More than 100 people have appeared on the cover of Cigar Aficionado: movie and television stars, sports legends, famous people of all types. Winston Churchill stands apart. He’s arguably the most important figure from the past 100 years of world history, and one who clearly resonates with our readers. When we asked our audience to vote on their favorite cover in celebration of our 25th anniversary in December, Churchill won the contest handily.
This is the third time he has appeared on our cover, and you’ll note that this appearance is a different one, for the image of Churchill you see now is one of the actor Gary Oldman in his makeup for the movie Darkest Hour.
If you haven’t seen the film, go see it as soon as you can. It’s a stunning achievement, and Oldman’s Oscar-winning performance is nothing short of amazing. It’s the remarkable tale of how Churchill—cigar always at the ready, drink never far away—stood alone and steadfast against the Nazis in World War II. When he was named prime minister in May 1940, the German army seemed invincible, and Britain stood alone, staring across the narrow English Channel to a continent ruled by a country intent on destroying democracy and Western civilization itself. Many argued he should sue for peace, but Churchill never budged. His refusal to cower before such a mighty enemy single-handedly changed the course of history.
Inspired by this marvelous film, we set out to create our most comprehensive look at Churchill ever. We turned to Jon Meacham, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for biography and author of the 2003 book Franklin and Winston (about the friendship between Churchill and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Meacham’s story, which begins on page 56, shows how this great man rose to the occasion when all seemed lost, and illustrates his remarkable prowess leading the British through the Second World War.
Next we have Marshall Fine taking a look at what Oldman endured to bring Churchill to the big screen—hours each day in the makeup chair, for starters, and smoking a dozen Cuban cigars each day during filming. We also see how other actors from Richard Burton to John Lithgow have brought this great man to both the large and small screen.
We also examine Churchill’s enormous consumption of cigars and libations. Experts Lee Pollock of The International Churchill Society and Rob Fox of James J. Fox (where Churchill bought many cigars) separate fact from fiction.
Finally, for the first time, you’ll read about the historic humidor presented to Churchill in 1941, with a plaque reading “from the democracy of Cuba.” That humidor came filled with 5,000 seven-inch-long, 47 ring-gauge cigars, a size that would later be given the name Churchill.
We invite you to light up a handmade Churchill cigar, pour yourself a glass of whisky and read all about one of the most interesting men ever to walk the earth.