Cover Stars

Cigar Aficionado’s 112 covers have won high praise, and eight of our cigar-smoking celebrities tell us why.

(continued from page 1)
CA: What did being on the cover of Cigar Aficionado mean to you?
MANTEGNA: It’s hard to put into words. After reading the magazine for all these years, to pass by the newsstand and see my mug on the cover —Wow! It took me full circle to high school, when we would smoke White Owls and Muriel Tiparillos and Hav-a-Tampa Jewels. We’d have a card game every week and the other guys were smoking cigarettes, but we were cool because we were smoking cigars. So, to be on the cover of the magazine was very satisfying, right up there with getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
CA: Did you hear from anyone unexpected after being on the cover?
MANTEGNA: In terms of the fan mail, I started getting copies of the magazine sent to me with self-addressed stamped envelopes, asking me to sign them. People will go to memorabilia stores and buy pictures to send you or they’ll send you the covers of DVDs to sign. But with this issue, I heard from the cigar world. I kept getting all these large, heavy envelopes. These were cigar guys.
CA: What’s your go-to cigar these days?
MANTEGNA: I’m still a sucker for anything Fuente. And I really like the God of Fire. That’s a really good cigar. It’s not too heavy. God of Fire made a line with my name on it. I wouldn’t let them do that if it was just any cigar company that came to me.
CA: What is your favorite cigar memory?
MANTEGNA: It’s about a place called Gus’ Smoke Shop in Sherman Oaks, that’s now gone. It was, at that point, the oldest continuing business in the San Fernando Valley, run by a guy who has since passed away.
On Saturdays, a bunch of us used to hang out at the store. It was me and Dennis Franz, Joe Pantoliano, Dan Lauria and a few others. We’d all sit around in the back of the store—and we’d smoke cigars and sit on the floor and talk, because there weren’t any chairs. And finally, the guy who ran the place, his name was Jim Hurwitz, he said, “I can’t have you sitting on the floor.” So he rented the storefront next door and we used it as a cigar lounge. It didn’t last long but it was great. It predated the Grand Havana Room.
Which reminds me of taking a picture at the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills before it officially opened. It was Andy Garcia and Dennis and Joe Pantoliano—and Milton Berle. We were the charter members. It was still under construction. So Milton walks in late and Joe says, “How do you like my joint?” And Milton, who had a reputation for having the biggest dick in Hollywood, grabs his crotch and says, “How do you like my joint?”
Joe brought in his humidor full of cigars so we’d each have one for the photo. So Joe opens the humidor for Milton—and Milton grabs a handful and sticks them in his pocket. This was Joey’s personal stash, but what are you going to say? It’s Milton Berle.

Dennis Haysbert

(Nov/Dec 2006)
Dennis Haysbert had been a working actor for 20-plus years when he truly became a famous face, playing President David Palmer on the hit TV show, “24.” He had just moved on from “24” to “The Unit” when he landed on the cover of Cigar Aficionado in 2006. Since then, Haysbert has also become the face and voice of Allstate Insurance. In his high school yearbook, Haysbert’s career goals—which he’s now met—involved having his face on the covers of Ebony and TV Guide. Cigar Aficionado has obviously been a bonus.
Cigar Aficionado: What do you remember about the cover shoot?
DENNIS HAYSBERT: How many comments I got because of it. It was very interesting; it looked kind of prophetic, because I was playing a black president on TV and now we’ve got a black president. I’ve done a number of cover shoots, but I really loved those photos. And everybody seemed to love the article. I was surprised at the number of people who talked to me about it and its content. They believed it revealed a lot.
CA: What did being on the cover of Cigar Aficionado mean to you?
HAYSBERT: It gave me a nice cachet, a kind of respect. I like cigars. That’s an adult thing that men and women alike enjoy. Every place I went, if I saw a cigar shop, I saw that cover or a poster of the cover. Maybe it had something to do with being the president.
CA: What’s your go-to cigar these days?
HAYSBERT: I remember the cigar I gave myself after my first and only hole in one, which was on the seventh hole at Pebble Beach: a Partagás No. 2. I love Partagás—the flavor has a medium spiciness. It’s an enjoyable cigar and it takes about an hour or an hour and a half to do it justice. I usually have a cigar during a round of golf or after a good steak.
CA: Since being on the cover, do you now get cigars as gifts?
HAYSBERT: Absolutely, without a doubt. I have this humidor, the biggest one you can carry. I don’t keep a lot there because I don’t want them to go bad. But I don’t think you can ever have too many cigars—unless you don’t have enough places to keep them fresh.
CA: What’s the first cigar you remember really appreciating as you smoked it?
HAYSBERT: A Cohiba Lancero. It was incredibly spicy and I liked the length of it. There was something very cool about it. It was long and angular and I guess that’s something I identify with: being long and slim.

