production Flare Path, which was a play about the RAF Bomber Command.

 

Two heroes on and off screen.

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The humour of Laurel and Hardy

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Today is the 53 rd anniversary of the passing away of Stan Laurel, time to look back at some of the wonderful and funny moments he and his ‘Partner in Crime’ delivered for our entertainment.

The power of the humour of Laurel and Hardy is that it did not date, it is still as fresh today as it was then.

Here are just some of their classic lines, very dry but very funny.

From ‘Another Fine Mess’

Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “Huh” Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “You’re a Cab”

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From Sons of the Desert

Ollie: You’d better take my temperature….. get that thermometer.
Stan: The what?
Ollie: Thermometer! You’ll find it on the shelf.
(Stan places the thermometer into Ollie’s mouth and starts to take his pulse)
Ollie: What does it say?
Stan: Wet and windy.

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From Way out West.

Lady “What did he die off” Stan ” I think he died of a Tuesday”

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From Brats

Stan “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led.”

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Recasting Movies-What if?

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I have never made a movie but I am a movie buff. It is hard to cast movies, not every actor is suited to every movie.

I do have a theory of ‘ Stand-by’ actors which is purely and solely based on my own imagination, what I mean whit ‘stand-by’ actors is , when a studio doesn’t get the actor they want for a movie or if their budget isn’t big enough to hire a big movie star, they hire an actor that looks like the star. For example, I have seen movies which I thought were suited for Nick Nolte, but Gary Busey was cast instead,

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Another example would be Mel Gibson and Aidan Quinn.

But again this is purely my own theory there is no back up for this.

Recently I came across some movie posters of classic and more modern movies with a completely new cast on them. I don’t know who made the posters but they are fantastic and it make you wonder, if you could back in time and shoot a movie who would you pick to play in it. What if you could remake a movie with a different cast, would it work?

Hell Boy with Sly Stallone

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Scanners with Frank Sinatra

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A new(old) ensemble cast for Watchmen

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Blade Runner with Bogart and Brando

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Not David Bowie but Jimi Hendrix in Labyrinth

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Dean Martin, Jack Lemon and Jerry Lewis in The Hangover.

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Goodbye Martin Crane-RIP John Mahoney

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John Mahoney, the veteran actor best known for his role as Martin Crane in the TV comedy series Frasier, has died in the US at the age of 77. He passed away on Sunday in his adopted hometown of Chicago after a brief hospitalisation.

Born into an Irish family in Blackpool, Lancashire, Mahoney emigrated to the US as a teenager to join his sister.

Mahoney, the seventh of eight children, was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England on June 20, 1940.The family was evacuated to Blackpool from the Mahoneys’ home city of Manchester, when it was heavily bombed during the Second World War.

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He started school at St Joseph’s College, Blackpool. After the war, the Mahoneys moved back to Manchester. Mahoney grew up in the Withington area of the city and discovered acting at the Stretford Children’s Theatre. His Irish father, Reg, was a bakerwho played classical piano, and his mother, Margaret, was a housewife who loved reading. His parents’ marriage was not happy and they either would not speak to each other or have heated arguments. The family situation, combined with the war, fuelled Mahoney’s interest in acting and he vowed to leave Manchester.

Mahoney moved to the United States as a young man when his older sister, Vera, a war bride living in rural Illinois, agreed to sponsor him. He studied at Quincy University, Illinois, before joining the United States Army to speed up the U.S. citizenship process; he received citizenship in 1959.He lived in Macomb, Illinois, and taught English at Western Illinois University in the early 1970s,before settling in Forest Park, Illinois, and later in Oak Park, Illinois. He served as editor of a medical journal through much of the decade.

The actor only got into the profession in his late 30s after he returned to Manchester and saw Albert Finney and Leo McKern in Uncle Vanya. When he came back to Chicago he took an acting class which was run by David Mamet. The playwright and John Malkovich eventually convinced Mahoney to join the Steppenwolf group alongside the likes of Laurie Metcalf, Joan Allen and Gary Sinise.

 

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The actor played in a great number of movies, stage plays and TV Shows. But he will always be remembered as Martin Crane, retired cop and father of Psychiatrists Niles and Frasier Crane.

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We could not mention Martin Crane without mentioning his 4 legged companion, Eddie.

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For 11 seasons you made us laugh. There has not been one bad episode. Although your lines were always witty . funny and often sarcastic they were also sometimes very touching and profound.

Martin Crane thank you for all the laughs. John Mahoney thanks for being a great actor. let’s hope you can fulfill your dreams wherever you are now.

Rest in Peace.

Ending with one of my favourite scenes.

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Where eagles dare- The story of Ingrid Pitt aka Heidi

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I don’t know how often I have watched this movie but it is one of my favourite war movies.It is funny though that you never really know anything about the real lives of actors or actresses. You may know something about the big stars in movies, but when it comes to the people who play the smaller parts, you just know nothing about them.

Ingrid Pitt (born Ingoushka Petrov) survived World War II and became a well-known actress on the East Berlin stage, however, she did not appear on screen until well into her twenties.

