Did you know that some of the century’s most influential people were also cigar aficionados? There have been many famous smokers throughout history, and it shows us that many popular and influential people have embraced this time-honored hobby.
While they may have been renowned for other reasons, the cigar helped define the public image of these famous people who smoked. In one way or another, this influenced the succeeding generations. It’s still common these days to see movie stars, politicians, and other famous people partake in smoking premium cigars.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most well-known people in history who were also known for their love of the finest cigars.
Through the Years
Picking and choosing the most powerful and popular cigar smokers of all time wasn’t easy. In fact, some people on my list may surprise you. But many of the stars, politicians, and authors that are found here were known for their habit of lighting up and were rarely found without their favorite stogie in their hand.
While there were some celebrities that made their passion for smoking known, others were more private about their smoking habits. But regardless of whether they were known for their classic films, important novels, or their career in politics, each person on this list shared one thing in common, and that’s their love of a good stogie.
Many of these influential people were gifted only best cigar humidors and finest cigars throughout the years and were widely known for their passion of trying new premium cigar blends from all over the world. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most well-known cigar smokers throughout the century.
Probably one of the most well-known cigar smokers in history, Winston Churchill had a reputation for loving a fine cigar and even had a cigar size named after him. Churchill smoked around ten cigars a day and mainly chose Cuban brands.
The prime minister was never without a cigar, even when he was forced to don an oxygen mask for air travel in cabins that were non-pressurized. He even went so far as to have a special oxygen mask made that would allow him to continue to smoke when he was up in the air. He spent time in the presence of royalty, and despite the fact that the Saudi Arabian King Ibn Sa’ud did not allow smoking, Churchill went ahead and lit up anyway. He was known to favor Rome Y Julieta cigars and knew all about cigar pairing, often smoking his stogie with a fine whiskey.
Given how prominent Sir Winston Churchill was during his time, how significant the era was to human history, and how open he was about his passion for cigars, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more recognizable name among all the famous people who smoked.
The thirty-fifty president of the United States, John F. Kennedy was also a cigar enthusiast. There is a story that’s still told to this day that involved the president’s love of Cuban cigars. He was an avid smoker of Petit Upmanns and ordered his press secretary Pierre Salinger to round up one thousand of them in twenty-four hours.
While this was definitely short notice, the president also had his reasons for wanting to get his hands on this volume of cigars, considering he was in the process of signing an embargo that will prevent any products from Cuba from entering the United States, and this new embargo included his favorite cigar. Fortunately, the press secretary was able to fill the order in time and actually managed to find a total of twelve hundred cigars. Once the president had his stash of fine cigars, he signed off on the embargo.
It is clear from this tale that JFK had a complicated history with cigars. It was the time of the Cuban missile crisis that made the US-Cuba relationship very fragile and eventually led to the embargo in 1962. Given his fondness for the famouscigars from Cuba, the situation put him in a very difficult situation.
Still, he was able to make the best of it, ultimately finding a way to perform his duties to the best of his abilities and still managing to pursue his passion for cigars.
Fidel Castro was another powerful figure who was never without his favorite cigar.
You will rarely see an old picture of him not smoking or at least holding a cigar in one hand. Along with his fatigue uniform and flowing beard, the cigar encapsulates him the most.
Fidel Castro’s love for cigars came from his father, who introduced them to him. Naturally, when he grew up and came to power, he saw the famous cigars from Cuba as the country’s biggest export. He even became involved in the emergence of the Cohiba Esplendidos.
Back in the 1960s, he learned that the aromatic cigar was smoked by one of his bodyguards. He quickly set up the Laguito Factory and started the production of the now very famous cigar brand.
He had health complications in the beginning of 1985, which caused him to give up his favorite pastime, but he was an avid cigar lover for over forty years. Despite his health issues, he only gave up smoking to set a good example for his people, and would not even smoke in the privacy of his own home. His favorite cigar was the Cohiba Corona Especial.
Mark Twain was the famous author of the novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He was also a very famous cigar smoker whose love for smoking is well documented.
The story goes that Twain smoked a whopping twenty-two cigars a day. Some stories claim that he smoked as many as forty. Oddly enough, he didn’t smoke premium cigars and was known for his low-quality selection of cigars. In fact, he once said he would smoke any type of cigar except a Havana.
He went on to say in an essay that was published in the 1890s that he himself is the best judge in choosing which cigar brands are best for him. It explicitly announced to the whole world in writing his aversion to famous smokes.
While Mark Twain did have some encounters with famous cigars, they were very few and far between. These rare instances when he sampled famous smokes at the time cemented his stand against them.
This comedian was a legend. Many people today grew up watching him on TV’s “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” during the 1950s. He also gave a brilliant performance in “The Sunshine Boys,” which earned him an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor in 1974.
He went on to play other iconic roles in movies like “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” and “Just You and Me, Kid.” However, despite how big his comedic skills are, his love for famouscigars is even bigger.
He was never seen without his favorite cigar and performed his stand-up comedy acts into his late 90s. He always smoked El Producto cigars during his set, despite the fact that he could afford a more expensive cigar. But he claimed he smoked these onstage since they tended to stay lit longer and were packed more tightly than Havana cigars, which is what he was seen smoking often when he wasn’t performing. Burns lived to be one hundred years old and credited his long life to smoking up to fifteen cigars a day over the period of seventy years.
Before he died, he arranged for three of his favorite cigars to be buried with him when the day comes. This might seem like a weird request to some people, but to the most devoted cigar lovers, it is very natural.
