Cancer Man

Sinister government operative on the fantasy drama THE X-FILES/FOX/1993-2002. Constantly in a need of cigarette, Cancer Man (a.k.a. “The Cigarette Smoking Man”) did the biding of a secret cabal of anonymous men (“The Shadowy Syndicate”) and did whatever it took to keep “The Project” shrouded in secrecy. Cancer Man first spoke on episode No. 20 “Tooms.”


FBI agent Fox “Spooky” Mulder (David Duchovny) tried to bring these secrets to the light of day. In the heat of anger, Mulder once called Cancer Man, a “Black-Lunged Son of a Bitch.”

Cancer Man smokes cigarettes (Morley brand) because as he said: “You would too, if you had seen what I have seen” (He shot & killed JFK). One his more memorable quotes:

“Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctoral gift that no one ever asks for.  Unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So, you’re stuck with mostly undefinable whipped mint crap, mindlessly wolfed down when there’s nothing else to eat while you’re watching the game. Sure, once in a while you get a peanut butter cup or an English toffee but it’s gone too fast and the taste is fleeting. In the end, you’re left with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth shattering nuts, which if you are desperate enough to eat leaves nothing but an empty box of useless brown paper wrappers.”

Note: In February 1999, Cancer Man’s real name was revealed as C.G.B. Spender. In the climatic two-part series finale of THE X-FILES series, Spender, thought dead, resurfaced in a desert hideaway.

Even though he had lost his throat to cancer, Spender still puffed away on a cigarette through the hole in his neck as missiles from a helicopter gun ship rained down on his rocky retreat.

Actor  David Ducovny said that Cancer Man/The Cigarette Smoking was “like Nietzsche’s Socrates – he’s the rational man, saving the masses from their own imagination.”

A survey in TV Guide (8/17/1996) found 27.5 % of readers rated “The Cigarette-Smoking Man” (played by William B. Davis) as the nastiest villain on TV.

In an interview (Starlog No. 248 March 1998 p. 50) Davis prefers to be called “Il Fumatore,” the Italian translation.

Actually for his role, Davis (who quite smoking 20 years earlier) smoked an herbal nicotine free version of cigarette; they smoke like a pipe but burn quite hot.


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Police, Science Fiction, Supernatural

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