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Ingoushka Petrov was born in Warsaw, Poland, to a German father of Russian descent and a Polish Jewish mother.During World War II, she and her family were imprisoned in Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo, Free City of Danzignow present-day Nowy Dwór Gdański County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland.

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She survived, and in Berlin, in the 1950s, married American soldier, Laud Roland Pitt Jr. and moved to California. After her marriage failed, she returned to Europe, but after a small role in a film, she took the shortened, stage name, “Ingrid Pitt” and headed to Hollywood, where she worked as a waitress while trying to make a career in films.

In the early 1960s, Pitt was a member of the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, under the guidance of Bertolt Brecht’s widow Helene Weigel. In 1965, she made her film debut in Doctor Zhivago, playing a minor role. In 1968, she co-starred in the low-budget science-fiction film The Omegans, and in the same year, played British spy, Heidi Schmidt in Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

But she was best known as Hammer Films’ most seductive female vampire ,Countess Dracula, of the early 1970s, the Polish-born Pitt possessed dark, alluring features and a sexy figure that made her just right for Gothic horror.

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She also played in “The Wicker Man” and several episodes of “Dr Who”But I will always remember her as Heidi Schmidt in “Where Eagles Dare”

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Carole Lombard-the death of a Legend

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On January 16 in 1942, the actress Carole Lombard, famous for her roles in such screwball comedies as My Man Godfrey and To Be or Not to Be, and for her marriage to the actor Clark Gable, is killed when the TWA DC-3 plane she is traveling in crashes en route from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. She was 33.

When the U.S. entered World War II at the end of 1941, Lombard traveled to her home state of Indiana for a war bond rally with her mother, Bess Peters, and Clark Gable’s press agent, Otto Winkler. Lombard was able to raise over $2 million in defense bonds in a single evening.

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Her party had initially been scheduled to return to Los Angeles by train, but Lombard was anxious to reach home more quickly and wanted to fly by a scheduled airline. Her mother and Winkler were both afraid of flying and insisted they follow their original travel plans. Lombard suggested they flip a coin; they agreed and Lombard won the toss.

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In the early morning hours of January 16, 1942, Lombard, her mother, and Winkler boarded a Transcontinental and Western Air Douglas DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) aircraft to return to California.

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After refueling in Las Vegas, TWA Flight 3 took off at 7:07 p.m. and around 13 minutes later, crashed into “Double Up Peak” near the 8,300-foot (2,530 m) level of Potosi Mountain, 32 statute miles (51 km) southwest of Las Vegas. All 22 aboard, Lombard and her mother included, plus fifteen army servicemen, were killed instantly.

Warning beacons that might have helped guide the pilot had been blacked out because of fears about Japanese bombers, and the plane smashed into a cliff near the top of Potosi Mountain. Search parties were able to retrieve Lombard’s body, and she was buried next to her mother at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, under a marker that read “Carole Lombard Gable.”

Hysterical with grief and adrift in the empty house he had shared with Lombard, Gable drank heavily and struggled to complete his work on Somewhere I’ll Find You. He was comforted by worried friends, including the actress Joan Crawford. That August, Gable decided to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

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He spent most of the war in the United Kingdom, and flew several combat missions (including one to Germany), earning several decorations for his efforts. He would remarry twice more, but when he died in 1960 Gable was interred at Forest Lawn, next to Lombard.

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Paul Newman Race driver

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Paul Newman is one of my all time favourite actors. You sometimes here people say “They just don’t make ’em like that anymore” this definitely applies to Paul Newman.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is still one of my favourite movies(even despite that bizarre bicycle scene)

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But Paul Newman was so much more then just an actor aside from entrepreneur, philanthropist he was also an accomplished race driver.

From the 1970s onward, Newman became a driver for the Bob Sharp Racing Team, and was even inducted into the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame.

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Despite being colorblind, Newman won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open-wheel IndyCar racing.

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Newman began racing cars in 1972, three years after completing the movie “Winning,” in which his character, Frank Capua, was a struggling race car driver who turned his career around by winning the Indianapolis 500.

The movie’s subplot involved a three-way love triangle between Capua, his wife Elora (played by Newman’s real-life spouse Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958) and rival Luther Erding, portrayed by Robert Wagner.The film grossed about $14 million. But what it did for Newsman’s second career was priceless

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Newman’s greatest accomplishment as a driver was a second-place finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in ’79, driving a Porsche 935. He remained active in endurance racing, making his last start at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in 2006 at the age of 81.

Newman was posthumously inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame at the national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 21, 2009.

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Kelsey Grammer- The story of a Hero.

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The man who made so many of us laughs(and still does) had so little to laugh about himself, but yet he remained positive. In my books that makes him a Hero.

Mostly known as Dr Frasier Crane in the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier, but he also appeared in “the X Men” “Star Trek-the next Generation” and produced the hit show “Medium”

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Most people are lucky enough to never experience having a loved one taken from them as a result of violence. Kelsey Grammer is not one of those people- his father was shot and killed and his sister was raped and brutally murdered.