His dying wish only shows that, to him, cigars are more than just a habit. They are a passion that he was willing to fight and stand up for, even in the face of anti-tobacco campaigns. It defined him as much as his acting career up to the last day of his life.
Jack Nicholson started smoking cigars back in the 1990s. He is an ex cigarette smoker and found that he ended up smoking half a pack of cigarettes during a round of golf in order to calm his nerves. He made the decision to switch to cigars and this change helped him to relax more on the course.
He had his first Cuban cigar back in the early 1970s because the movie he was making at the time required his character to smoke. Once he picked up smoking on his own in the 1990s he decided to make the switch from cigarettes to cigars a permanent one and continues to smoke Montecristo cigars to this day.
There’s no question that Al Capone was one of the most notorious gangsters in the world. During the 1920s he had a major hand in bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling. He was also known for his propensity for violence. When he was finally arrested for tax evasion, he said goodbye to his freedom by lighting up one of his cherished cigars.
Considered one of the best NBA players of all time, this living legend is fond of smoking Cuban Montecristo cigars. He was often seen smoking on the team’s tour bus and can still be seen smoking his favorite cigar out on the golf course.
Arnold started his love affair with cigars when Sargent Shriver, his father in law, offered him a cigar after dinner one night. He’s been spotted on film and off smoking his large ring gauge cigars, but claims he doesn’t have a favorite and instead chooses to try out different brands and blends of premium cigars.
This actor claims he makes sure when he eats out that it’s at an establishment that will allow him to light up after a good meal. He’s the former owner of the Consolidated Cigar Corp and has continued to partake in his favorite pastime of smoking a fine cigar, especially right after dinner.
This TV commentator and Radio personality started smoking cigars later in life, beginning with Fonsecas, Ashtons, and Macanudos. He then gravitated to Havanas and has been a fan of these cigars ever since.
This English poet and writer and Nobel prize winner was born in Britain and was the heir apparent to Charles Dickens. He was well-known for his stories that relate to British imperialism in India and is best known for his novel titled The Jungle Book.
This robber baron and business tycoon was a very private person and known for his shyness. However, he was also a ruthless businessman. During his career, he helped to save the government from bankruptcy and also helped to create U.S. Steel. He loved to collect art and travel and loved to smoke cigars, of which he was known to smoke more than twenty a day.
Called the father of psychoanalysis, he began smoking at the age of twenty-four and smoked up to twenty cigars a day. He was rarely photographed without a cigar in his hand and often claimed that he couldn’t work without a cigar. He claimed that smoking was one of the greatest pleasures in his life was known to smoke Dutch Liliputanos, Reina Cubanas, and Don Pedros.
This famous action star began his acting career on television, but soon became one of the highest-paid action stars in the world. He is good friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger and is often seen smoking high ring gauge cigars on set and off.
This award-winning actor loved his cigars and often preferred the characters he played to be smokers so he could enjoy a good cigar while he worked. His favorite cigar is the Montecristo number two, which you can still commonly find him smoking when he’s out on the golf course.
The famous author of Citizen Kane, which he wrote when he was just twenty-five years old, was also an influential producer, actor, and loved fine cigars. He always intentionally wrote characters in his stories and films that were cigar smokers and was known for his love of trying out new blends and cigar types and sizes.
This Hollywood icon is considered by many to be the star of the century, for his many hits and iconic onscreen performances. He is also a member of the twenty million per picture club and is generally considered a pretty private person when he’s not making some of the best movies of the century. He is an avid cigar smoker and is said to be a fan of only the finest Cuban cigars.
One of the top stars of his generation, Tom Cruise has starred in movies including Eyes Wide Shut, the Mission Impossible series, and Interview with a Vampire, just to name a few. He is widely known as a cigar aficionado and has been smoking since the 1990s. Cruise is even known to have a standing order for Cuban Cohibas and loves to try new blends of Cuban cigars.
This well-loved actor used cigars to great effects in his films. In his films, he often used big cigars as a symbol of wealth and power and was known to smoke them on and off set.
King Edward VII
This king was famous for the words “gentleman, you make smoke” which are the words he spoke immediately after his coronation in 1901. He ended Britain’s tobacco intolerance that was pronounced in Queen Victoria’s reign. However, his pro cigar stance was hardly new.
The prince of Wales quit his gentlemen’s club back in 1866 due to its non-smoking policy and took over twenty percent of the membership with him. He and his fellow smokers established a new club where cigar smoking was heavily encouraged.
Back in the 90s, Letterman brought cigar notoriety to late-night TV. He often snuck a few puffs off his favorite stogie, a double corona sized cigar, during his commercial breaks. Most times, the camera would catch him in the act, and he’d respond with a look of clear guilt on his face. Many of his late-night guests would often bring him cigars on the show, as gifts.
Starting off Right
If you’re new to cigar smoking, then you may be impressed by the many influential people who are well-known cigar enthusiasts, some of which may have surprised you. If you’re serious about your newest hobby, then you’ll need to learn how to properly store cigars, especially if you’re interested in only premium smokes.
I recommend the Quality Importers Deauville 100 Cigar Humidor, which is a model that’s great for both new and experienced cigar collectors. Aside from storing your cigars correctly, make sure you get out there and try new and exciting blends from cigar manufacturers that have a reputation for producing only the best.
While this is by no means a complete list of the famous smokers throughout history, it does include many of the most influential people. Each of the people on my list had their own preferences in terms of cigar sizes, flavors, and brands, but many were also very willing to try new blends and experience new flavors, which is exactly what this popular and well-loved hobby is all about. Happy Puffing!