seal  Purdue News

May 22, 2003

Expert explains why smoking stirred Hollywood

A Purdue University pop culture expert can talk about why actress Nicole Kidman lighting up at a recent press conference has made waves in Hollywood and the media.

"Nicole Kidman is making cigarettes look sexy again," says Randy Roberts, an American history professor who is studying the history of cigarettes in Hollywood. "She won't change how Hollywood treats smoking, but when you see one of the world's most beautiful women smoking, it will get noticed. My guess is she did this to be provocative."

Cigarettes hit their high point in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s, Roberts says. But their mainstream role in Hollywood has dissipated since the 1960s U.S. Surgeon General's warning.

"Just look at the James Bond series, which spans decades. Over time the use of cigarettes has been eliminated," Roberts says.

CONTACT: Roberts, (765) 429-9870 or (765) 423-7711,