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Power Smokers of Hollywood

David Shaw
From the Print Edition:
Rush Limbaugh, Spring 94

(continued from page 5)

Sitting on a camel-colored sofa in his office late on a winter afternoon, running one hand through his dark beard, Milius gestures with his other hand toward the 16 boxes of Cuban cigars piled high on a table in front of him. "You picked the right day to talk to me," he says, puffing on one of the Montecristos. "My stash just arrived. I have a lot of cigars at home, but this makes me feel more secure."

Milius likes having a lot of cigars around because, like many cigar aficionados, he enjoys giving them to friends. "I'm a cigar lord," he says proudly. On the second Wednesday of every month, he is host to a cigar-smokers' dinner at the Pacific Dining Car, a steakhouse in Santa Monica. "It's the brotherhood of the stogie," he says, "and I'm the grand poo-bah. Sometimes I wear a Viking helmet to the dinner."

In Los Angeles, as elsewhere, a number of restaurants have recently started special cigar dinners, but many of the movie folk have their own--either regularly scheduled events, like Schwarzenegger's at Schatzi and Milius' at Pacific Dining Car, or impromptu gatherings, like the one Hutch Parker, vice president of HBO, periodically attends at Le Dome.

Parker also takes considerable pleasure in giving cigars to friends--and, again, like most cigar smokers, he seems to like talking about his first cigar almost as much as some men like to talk about their first sexual experience.

For many young men--especially in Southern California--that first sexual experience often takes place in a car. In Parker's case, the "first time" with cigars also involved a car. Two cars, actually.

Parker and his brother Parker Stevenson, the actor, took a class in race-car driving. It was exciting and exhilarating and liberating and "we were feeling very macho and studly afterward," Parker says. "Out came these cigars, as a natural extension of that feeling."

But Parker is as sentimental as he is studly. David Ladd, senior vice president at MGM and brother of Alan Ladd Jr., former president of MGM, introduced Parker to his wife three years ago, and since then, every time they see each other--no matter where or under what circumstances--Parker gives him a Cuban cigar.

"It seems only fair," Parker says, "and if I forget, David reminds me."

Fred Westheimer, an agent at William Morris, often joins Parker and Ladd for the Le Dome dinners. Westheimer, who represents Candice Bergen, John Hurt, Jacqueline Bisset and Paula Abdul, remembers falling in love with the smell of cigars when he was seven or eight years old, watching his dad smoke.

Once he got to college, Westheimer began smoking cigars. Still close to his father, he recently borrowed a book from his library and read it before going to sleep one night. "That night I dreamed of walking through tobacco fields," he says. "I didn't know until I told him about the dream later that he'd often read that book while smoking a cigar."

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