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The Legends Speak

We take the words right out of their mouths as Cigar Aficionado imagines what it would be like to have a face-to-face with history’s most famous cigar smokers.
P.J. O'Rourke
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

(continued from page 8)

Groucho Marx


CIGAR AFICIONADO: Your cigar was even more of a trademark than Winston Churchill’s. You were rarely ever seen without a cigar.
GROUCHO MARX: Do you mind if I don’t smoke?

CA: Your son Arthur, who interviewed George Burns, also wrote an
article about you. [Cigar Aficionado Spring 1993.] He said you really didn’t smoke that much—two, maybe three cigars a day.
MARX: Just give me a comfortable couch, a dog, a good book and a woman. Then if you can get the dog to go somewhere and read the book, I might have a little fun.

CA: Arthur said you weren’t much of a womanizer either.
MARX: A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.

CA: That’s almost exactly what Rudyard Kipling told me, but he made it rhyme.
MARX: Quote me as saying I was misquoted.

CA: But when you did smoke you were very discriminating about your cigars. As I recall, your favorite was the Dunhill 410 and a Belinda on special occasions.
MARX: You’ve got a brain after all—and how you get along without it is amazing to me.

CA: Your Dunhills were made in Cuba, now they’re made in the Dominican Republic. Do you think Dunhill has perfected the art of making a great non-Cuban cigar?
MARX: Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, you tell me what you know.

CA: You started smoking Cubans because of an ad you saw for a 15-cent cigar called La Preferencia that promised you “Thirty glorious minutes in Havana.” The cigar only lasted for a quarter of an hour and you returned the butt to the cigar store to try to get your 15 minutes back.
MARX: Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them—well I have others.

CA: You mean that really happened?
MARX: The clerk said, “I told you I only work here. Don’t bother me if you don’t like our merchandise. Write to the company and tell them your troubles.” Two weeks later I received a certified check for 15 cents. Because of their generosity I continued to smoke La Preferencias for many years. But I still maintain they were crooked, for no matter how slowly I puffed, I was never able to spend more than 22 minutes in Havana.

CA: But you didn’t start out smoking 15-cent cigars. Fifteen cents was a lot of money way back then.
MARX: If there was an open season for fellows like you, I’d get myself a hunting license.

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