The Top 100 Cigar Smokers of the Twentieth Century
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99
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37 EDWARD G. ROBINSON Short and squat with a bulldog face, Robinson didn't have leading-man looks. But in the 1930 film Little Caesar, Robinson not only launched his 50-year film career, but also set the stereotype of the American gangster forever in the minds of the moviegoing public. As Enrico "Rico" Bandello, Robinson portrayed a cigarette-smoking small-time hood who rises through the underworld ranks, becoming a Habanos-chomping, well-tailored mob boss before meeting his tragic end.
38 DIZZY GILLESPIE The trumpeter renowned for his groundbreaking be-bop music couldn't afford good cigars during his early career, but decades later he avidly indulged in Cuban Hoyo de Monterreys and Romeo y Julietas. Gillespie long had an appreciation for things Cuban: Cuban trumpeter Mario Bauza befriended the young Diz during the 1930s, dramatically influencing his musical style. A decade later, Gillespie returned the favor, hiring the Cuban master congero Chano Pozo for his big band, helping to create Latin jazz.
39 DANNY DeVITO 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."
40 PETER FALK For TV buffs, the image is indelible: the rumpled police detective with the unruly hair and the wrinkled trenchcoat heads for the door, his back to the suspect. Then he pauses, taking a puff from his cheap cigar as he cocks his head to one side and says, "Just one more thing..." The murderer is as good as jailed. Like his "Columbo" character, Falk doesn't make any claims to being a cigar connoisseur. "I'll smoke anything anybody gives me," he once said. "I'm not particular."
41 THOMAS EDISON Best known for bringing electric light and recorded sound into the world, Edison was also a prodigious cigar smoker. He liked to celebrate an invention with a stogie (preferably one he had won from a luckless lab assistant who had bet him he couldn't perform whatever feat of technological sorcery he was attempting). "The Wizard of Menlo Park" also had a sense of humor: to tweak associates who pilfered his cigars, he once planted phony smokes rolled from sawdust in his desk drawer.
42 SYLVESTER STALLONE 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?
43 H. L. MENCKEN American letters almost lost one of its most renowned champions of cigar smoking to, ironically enough, a cigarmaker. Mencken, journalist, humorist and shaper of modern fiction, toiled in his father's factory until August Mencken's demise allowed his son to pursue his true talent. He once took on a group of women who were seeking to prohibit smoking on streetcars, saying: "A woman who can stand half an hour of the Lexington fish market is well able to face a few blasts of tobacco smoke."
44 DAN RATHER 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.
45 CLARENCE THOMAS For those who fret over the hegemony of the Political Correctness Police (and who doesn't?), it is good to know that at least one confirmed cigar smoker sits on the Supreme Court. Thomas served as an assistant district attorney in Missouri, went into private practice for Monsanto, and later chaired the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. George Bush nominated him in 1991 to replace Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court. He is occasionally seen at Cigar Aficionado's Washington Big Smokes.
46 JOHN HUSTON Huston once described movie directing as "a left-handed form of human endeavor," and lived as though he tolerated his calling only as a way to finance his taste for the finer masculine endeavors, which famously included cigars, liquor, women and gambling. That outlook didn't stop him, however, from putting out some of the finest films ever made--The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen--and almost single-handedly creating the film noir genre.
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