|Most Famous Cigar Smokers
We all have it in our minds: the image of an avid cigar smoker. The image my brain generates is of someone looking relaxed, content in his refinement as the cigar dangles from his mouth like the lollypop of a happy child.
Perhaps the image in your mind equates cigars with yourself, the joy of the entire process: from busting out your credit card and buying a stash of your favorite Cohibas to whiling away the evening savoring their aroma. Or perhaps you equate them with a family member – a rich uncle puffing in between hardy laughs, a jolly aunt whose cigar covers up portions of unwanted facial hair. Whomever you equate with cigars, chances are you also equate them with someone famous.
So, how did we decide who deserved to be inscribed on a list of the most notable cigar smokers? Some of the choices were obvious. Many of the people on the list are practically inseparable from a cigar, people you automatically picture with a smoke, such as Groucho Marx and Alfred Hitchcock.
Regardless of their status, everyone on the list shares one trait: the love of a good cigar
The Top 10 Prominent Puffers
Throughout his long life, Churchill nourished England with his battlefield bravery, political courage and prolific writing, and nourished himself with the best food, drink and cigars he could find. The man for whom the imposing Churchill cigar size is named smoked eight to 10 cigars a day, primarily Cuban brand. Not even the necessity of wearing an oxygen mask for a high-altitude flight in a non-pressurized cabin could prevent Churchill from smoking. As the story goes, the prime minister requested that a special mask be created that would allow him to smoke while airborne. Naturally, the request was fulfilled. On another occasion, Churchill hosted a luncheon for King Ibn Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia, who did not allow smoking or drinking in his presence. Rather than submit to the king's wishes, Churchill pointed out that "my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." The king was convinced.
Favorite cigar: Romeo y Julieta
Until he gave up the habit in 1985, the man who has ruled Cuba with an iron fist for 40 years was synonymous with cigars. Only a rising national concern over the health risks of smoking would lead to Castro's unequivocal decision to stop smoking cigars, even in private, to set an example for his people. Just because he abandoned a pastime that he had relished for 44 years doesn't mean he doesn't still think about cigars. He would occasionally dream that he was smoking a cigar, though he would admonish himself for doing so. "Even in my dreams I used to think that I was doing something wrong," he said in a 1994 Cigar Aficionado interview. "I was conscious that I had not permitted myself to smoke anymore, but I was still enjoying it in my sleep." Years earlier, when Castro and the rebels were plotting how to topple the Batista regime, the only time he did without cigars was when he ran out of them. Anticipating those infrequent occasions, he would hoard his last smoke, lighting it only to celebrate a victory or console himself over a setback.
Favorite cigar: Cohiba Corona Especial
KING EDWARD VII
"Gentlemen, you may smoke." With those simple words, spoken shortly after his coronation in 1901, Britain's Edward VII ended the tobacco intolerance that had marked Queen Victoria's reign. Yet Edward's pro-cigar stance was nothing new. In 1866, as the high-living Prince of Wales, he had quit his London gentlemen's club over its no-smoking policy (the final straw was when a servant admonished him for lighting up). He took 20 percent of the membership with him, and they soon established a club where smoking was heartily encouraged
The author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn smoked at least 22 cigars a day, maybe as many as 40. Twain, nיe Samuel Clemens, supposedly once declared, "If smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go." Twain's penchant for cigars didn't necessarily mean he smoked the best cigars. He knew that even his closest acquaintances were reviled by his stogie selections. Once, as he would later relate in his essay "Concerning Tobacco," he pilfered a handful of costly and elegant cigars from a friend's house, removed the labels, and placed the smokes in a box identified by his favorite brand. He then invited the man and 11 other friends over for dinner, offering each a cigar afterward. Everyone shortly excused themselves, and the next morning Twain found the cigars sprawled outside--except for the one left on the plate of the man from whom the cigars had been filched. "He told me afterward that some day I would get shot for giving people that kind of cigars to smoke."