Kelsey Grammer’s parents were divorced when he was 2 years old and his  father, Frank Grammer, owned a coffee shop and a bar-and-grill called Greer’s Place. His mother brought Kelsey and Karen back to her parents’ house in New Jersey where they were raised by their mother and grandfather. Unfortunately, his grandfather died when Kelsey was 11.

On April 25, 1968, a man named Arthur B. Niles set fire to Frank Grammer’s car outside the St. Thomas home he shared with his second wife, Elizabeth, and their four children (Betty, John, Billy and Stephen). When Frank Grammer went outside, Niles shot him twice. During the trial, Elizabeth Grammer testified that she pulled her husband’s body from in front of Niles’ car because he had threatened to run over him as well. Kelsey Grammer was only 13 years old at the time of his father’s murder.

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Niles was found not guilty of the murder by reason of insanity and spent several decades in a psychiatric ward. In 1994, he was assessed to no longer be a threat to society and was released. In November of 2002, a judge issued a restraining order against Niles which prevented him from seeing his son. In March 2003, Niles went back to prison after pleading guilty to threatening to kill that same judge.

Seven years later, when Kelsey was 20 years old, his younger sister, 18 year old Karen Grammer, was raped by four men and murdered by Freddie Lee Glenn.

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On July 1, 1975. Glenn, Corbett, and two other men decided to rob the Red Lobster restaurant on South Academy Boulevard. They left without any money, but on their way out they grabbed Karen Grammer,  who worked there and was waiting for her boyfriend to get off work, because they feared she could identify them.karen_grammerAfter robbing a convenience store, the men took Grammer to the apartment they shared, where they raped her repeatedly. They promised to take her home, then sat her in the car, put a cloth over her head and let her out in a mobile home park on South Wahsatch Avenue. Then Glenn, who, according to court testimony, had taken LSD, stabbed her in the throat, back and hand, and left her to die. In a desperate attempt to save herself, she ran toward the back porch of a nearby home where there was a light, but the homeowners were out. She died there, leaving bloody hand prints and fingerprints where she tried to reach the doorbell for help. Police photographs show a bloody hand print on the wall, inches from the doorbell. Police did not know her name for a week, until her brother Kelsey Grammer arrived to identify the body.

Glenn was convicted in 1976 for the murders of Van Lone, Profitt and Grammer. Judge Hunter Hardeman, noting “there was no rhyme or reason for what happened,” sentenced Glenn to the gas chamber for Grammer’s murder. Two years later, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the state’s death penalty. When Glenn was sentenced, the law allowed parole after a convict served 10 years, so he became eligible. Because two of his sentences were to be served consecutively, Corbett became eligible in 1996. All his parole appeals have been denied to date

Alas the tragedies didn’t stop after the murder of Karen.Five years after Karen’s murder, on June 1, 1980, both of Kelsey Grammer’s half brothers died unexpectedly. Stephen and Billy were scuba diving off of St. Thomas at the time. When Billy failed to resurface, Stephen went back in after him but died of a fatal embolism during an improper ascent that followed. Billy’s body was never recovered.

Kelsey did also suffered  alcohol and cocaine addictions.He credits his religion and Alcoholics Anonymous for helping him through with his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, as well as his personal tragedies.

The most amazing thing to come out of all these deaths is not the unreal amount of tragedy, but Kelsey’s ability to cope and prosper. He’s admitted to how painful these harsh realities felt, especially at such a young age, but he has refused to let bitterness consume him.

And even more astounding he has forgiven the killer of his sister. In a BBC 4 interview a few days ago he said “I have learnt to forgive. I have even told the guy I forgive him, although I don’t advocate his freedom. I don’t think that is reasonable.”

 

Kelsey on Radio

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Smoke gets in your eyes

Children from the past.

I never smoked, really only because I did not see the fascination of spending an enormous amount of money to see something go up in smoke.

However most of my family were or still are smokers and I do feel sorry for smokers. I do think they get a bad press. Yes, smoking is bad for you but what chance did the smokers have with so many people making it look cool.

If I was a smoker I don’t think I could have resisted the temptation. Here are just some historical pictures of people,mostly famous, who made smoking look cool.

Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, with a tame Raven shown helping her indulge a bad habit.

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Young Drew Barrymore

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Models learning proper cigarette smoking technique in practice for TV ad. 1953

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Jack Nicholson & Sean Penn

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Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, Mogambo, 1953

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I mean Steve McQueen on a bike smoking a cigarette, how cool is that. Yes I know it’s bad and can kill you but with images like that what chance does a smoker have.

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This is the Marilyn Monroe pic that obviously inspired Lana Del Rey.

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Michael Caine and Natalie Wood

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Humphrey Bogart Lauren Bacall.

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I do not want to trivialize the dangers of smoking because the dangers are real, but too often smokers and particularly smokers of an older generation are being preached to, where they should be educated.

They grew up in an era where smoking was perceived to be cool as per their screen idols, and I do feel sorry for them because often this is the last vice they may have and they are being crucified for it.