Washington, Sept 25 : Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Bob Hope, Henry Fonda and other stars of the 1930s and 1940s were paid millions of dollars in today's money for promoting cigarettes, according to a new research.
The researchers claim that the legacy of these deals can still be seen in the high profile given to smoking on today's cinema screens.
For the study, the research team accessed cigarette endorsement contracts between tobacco companies and studio-controlled movie stars, as well as adverts of the period, from university and major US newspaper archives.
The period under investigation covered the years 1927 to 1951, from the advent of talking motion pictures to the rise of television.
The research shows that in return for the paid testimonials of their stars in cigarette ads, major studios benefited from nationwide print and radio ads for themselves and their movies in lucrative "cross over" deals, paid for by tobacco companies.
The studios with the most "cross over" deals were Paramount and Warner Bros, with the peak of activity occurring in the early and late 1930s, particularly for Lucky Strike (American Tobacco) and in the 1940s for Chesterfield (Ligget and Myers).
And this was despite previous attempts to curtail the practice.
The research shows that almost 200 actors took part in the cigarette endorsements, including two thirds of the top 50 box office Hollywood stars from the late 1930s through to the 1940s.