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, 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, n e 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.
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.
SMOKERS FROM THE POLITIC 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.
TOM DE LAY
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.
SMOKERS FROM INDONESIAN CELEBRITY
Katon Bagaskara, singer and songwriter known for his poetic and romantic lyrics who has been in the Indonesian music industry for 23 years, has known cigars since 1996. In one of his band, KLa Project's music video, Katon had a scene showing him puffing smoke from his favorite cigar.
Husband of the beautiful actress Ira Wibowo and father of three children, Katon states that the sensation he enjoys from a cigar is the very strong and immediately relaxing taste of nicotine obtained while puffing the smokes without even inhaling it, and the aftertaste where genuine tobaccos always leave an enjoyable impression. Even the full bodied feel of the cigar also leaves a distinct impression when smoking it.
Today, smoking cigars is more than just a lifestyle for Katon, his habit of enjoying cigars also supported his career as a singer. Not only on coffee breaks with his friends, but also when contemplating to write a song and everytime before a performance. In the waiting room, Katon always smokes his cigar. He says it helps him produce a better voice and give the best performance for his fans.
Favorite Cigars : Partagas D Series, Cohiba Siglo IV, Ramon Allones