Patrick Reynolds (activist)

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Patrick Reynolds
Patrick Reynolds 4759Print.jpg
Reynolds in 2020
Born (1948-12-02) December 2, 1948 (age 74)
Occupation(s)Actor, activist
Years active1977-1992
Spouse(s)Regine Wahl (1983[1]-1985[2])
Alexandra Reynolds (2007-present) (1 child)

Patrick Cleveland Reynolds (born December 2, 1948) is an American anti-smoking activist and former actor.

Born in Miami Beach, Florida,[3] he is the grandson of the tobacco company founder, R. J. Reynolds,[4] and speaks of how he believes his family business has killed millions, including his own father, R. J. Reynolds Jr., and half brother, R. J. Reynolds III.[2][5][6] He is a frequent speaker on the dangers of smoking, and founded a non-profit organization dedicated to anti-tobacco campaigning.

Social activism[edit]

I consider myself the white sheep of my family

Reynolds, 1986[3]

In April 1986, Reynolds went with a friend to a meeting with Senator Robert Packwood, where the issue of a proposed cut in tobacco tax was raised. Outraged, Reynolds stood up and asked why US tobacco taxes were so low.[2] By June 1986, Reynolds had become an anti-smoking activist, appearing in adverts for the American Lung Association and testifying before a congressional subcommittee at the invitation of Packwood,[7][8] to the dismay of his family. He had already sold his tobacco stock in 1979,[9] and tried to get hired by RJR Nabisco Inc. from 1983–85, in an attempt to get the company to divest their tobacco holding.[10] Reynolds was himself a smoker for 17 years until he quit in 1985 after over 10 years of trying.[7][8][11] He has appeared on many national television programs.

In 1989, Reynolds founded The Foundation for a Smokefree America.[4] That same year, Reynolds published The Gilded Leaf with Thomas Shachtman, chronicling three generations of his family and its tobacco business,[12][13] a book he had been working on since 1980.[2] The book was re-issued in 2006 (ISBN 0-595-83831-6). In 2007 he released an educational video on DVD of a tobacco prevention talk he gave titled The Truth About Tobacco.

Former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop M.D., called him "one of the nation's most influential advocates of a smokefree America."[14] He continues to speak on tobacco control to adult groups, and also gives motivational prevention talks before high school and elementary school audiences. He advised the Greek government on anti-smoking measures in 2009, and in 2011 was seeking sponsorship for a world tour.[15][16][17]

Relative to the friction within his family over his public campaign, he said in 2011 it has eased. "[S]ince 1986, the price of the stock kept going up. And as far as being an embarrassment, I received an award from the World Health Organization; I brought honor to the Reynolds family."[15]

Personal life[edit]

His mother was his father's second wife, actress Marianne O'Brien who appeared in the 1940s in films like The Very Thought of You, contracted to Jack L. Warner.[3] His parents separated when he was three and he did not meet his father again until he was nine. His father died five years later from emphysema aged 64,[18] leaving a will that disinherited Patrick and his brother and four half-brothers. He received $500,000 from his father's fourth wife in agreement not to contest the will.[12] He inherited $2.5 million from his grandfather in 1969, when he was 21.[10]

Having attended The Hotchkiss School, Reynolds studied filmmaking at the University of California[3] and the University of Southern California. He ventured into acting in 1975, during a visit to the set of Nashville. His live-in girlfriend, actress Shelley Duvall, had invited him to the set, and director Robert Altman cast him in a small non-speaking role. Reynolds subsequently studied acting at several Los Angeles schools; with Milton Katselas, classmates included Michelle Pfeiffer and Patrick Swayze. At the urging of his voice coach, he recorded three unreleased pop singles in 1982.[2] He married his first wife Regina Wahl in Ofterschwang, West Germany in July 1983,[1] quit acting and briefly began working for her father's international bus company. He returned to acting after being offered a lead role in Eliminators.[2] His mother died in 1985.[2] In 1986, he spoke out publicly for the first time against the tobacco industry. He remarried in 2007, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife Alexandra and their son, born in October 2009.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Millionaire Marries". Pittsburgh Press. 11 July 1983. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Mitchell, Greg (November 1988). "Fresh Heir". Mother Jones Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
  3. ^ a b c d e Scott, Vernon (13 February 1986). "Patrick Reynolds: Poor little rich actor". United Press International. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Patrick Reynolds Brings 'Truth About Tobacco' Nov.22". The Chattanoogan. 26 October 2005. Archived from the original on 2010-08-19. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  5. ^ Pool, Bob (15 July 1994). "Memorial Message : Tobacco Scion R.J. Reynolds III, an Emphysema Victim, Is Eulogized by His Brother, an Anti-Smoking Activist". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-02-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ a b Camili, Doug (14 July 1986). "Tobacco family scion to do anti-smoking ads". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Bucking the family". Pittsburgh Press. 25 June 1986. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  9. ^ Foster, R. Daniel (6 February 1992). "He supports a proposed ban on smoking in L.A. restaurants". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  10. ^ a b Minehart, Tom (17 August 1986). "Tobacco heir's fight has family fuming". The Associated Press. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  11. ^ Carelli, Richard (18 July 1986). "R.J. Reynolds' son urging Congress to ban tobacco ads". Associated Press. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  12. ^ a b Frizzi, Ginny (8 July 1989). "'Gilded Leaf' a revealing look at Reynolds tobacco clan". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 24 January 2010.[dead link]
  13. ^ Cooper, Andrea (20 August 1989). "In short; Non-fiction". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  14. ^ Anderson, Jon (18 May 1988). "A NEW LEAF A TOBACCO HEIR REJECTS THE LEGACY". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  15. ^ a b Lewis, Al,"Tobacco heir still battling his legacy",MarketWatch, December 14, 2011, 10:41 am EST. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
  16. ^ " | «Σύμμαχοι» οι καπνιστές στα νέα μέτρα". Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  17. ^ Primary source
  18. ^ Canellos, Peter S. (25 July 1986). "A TOBACCO HEIR IN THE ANTI-SMOKING CAMP". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 24 January 2010.

External links[edit]