One example of the way tobacco companies and movie theaters worked together is Philip Morris’s spokesman, “Little Johnny,” a short-statured bellhop who appeared in trailers before and after movies. A fixture in theaters, he encouraged patrons to return the following week to receive gifts and special offers. Fire safety signs featuring Little Johnny were also placed in hotel and hospital rooms warning patrons not to smoke in bed.
In the golden age of cinema nobody took smoking too seriously. We can learn a lot about our culture by looking at depictions of smoking in movies. It was perfectly natural and normal. There were very few moments during the era prior to the 1960s when smoking was even questioned. Whenever there was any kind of finger-wagging about smoking, it was done almost as a joke. It was a symbol of pleasure, just as the movie theater was all about pleasure.
Contrast this bygone attitude with the demands by some vocal present-day anti-smoking activists that the smoking scenes in classic movies and TV shows be edited out. They do not seem to realize that there have been more than 800 depictions of smoking in The Simpsons alone, many of which make fun of cigarettes and Big Tobacco.