~ Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame
Who shaped cigar culture? From a small tribe of native peoples in what became the nation of Cuba, to European aristocrats. From aristocrats to authors and world-builders. Businessmen, actors, politicians, thinkers, movers and shakers. All of us have had a hand in the making of cigar culture.
This list is devoted to acknowledging the most famous (or infamous) names in that long series of cigar ambassadors.
~ First Generation
Below are famous people who were known for their love of cigars at the inception of cigar history.
^ Priests of Colba
The original tobacco users. The tribal priests of Colba, now called Cuba, believed that the plant we now call tobacco had magic powers. They rolled the leaves into a plug they smoked. This ancient form of the cigar was called the tobacco. Eventually, the name tagged to the plant.
Credited as being the first European to access tobacco, Christopher Columbus brought a few seeds back with him when he departed from Cuba. This was the inception of tobacco product testing in the Iberian peninsula.
After arriving in Cuba in November 1492, which Columbus thought was the Asian coast, Columbus sent Torres and de Jerez inland to explore the country and to contact its ruler. The two men were received in an Indian village where they saw the native custom of drying leaves, inserting them in cane pipes, burning them, and inhaling the smoke.
^ Jean Nicot and the Monks of Malta
A French diplomat, Nicot was the first to introduce tobacco to France. He is nicotine’s namesake.
Nicot was 29 when the French government asked him to go to Portugal. His job was simple, and a bit depressing. He was to arrange the marriage of then six-year-old princess Margaret of Valois to the then five-year-old King Sebastian of Portugal.
As you’ll see in our world history of Cuban cigars, the Portuguese tried their hand at tobacco cultivation for a time. Nicot picked some up while he was, including some snuff. The Father Superior of Malta loved tobacco with all his monks.
Soon the high society French were all enjoying tobacco. They named the plant Nicotina in honor of Nicot. Over the years, the name the French gave tobacco was used for its chemical base instead.
~ Authors and Leaders
^ Mark Twain
Mark Twain is the literary genius alter ego of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Clemens was a river boat operator down the old Mississippi during the Pioneer era of our history. If men could be furnaces, that would be Mark Twain. He smoked up to 40 cigars a day at maximum. His minimum was said to be something like 25.
We are aware that these numbers sound exaggerated, and it’s a possibility that they were. Still, they stand as a testament to a man who loved all cigar save only one. For some reason, he did not care for Havana.
The author of such works as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and more famously Tom Sawyer Mark Twain had a wild sense of cigar humor. Once, he looted his friend’s humidor, swapping the labels on a fancy blend of cigars for his cheap and disgusting favorites. When he re-gifted them to his friends, they threw them away in revulsion. The man whose humidor was ransacked was convinced one day Mark Twain would be shot for offering those nasty blends to polite company.
The famous writer wasn’t a multi-brand devoted man. He had one blend of choice. His bartender remembered him for a refined love of Havanas. It seems that expatriate life in Cuba had a hand in shaping that taste.
He carried England through the dark days of the Blitzkrieg. He did it with a cigar in hand. Winston Churchill was one of the most steady and stellar people to ever preside over the free world. His words of wisdom changed the narrative of World War 2. All thewhile, he kept his poise composed and his humidor filled to bursting.
He carried England through the dark days of the Blitzkrieg. He did it with a cigar in hand. Winston Churchill was one of the most steady and stellar people to ever preside over the free world. His words of wisdom changed the narrative of World War 2. All the while, he kept his poise composed and his humidor filled to bursting.
Hollywood has glorified the cigar connoisseur villain archetype. Possibly, Fidel Castro had some bearing on this television trope. Fidel Castro was the dictator of Cuba during the Kennedy Presidency. This is the historical period when the infamous trade embargo between the United States and Cuba was enforced.
Castro was known for propelling the Cohiba brand into worldwide fame. You can read more about the inception of Cohibas in our Cuban brand-centric history.
The President who lead our country during civil rights and trade embargos. He was a man at the face of trying and exciting times. His love for Cubans drove him to rack up on as many as he could buy before he enforced the embargo.
He was probably the most famous executive of the automotive innovation industry before Elon Musk took the stage. Iacocca was known to light a Cohiba when a great deal was struck. His celebratory tradition has stuck with all of us to this day.
The face of more than one iconic sci-fi film franchises, the Governor of California has a cultivated his cigar enthusiasm over time. His humidor has been part of silver screen appearances.
The actor was almost more legendary than his iconic cowboy roles. A family man with a persona that was larger than life, John Wayne was an avid cigar enthusiast.
