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He Lit Up a Room

July 15, 2007 9:00 PM

Say what you will about the dangers of smoking, a lifetime of puffing away didn’t seem to do much to cut things short for veteran character actor (and ’60s TV staple) Charles Lane, who died last week at the ripe old age of 102. Back in Charlie’s salad days—when he was merely in his late 80s—a severely nicotine-addicted writer Blink knows had occasion to interview him at his home in Brentwood, and after 45 minutes of intense questioning was dying for a cigarette—but didn’t dare light up in a closed room with an octogenarian in it. Just as the scribe was about to call for a bathroom break in order to slip outside for a couple of hits, Charlie opened the desk drawer, pulled out a pack of Pall Malls and asked, "Do you mind if I smoke?" In the obituaries last week, his son Tom noted Charlie smoked a pack a day for 70 years, quitting only when he became short of breath. "I know that smoking kills people, and I must be the exception," Charlie said at the time that he quit. Well, yeah.

--Tom Gilbert

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