The Top 100 Cigar Smokers of the Twentieth Century
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99
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27 W. C. FIELDS Fields had a successful career playing hard-drinking, hard-living, yet lovable misogynists in such films as Tillie and Gus (1933), My Little Chickadee (1940) and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). The bulbous-nosed, nasal-voiced comedic actor started out as a vaudeville juggler, teaching himself the skill with cigar boxes. An occasional cigar smoker, Fields used cigars as props in many of his movies to make him "look boorish," according to biographer James Curtis.
28 HOWARD COSELL The polysyllabic TV sports journalist was a fixture on ABC's "Monday Night Football" telecasts. Known for his blunt and often harsh rebukes--in his words, "telling it like it is"--of athletes and fellow sportscasters, Cosell was both loved and hated by viewers and peers alike. And Cosell wouldn't have had it any other way. He wasn't averse to bumming cigars off the same colleagues he often ridiculed, according to writers H. Paul Jeffers and Kevin Gordon.
29 ORSON WELLES When he was just 25 years old, Welles conceived, wrote and directed Citizen Kane (1941), considered by many cineastes to be the finest and most innovative American film ever made. The larger-than-life cinema icon, who went on to produce four more masterpieces, was at turns reviled and revered by his peers. Welles was a lover of the good life, especially fine cigars; he intentionally wrote cigar-smoking characters, such as Touch of Evil's police captain Hank Quinlan, into his films.
30 HARRISON FORD 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.
31 TOM CRUISE The star of Top Gun, Mission: Impossible and Eyes Wide Shut has been a cigar aficionado throughout most of the 1990s. A scene for his 1996 hit, Jerry Maguire, was filmed at the Grand Havana Room in Los Angeles. During the middle of the decade, Cruise reportedly had a standing order for Cuban Cohibas with London and Geneva tobacconists. He and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, once presented their friend, Demi Moore, with a travel humidor for her birthday.
32 CHE GUEVARA 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."
33 CHARLIE CHAPLIN The perceived connection between cigars and wealth was one that actor-director Chaplin used to great effect in his films. Having survived a poverty-stricken childhood, Chaplin's sympathies were always with the underdog, famously symbolized in his character, the Tramp. Although the Tramp was not above picking up the cast-off cigar butts of the rich, in City Lights Chaplin used a big cigar both as a symbol of the upper class, with its wealth and power, and as a spear to harpoon it.
34 ERNIE KOVACS The '50s TV genius smoked 20 Cuban double coronas a day, and his commercials with his wife, actress Edie Adams, for sponsor Consolidated Cigar's Dutch Masters and Muriel cigars are considered classics. Nothing about Kovacs, a TV writer, director, producer and star, was halfway: he lived extravagantly and worked so frenetically that he had shows on all four of the 1950s TV networks. When he died, his philosophy of excess was extolled on his tombstone: Nothing in Moderation.
35 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.
36 DAVID LETTERMAN An on-again, off-again smoker, Letterman has brought cigar notoriety to late-night television. He would frequently sneak puffs from a double-corona-sized smoke during commercial breaks. Often the camera would catch him in the act, smoke rising past Letterman's face as he wore a "Who, me?" expression. Guests would arrive on his show bearing (Cuban) gifts, but few made more of an impact than Madonna, who in a 1994 appearance used a cigar and colorful language in a way that needed no clarification from Freud.
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