Favorite cigar: Anything except a Havana
JOHN F. KENNEDY
When you're the president of the United States, you can get just about anything you'd like. What the 35th president wanted in early 1962 was a bunch of Cuban cigars, 1,000 Petit Upmanns to be exact. He gave his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, less than 24 hours to round them up. Short notice for such a big request, but then JFK had a pressing reason for procuring the stash in such a timely fashion. He was about to sign an embargo prohibiting any Cuban products from entering the country, including his beloved cigars. The embargo was born of a nasty spat that the United States was having with Cuba and its fears that Fidel Castro represented a growing threat to America's security. But before Kennedy could act, he needed Salinger to complete his assignment. The press secretary didn't let him down, as he managed to scrounge up 1,200 cigars. Kennedy then signed the embargo, and Cuban tobacco has been off-limits to Americans ever since.
Favorite cigar: Petit Upmann
From an impromptu singing gig in a candy store at the age of seven, to his enduring partnership with Gracie Allen, to solo stand-up comedy acts into his late 90s, Burns kept American audiences in stitches through most of the twentieth century. Invariably, he smoked his trustworthy El Producto cigars during his act, not because he couldn't afford a more expensive cigar, but because they stayed lit on stage longer than the more tightly packed Havana smokes. "If you have to stop your act to keep lighting your cigar, the audience goes out," he once cracked. The legendary star of vaudeville, radio, TV and film resurrected his movie career in the 1970s with starring roles in The Sunshine Boys and Oh, God! Burns, who lived to 100, credited his 10- to 15-cigar-a-day habit over a 70-year span with not only keeping him spry on stage but also with helping him outlive his physician. "If I had taken my doctor's advice and quit smoking when he advised me to," Burns quipped at age 98, "I wouldn't have lived to go to his funeral."
Favorite cigar: El Producto
The father of psychoanalysis saw phallic symbols everywhere, but nevertheless conceded that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." He began smoking at 24, enjoyed an average of 20 cigars a day, and was rarely photographed without his tobacco companion. He often stated that he couldn't work without cigars and that "smoking was one of the greatest pleasures in life." A lifetime smoker, he favored Don Pedros, Reina Cubanas and Dutch Liliputanos.
Most men would be thrilled if their wives relished the smoke wafting from their cigars. Berle must be ecstatic, as all three of his spouses supported his hankering for Havanas. Even Marilyn Monroe, with whom the entertainer had a short fling before she became a star, savored the aroma of his cigars, and Uncle Miltie, who regularly tried to wean his friends off cigarettes and on to cigars, once bought a box of small cigars for the blonde bombshell, hoping to persuade her to switch. Berle's second wife, Ruth, not only supported his cigar habit, she showed ingenuity in doing so. During their honeymoon in Paris, Ruth went shopping for an evening bag, trying larger and larger sizes until she found one that could fit four of Miltie's mammoth Cubans. Before flying on to Rome, Berle packed some 500 Havanas, but customs officials there informed him that visitors were limited to 100 cigars. Nonplussed, Ruth pulled out a cigar from her bag and asked Berle for a light. "She nearly choked to death smoking it," Berle recalled, "but it enabled us to bring another hundred cigars in."
Favorite cigar: H. Upmann
Although he was asthmatic, Argentinian-born Che took up cigar smoking as one of his first Cuban customs. While serving as Fidel Castro's right-hand man during the Cuban revolution, he allowed himself two indulgences: books and cigars. But good tobacco was scarce in the mountains of Cuba, so any cigars they got were highly prized. After taking his share, Guevara used cigars as incentives for his soldiers because, as he wrote, "a smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier."
A cigar sometimes got the comedian into trouble. Once, his third wife, Eden, objected to his "stinky old cigar" and ordered him to extinguish it or get a new wife. On an earlier occasion, Marx splurged for a 10-cent pure Havana after spotting an advertisement that promised "thirty glorious minutes in Havana." When the cigar lasted only 20 minutes, Groucho demanded a replacement. Somehow, each subsequent cigar met the same fate, until after the fifth one the merchant wised up and tossed Groucho out.
