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Original ‘Marlboro Man’ Robert ‘Bob’ Norris Dies

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Robert “Bob” Norris, philanthropist, rancher and “The Original Marlboro Man” died at age 90 on Nov. 3 in Colorado Springs.

Norris passed away in the care of Pikes Peak Hospice surrounded by his family, according to his Tee Cross Ranches obituary.

Norris is most famous for appearing on television commercials as a tall, handsome cowboy, riding his horse while advertising Marlboro cigarettes.

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“If any man could be described in three words, for Bob they would be ‘the real deal,’” his obituary read. “His solid authenticity, whether astride a horse, sitting in a board room, mentoring a child or sharing a moment with a friend, was his personal and professional brand.”

“No doubt it was these qualities — along with his tall, ruggedly handsome, lanky good looks—that landed him the unexpected role of the first Marlboro Man on television.”

According to his son, Bobby Norris, the original Marlboro man never smoked a day in his life. Norris ultimately abandoned the advertising campaign after a conversation with his children.

“He always told us kids, ‘I don’t ever want to see you smoking,’ so one of us finally asked, ‘If you don’t want us smoking, why are you doing cigarette commercials?’” Bobby Norris said, according to KKTV/Gray News. “He called up Phillip Morris and quit that day.”

The Marlboro campaign was only a small part of the rancher’s life. He was a family man, cowboy and businessman at heart, with a deep love and respect for animals.

“He shared this love for animals in many ways, including special rides he arranged for disabled children, who for the first time were able to enjoy a transformative experience in the great outdoors,” his obituary read.

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Norris went into the horse and cattle business in 1950, when he purchased the T-Cross brand, which he later married with the purchase of a 20,000-acre ranch south of Colorado Springs, the T-Cross Ranch.

The ranch and business expanded over the years, with a second ranch added in Arizona. “After 69 years, the T-Cross Ranches have one of the most distinguished reputations in the industry, with well-established leadership in both Quarter Horse and cattle operations,” his obituary read.

Norris is survived by his four children, 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. Norris was influential in teaching his family to live a life based on integrity and honesty.

“There’s no gray area between right and wrong,” Norris said. “You do the right thing even if it costs you. You do the right thing.”

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