By Luzzie Normand is a cigar enthusiast and freelance blogger.
While other tobacco products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco fell victim to anti-smoking campaigns, the cigar has remained firmly entrenched in popular culture. The popularity and iconic status of the cigar can be attributed, in part, to the fame and status of the people who smoke them. During the last two centuries, several incredible historical figures have been enthusiastic cigar-smokers. Below, you’ll find a list of famous people who helped cement the cigar’s status as history’s favorite luxury item:
Born Samuel Clemens in 1835, the great American author and humorist wasn’t just wordsmith with a wicked mustache—he was also a true master of the cigar. According to Cigar Aficionado, he smoked upwards of 22 cigars per day. He loved to smoke while he wrote, among other things. For Clemens, every activity was better when it was accompanied by a cigar and, for the most part, he wasn’t wrong.
Search Groucho on the web and you’re likely to find an abundance of images of the famous comedian with a cigar firmly planted in the corner of his mouth. Along with his glasses and mustache, the cigar was one of his defining characteristics. People came to expect it. Without the cigar, he simply wasn’t Groucho.
Sir Winston Churchill
The twice-serving Prime Minister of Great Britain in the 1940’s and 50’s was one of the defining figures during World War II. A great many photographs from the era show him firmly enjoying a cigar. Like Twain, Churchill’s love for the cigar was forever immortalized with his own size of cigar—the Churchill (7” x 47-50 ring gage).
John F. Kennedy
The 35th President of the United States loved his Petit Upmanns. In fact, he went out of his way to get his hands on one-thousand of them before finalizing the trade embargo he put on Cuba. Kennedy and his adversary, Fidel Castro, were often seen with a cigar in their mouths. Who can blame either of them? It was the height of the Cold War—tensions were high, and even world leaders need something to take the edge off every once in a while.
In Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns from the mid-1960s, Clint’s character Blondie seems to constantly puffing away on a cigar. This is especially true in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” where Blondie’s cigar chomping habits become a minor plot point. Not only did Eastwood make cigar smoking look cool, he made it look completely natural.