Some smokers from the sport world
His larger-than-life persona, his considerable girth, and his zest for excess couldn't disguise the fact that George Herman Ruth was one of the best baseball players of the century. A standout pitcher for the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the New York Yankees, Ruth was the greatest slugger of his time, and perhaps of all time. Off the field, the Babe loved the good life: food, drink, women--and cigars. While still in Boston, he invested in a local cigar factory that produced nickel smokes with his picture plastered on the wrapper. "I smoked them until I was blue in the face," he once lamented. On a road trip, he snuck a woman into the room he was sharing with Ernie Shore, a fellow Red Sox pitcher (who once combined with Ruth to pitch a perfect game against the Washington Senators). Not surprisingly, Shore couldn't sleep, as the sounds emanating from the Babe's bed were hard to shut out. The next day, Shore noticed four or five cigar butts next to a sleeping Ruth. The Babe's explanation later: "Oh, that! I like a cigar every time I'm finished."
Favorite cigar: "Babe Ruth" perfecto
When the NBA legend made a move on court, few opponents could stop him. Off the court, it was much the same way. Case in point: Jordan would be smoking, say, a Cuban Montecristo No. 2 on the Bulls' bus. Would any of his nonsmoking teammates ever ask the five-time league MVP to snuff out his cigar? As former teammate John Salley once put it: "We were just apostles. Jesus was smoking, that's all there is to it. What are you going to say?"
"I didn't want to rub anything in or show anybody what a great coach I was when I was 25 points ahead. Why? I gotta win by 30? What the hell difference does it make?" To Auerbach, sitting down on the bench to smoke a cigar in the waning minutes of a Boston Celtics triumph was his way of exuding humility. No one else saw it that way, though. To opposing fans, the "victory cigar" symbolized smugness in being able to administer such an awful beating to their team. Opposing players would be motivated by the cigar, doubling their intensity level until the final buzzer. Even Red's own players suffered from the fourth-quarter fumigation. According to guard Bob Cousy, the sight of Auerbach sitting calmly smoking a cigar only served to increase the fans' hostility and the abuse they heaped upon the Celtics. Auerbach's victory ritual was so reviled that the Cincinnati Royals management once handed out 5,000 cigars to its fans, instructing them to light up when the Royals won. Instead, the move backfired, as a fired-up Celtics squad blew the Royals off the court.
Favorite cigar: Hoyo de Monterrey
The hockey great prefers a mild smoke such as a Macanudo or an Ashton 898. He and his wife, actress Janet Jones, are frequent guests at gala cigar events.
When he's not blowing smoke past his opponents on the court, the tennis ace, who won his second U.S. Open title in September, is stalking premium smokes in his hometown of Las Vegas.
Some smokers from the politics world
Does he or doesn't he? The 42nd president is known for chewing cigars on the golf course, but there have been only a few reports of his actually smoking a cigar. It's well known that the first lady bans tobacco smoke from the White House, but does the chief executive light up somewhere else--say, for instance, on a state visit overseas? Perhaps if Hillary makes her way to the Senate, she'll entrust her husband with the authority to set the smoking regulations in their new home in New York.
The reluctantly hunky Hollywood heavyweight has been dubbed "Star of the Century" for his reign as the all-time top box office draw. Revered for his honest and moral on-screen presence, Ford has appeared in an eclectic mix of films such as the Star Wars trilogy, Witness and Clear and Present Danger. A member of the $20 million-per-picture club, Ford shies away from the Hollywood scene, preferring the company of his family on their large Wyoming ranch, where he can puff in peace.
American politician who has long been known as a strong supporter of the trade embargo against Cuba. In a photo, published in 2005 by Time Magazine, DeLay is seen smoking a Cuban cigar.
Ulysses S. Grant
18th President of the United States and American Civil War hero. Some Historians say that he smoked 20 cigars a day. He began smoking cigars at Fort Adelson in 1862. When a reporter commented that Grant liked cigars, people began sending him cigars. He received over 20,000.
As mayor of New York, Giuliani has focused on quality of life issues and watched crime rates plunge. The former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York has a sophisticated palate for cigars, preferring full-bodied smokes from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. He came upon his predilections after having been tutored in cigars by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, maker of La Gloria Cubana. He is a frequent guest at Cigar Aficionado Big Smokes and enjoys cigars late at night. Some
FIORELLO LA GUARDIA
The New York mayor known for fighting corruption and organized crime generally left his cigar band on while smoking
British politician, once Deputy Chairman of British American Tobacco, lobbying the developing world to reject stronger health warnings on cigarette packets.