Chris Noth

(May/June 2010)
Most actors don’t have one hit TV series, let alone three or four. But actor Chris Noth was on his fourth, playing the bad husband to “The Good Wife,” when he appeared on the cover of Cigar Aficionado. Before that, he’d solved crimes for “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” then romanced Carrie Bradshaw as Mr. Big on “Sex and the City,” a role he reprised in two SATC movies.
Cigar Aficionado: What did being on the cover of Cigar Aficionado mean to you?
CHRIS NOTH: I was pretty honored. The cover has a long history of prestigious cigar smokers. I consider myself a novice cigar smoker; there are guys who know a lot more about it than I do. I remember being very happy with the pictures. I said, “Damn, I wish they could all look like that.”
CA: What’s your go-to cigar these days?
NOTH: Am I allowed to mention Cubans? Because there’s one I’m very fond of: the San Cristobal de la Habana. Otherwise, I’m like everybody else. I love a Cuban Cohiba if I can get it, or a Romeo y Julieta. But this one was a perfect balance. It doesn’t overwhelm you. Some cigars are so damn strong that you can’t stand up after smoking them. Occasionally, that’s how I like it, if I have a little bit of Irish whiskey, too.
CA: What’s your best cigar memory?
NOTH: I was doing a job in Texas, “Rough Riders,” a miniseries about Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, with Tom Berenger and Sam Elliott and a bunch of guys. We were camping out in the heat. And after a long day’s hard marching in the sun, we’d sit down at night around the campfire and smoke what seemed like homemade stogies. The movie was set in the 1890s and I wouldn’t be surprised if the stogies weren’t from the 1890s, too. They weren’t very good cigars, but they sure relieved the pain of slogging in the heat.

Gen. Tommy Franks

(Nov/Dec 2003)
Gen. Tommy Franks (U.S. Army-ret.) left the military in July 2003, after leading the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States. In retirement he published a best-selling memoir, American Soldier, started his own consulting firm in the disaster recovery industry, and received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President George W. Bush in December 2004.
Cigar Aficionado: What do you remember most about your cover shoot?
GEN. TOMMY Franks: I remember your team falling in on my office in Tampa. I found a pair of CIA cufflinks I had, and that’s what I’m wearing in the photo. A lot of people later said to me, “I recognize those.” When I mentioned to my wife that I was going to be talking to you for this, she said, “Tell him that photo is my
favorite you’ve ever taken.”
CA: What did it mean to you to be on the cover of Cigar Aficionado?
Franks: The greatest result was that it sold a lot of books for HarperCollins. I did the interview before I wrote my book. And it was enough of a teaser to cause the book to rocket to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, and a couple of other places. And I think a lot of that was prompted by the content of that Cigar Aficionado cover. It also made me get interested in cigars in a way I hadn’t before.
CA: What’s your go-to cigar these days?
Franks: I should probably be politically correct and say a Davidoff. But when I’m overseas, I smoke Cuban Montecristo No. 2. And I smoke Cohibas. My favorite in the United States is a Fuente Fuente OpusX.
CA: When do you smoke?
Franks: I smoke one cigar a day. I do it after dinner, just about any place I am.
CA: What’s your fondest cigar memory?
Franks: It has to do with my son-in-law, who is in the military, and several of his friends. We will sit around in the evening when we get together with family. It’s a chance to enjoy a glass of wine and a good cigar.
Contributing editor Marshall Fine writes about movies and entertainment on his website, Follow him on Twitter @hollywoodnfine.
Log in if you're already registered.

Or register for Cigar Aficionado today—it's free.

Registration allows you to:
  • Keep track of your favorite cigars in your personal humidor.
  • Comment on all our stories.

Forgot your password?

Ratings & Reviews

Search our database of more than 17,000 cigar tasting notes by score, brand, country, size, price range, year, wrapper and more, plus add your favorites to your Personal Humidor.