COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The man known as the original Marlboro Man died in Colorado Springs on Nov. 3. Robert Norris, 90, was a longtime rancher and well-known philanthropist.

Robert Norris (credit: CBS)

Norris’ son, Bobby, says his dad was a cowboy at heart which helped him get the Marlboro gig.

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He says ad executives saw him in a newspaper picture with his longtime friend and actor John Wayne.

They tracked Norris down at his ranch south of Colorado Springs.

(credit: CBS)

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“They walked out of their car, these guys in their pinstripe suits, and they walked up to dad and they said ‘How would you like to be in commercials?’ and he said, ‘for Marlboro cigarettes’ and he said, ‘Well, I’m kind of busy right now. Why don’t you come back next week, and if you’re serious we will talk.’ And they did and they came back the next week,” said Bobby Norris.

The commercials launched a 12-year acting career for Norris. It ended because Norris didn’t want his kids to start smoking.

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Bobby says his father always tried to do the right thing. A celebration of life for Norris was held on Friday at the Norris Penrose Stadium which is named for him.