Some smokers from the movies world
It never hurts to have a father-in-law who smokes cigars. Sargent Shriver, the father of Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria, the TV correspondent, offered him a cigar after a dinner, shortly after Schwarzenegger and Maria met in 1977. Now, any complaints Maria might make about her husband's cigar smoking can be parried with a quick reference to her dad. "You can always say, 'Look, honey, your father wouldn't have introduced me to something that's bad,' " the ex-bodybuilder once cracked.
If there's anyone who's hard to pigeonhole, it's Goldberg. She has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance in The Color Purple and been named best supporting actress in Ghost. Her screwball stand-up routines are renowned, but she has also hosted a talk show in which she explored serious subjects. She's just as difficult to classify when it comes to cigars. While she prefers small cigars, she's been known to light up a big Cohiba now and then.
The three-time Academy Award winner had been a longtime cigarette smoker when he took up golf in the early 1990s. He found himself smoking half a pack during a round to calm his nerves, so he decided to switch to cigars from around the fifth hole on. The change helped relax him, and eventually Nicholson got down to a 12 handicap. The actor first became enamored of Cuban cigars in 1973, when he was making The Last Detail, insisting that the petty officer character he played be a cigar smoker. The picture was shot in Canada, affording easy access to Havanas. When he resumed cigar smoking in the '90s, one of Nicholson's favorite haunts was the Forum in Los Angeles, where he would attend most of the Lakers' home games. At one time he was able to light up right on the arena floor, but as California antismoking laws got tougher, he found himself relegated to a hallway and, eventually, outside the building itself. "But I get around it," he said in 1995. "I sneak into the men's room at halftime, like when I was in high school, and take my drags there."
Favorite cigar: Montecristo
Willis, who first gained attention as the wisecracking David Addison on ABC's "Moonlighting," has electrified worldwide audiences in a number of big-budget blockbusters that usually have him, if not saving the world (Armageddon), then saving the day (the Die Hard trilogy). He has demonstrated a flair for comedy as well, as shown in The Player. During the mid-1990s, Willis frequented Arnold Schwarzenegger's Monday night cigar dinners at Schatzi on Main.
The award-winning actor-producer has a proclivity for playing flawed heroes and antiheroes. Douglas received an Academy Award for Best Picture as producer of the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a corporate high roller in Wall Street. He also starred in Romancing the Stone, The War of the Roses and everyone's favorite cautionary tale on the dangers of adultery, Fatal Attraction. He enjoys smoking Montecristo No. 2s on the golf course.
The star of Top Gun, Mission: Impossible and Eyes Wide Shut has been a cigar aficionado throughout most of the 1990s. A scene for his 1996 hit, Jerry Maguire, was filmed at the Grand Havana Room in Los Angeles. During the middle of the decade, Cruise reportedly had a standing order for Cuban Cohibas with London and Geneva tobacconists. He and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, once presented their friend, Demi Moore, with a travel humidor for her birthday.
The perceived connection between cigars and wealth was one that actor-director Chaplin used to great effect in his films. Having survived a poverty-stricken childhood, Chaplin's sympathies were always with the underdog, famously symbolized in his character, the Tramp. Although the Tramp was not above picking up the cast-off cigar butts of the rich, in City Lights Chaplin used a big cigar both as a symbol of the upper class, with its wealth and power, and as a spear to harpoon it.
The actor who first came on the public's radar screen as Vinnie Barberino in TV's "Welcome Back, Kotter" and then skyrocketed to star stature as the disco-dancing Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever has a long-standing affection for cigars. Some of his fondest memories are of his father smoking White Owls during his childhood in New Jersey. As a film star, Travolta can afford to reward himself with less pedestrian smokes: Davidoffs, Dunhills and Montecristos are his favorites.
Even if Gibson were not a famous movie star, his name would be well known to habituיs of some of the country's better cigar-friendly establishments--Club Macanudo, Grand Havana Room, etc. His name is etched there in brass on humidor boxes for all to see. The winner of the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for Braveheart didn't mind risking his clean-cut image and rankling the Morals Police by announcing he would play a tobacco lobbyist in Thank You for Smoking
There's something about winter that doesn't seem so funny to the man who has made millions laugh. In 1994, Cosby was watching the ladies' figure skating finals in the Winter Olympics on TV, puffing away on an Ashton. Suddenly, Tonya Harding began to cry during her routine. No, Nancy Kerrigan hadn't just blasted her with a bazooka; rather, the problem was a wayward shoelace. Mesmerized by the drama, Cosby took his cigar, which he had placed in an ashtray, and stuck it in his mouth--ash end first. His tongue told him he had "instantly made a very serious mistake." Two winters earlier, the comedian experienced another tobacco tribulation. As he walked about Manhattan with a cigar, the 38 degree chill "turned my warm, succulent corona into a piece of cold, soggy rutabaga." Stopping in a store that sold expensive gadgets for the Man Who Has Everything, as he described it, Cosby hoped to find some device that would keep his cigar warm. No such luck. "What kind of store was this?" he ruminated. "How could a man have everything if he didn't have a thing to keep his cigar warm?"
Favorite cigar: Ashton Maduro No. 60
Moore is partial to small cigars, such as the Montecristo Joyita, but also enjoys a Cohiba No. 2 or a Montecristo No. 2.
Somewhere between Rocky and Rambo lies Stallone the connoisseur. While most of his more famous on-screen personae do not suggest a reflective side, that is exactly what the private Stallone pursues in his love affair with premium cigars (paired with Armagnac or vintage wine). He's most nettled by acquaintances who cadge rare cigars only to let them go out after four or five puffs. We know the tough-guy thing is just for the movies, but do you really want him mad at you?
The master of suspense, who gave us such thrillers as North by Northwest, Psycho and The Birds, was frequently seen with his trademark bowler hat and cigar.
After being turned on to cigars by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor-director-producer moved over the years from Cuban Cohibas to Partagas Serie D No. 4s, Diplomaticos and Bolivars. His favorite cigar coup occurred on a flight from Europe after filming The War of the Roses in the late 1980s, when he asked every passenger if they would mind if he smoked his cigar. He got their permission. "It was," he recalled, "the most enjoyable transatlantic flight I ever had."
SAMMY DAVIS JR.
A member of the smoking Rat Pack, Davis entertained audiences with his singing, dancing, acting and impressions.
The actor has likened cigar smoking to marbles: a guy kind of thing. He says some of his best conversations with men have been conducted over a cigar, such as a Por Larraסaga Nacionales.
ROBERT DE NIRO
What's scarier than a pathological homicidal ex-con stalking your family all over Cape Fear, South Carolina? A pathological homicidal ex-con who's chewing on a Casa Blanca Half Jeroboam Maduro. "Come out, come out, wherever you are."
Some smokers from the business world
J. P. MORGAN
The legendary business tycoon and robber baron was a painfully shy and private person. But in his professional dealings, John Pierpont Morgan was ruthless. During his long career as head of J.P. Morgan & Co., he helped save the U.S. government from bankruptcy (at a price) and helped to create U.S. Steel. He loved to travel, collect art and smoke cigars, of which he consumed dozens a day. He was known to favor Cuban smokes, particularly Meridiana Kohinoors.
When the multimillion dollar businessman and former owner of Consolidated Cigar Corp. wants to eat out, he naturally looks for a cigar-friendly establishment. As he explained in a 1995 interview, "I think I pretty much gravitate toward restaurants that allow cigar smoking, partly because it's so important to me to smoke, particularly after dinner. But from a purely financial point of view, if somebody is not going to support my business, I'm certainly not going to support their business."
"If your wife doesn't like the aroma of your cigar, change your wife," said the late Swiss-based cigar-industry icon, who began his illustrious career in the 1930s as a worker in his father's tobacco shop in Geneva. The Russian יmigrי was instrumental in creating the high-end Hoyo de Monterrey "Chateaux" series of cigars and launched his signature line of Cuban smokes in 1970. He was the author of The Connoisseur's Book of the Cigar, widely regarded as the bible of the industry.
The famed candy maker smoked eight to 10 cigars a day, a habit he continued when he moved to Cuba to produce sugar.
IBM's smoking chairman initiated a partnership with 21 states and school districts in which students benefited from the firm's technology and technical assistance
This Montecristo No. 2 connoisseur was given the unenviable task a decade ago of turning around MBNA Corp., a Maryland bank saddled with underperforming real estate loans. Lerner began to pay down debt and took the parent company public, and today it is one of the nation's biggest credit card issuers. Part of MBNA's success is due to Lerner's introduction of affinity credit cards, which benefit the group issuing them. A football fan, Lerner bought the new Cleveland Browns last year.
Some smokers in the media world
An on-again, off-again smoker, Letterman has brought cigar notoriety to late-night television. He would frequently sneak puffs from a double-corona-sized smoke during commercial breaks. Often the camera would catch him in the act, smoke rising past Letterman's face as he wore a "Who, me?" expression. Guests would arrive on his show bearing (Cuban) gifts, but few made more of an impact than Madonna, who in a 1994 appearance used a cigar and colorful language in a way that needed no clarification from Freud.
In a world of blown-dry newsmen anchored to their studio desks, Rather enjoys being out in the field, smoking a cigar. But he admitted that one of his smokes nearly killed an indoor plant that his wife had labored to keep alive. Almost caught by his wife sneaking a smoke indoors, he had stuck the half-smoked cigar in the plant's pot. It wasn't until he extracted the forgotten stub weeks later that the plant regained its health. Among Rather's most cherished smokes: cigars from Fidel Castro.
WILLIAM S. PALEY
The archetypal media mogul, who headed CBS, grew up in the Philadelphia cigar industry: his family made the La Palina.
The '50s TV genius smoked 20 Cuban double coronas a day, and his commercials with his wife, actress Edie Adams, for sponsor Consolidated Cigar's Dutch Masters and Muriel cigars are considered classics. Nothing about Kovacs, a TV writer, director, producer and star, was halfway: he lived extravagantly and worked so frenetically that he had shows on all four of the 1950s TV networks. When he died, his philosophy of excess was extolled on his tombstone: Nothing in Moderation.
The president of media giant Condי Nast has been a cigar aficionado since his late 20s and loves to savor La Gloria Cubanas and Hoyo de Monterrey Excaliburs while sailing.
The outspoken radio and TV commentator was a latecomer to cigars, but he was a quick learner. Starting out with Macanudos, Ashtons and Fonsecas, Limbaugh soon gravitated toward Havanas. On a trip to London, he became acquainted with Punch Double Coronas, Partagas Lusitanias and Monty No. 2s, but, alas, he couldn't find any Hoyo de Monterreys. The disappointment was short-lived, however; on a yachting holiday, he found a rare box of Hoyo Double Coronas on St. Maarten
Some smokers in the music world
The 1950s teen idol and composer of "My Way" likes his cigars one way, and that's Cuban. Cohibas are his favorite.
The legendary pianist loved Cuban cigars, especially Montecristo No. 2s and 3s, so much that he owned a tobacco plantation in pre-Castro Cuba.
The larger-than-life tenor puffs the occasional Cuban, but prefers surprisingly small cigars, Swiss-made Villigers, which he first bought on a whim 22 years ago.
The polysyllabic TV sports journalist was a fixture on ABC's "Monday Night Football" telecasts. Known for his blunt and often harsh rebukes--in his words, "telling it like it is"--of athletes and fellow sportscasters, Cosell was both loved and hated by viewers and peers alike. And Cosell wouldn't have had it any other way. He wasn't averse to bumming cigars off the same colleagues he often ridiculed, according to writers H. Paul Jeffers and Kevin Gordon.
Whether your image of the “cigar smoker” is someone famous, the product of the famous merged together (perhaps a Sigmund Freud and Grouch Marx love child), or someone completely unknown, avid cigar smokers have two things in common: they enjoy what they’re smoking and (as attested in the above quotes) they certainly can’t complain.