Tom Cruise was famous for his love of cigar-smoking earlier in his career. We’re not certain if he is still an aficionado since he converted to Scientology. While he was still married to Nicole Kidman, Cruise was noted for gifting cigar-themed presents to his Hollywood peers. He and Kidman gifted Demi Moore with a beautiful travel humidor for her birthday on one occasion.
When you were a kid, you knew him as Rambo. He’s been other iconic roles. Rocky, the loveable down-on-his-luck boxer. The fearless leader in The Expendables. Stallone has played everything from hometown heroes to hitmen. He christens his classic image with a love of premium and rare cigars. Some of the blends he enjoys include Fuente and Fuente Opus X.
Famous for many “gangster” roles, Al Pacino himself is an avid cigar aficionado. He was iconic for the role of Tony Montana in Scarface. For the sake of this role, he is a legend in cigar circles.
Recently, he’s been involved in politics, but DeNiro’s real claim to fame has been the gangster film universe. His name is almost known synonymously with Pacino. He’s also known on screen as the homicidal maniac who stalked a family all-over California smoking on a Casa Blanca Jeroboam Maduro.
Jack Nicholson has been one of the showcase faces of the Stephen King film adaption franchise. Once a cigarette chainsmoker, Nicholson had grown weary of burning through pack after pack during his golf ses
sions. He switched to cigars for their soothing nature. He has developed a cultured love of Montecristo.
This man carried us through sweeping eras of cinematic greatness. He was at the masthead of Star Wars. He was Indiana Jones. He was and is Blade Runner. He’s worn badges, slung whips and guns, lived with the Amish, fought the IRA. He’s even played in softer romantic dramas when he’s felt like it. Ford’s raw honesty on the screen never fails to amaze as he still guides 20 million dollar franchises even into his elder years.
He is a man who loves solace. Reveling in the relaxation of cigars, he’s been known to prefer the company of his family and ranch life. He smokes in that backdrop of solitude, and array of different blends. What better way for a film legend to spend his golden years?
This list would be nowhere near complete without Iron Man. Rather, the guy behind the on-screen Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. is Hollywood’s comeback kid. Having overcome demons of former addiction and incarceration, the man has made his mark on classic pop culture cinema. He is an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which is well-known as one of the highest grossing film franchises in cinematic history.
Downey is often photographed behind a variety of stogies. This adds to his class act that has a both charismatic superstar and everyman attributes.
If you thought of Pulp Fiction first, no one blames you. John Travolta has been in many more films than that one infamous title. He was also a famous dancer for a while. Travolta has an expensive taste for his humidor. He smokes Davidoffs, Dunhills, and Montecristos to name a few.
This is the actor behind iconic roles such as the Dude Lebowski. Bridges has played an array of characters of varying types, from the White Russian fan #1 to hardened Western sheriffs. Off screen, he enjoys relaxing hikes. He will often watch the sunset accompanied by premium cigar brands like Fuente Don Carlos or Padron.
Say what? You thought it would be only guys on this list, eh? Ladies, take no offense. Cigars are more commonly associated as a guy’s pastime. Be that as it may, a few famous ladies have share the love of cigar culture. Goldberg is one of them. She is more commonly known for her presence on The View but she was made famous by starring in The Color Purple and Ghost. While some sources say she prefers small cigars, she’s known to smoke a full-sized Cohiba now and then. Whatever her preference, cheers to the woman who bears no standard classification.
Gibson has had a unique carrier that has been made famous by religious film directing exploits in recent years. Before that, he was known for the buddy cop franchises Lethal Weapon. He also starred in historical dramas like Braveheart and The Patriot. We’ve even seen him tackle the bridge between science fiction and the supernatural when he played the father in M. N. Shyamalan’s Signs.
Given his religious persona, some might be surprised to know that Gibson is a cigar enthusiast. He has been with a passion. To the point that he threw carrier caution to the wind all to play a tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking.
You already knew about Moore’s cigar enthusiasm from the Tom Cruise section. Still, why not add her to the list? She is one of only two women on it so far.
Moore is known to be partial to smaller cigars, which seems to be common among lady smokers. Of this selection, she enjoys Montecristo Joyita. She will tackle a larger cigar now and then. In this case, she enjoys Montecristo No. 2 and Cohiba No. 2.
Cage has been known for his assorted cast of both bizarre and heroic characters. He’s played everything from gunslingers, to master thieves, to eccentric writers. Recently, you’ll remember him from titles like Mandy, Drive Angry, or Pay the Ghost. In his off-screen life, he loves both cigars and comic books. An excellent combination, in our opinion.
In more recent films, Keitel played the FBI agent who foiled Nicolas Cage’s character in National Treasure. He is a Habanos lover in his private life. Such is his love of cigars that he starred as a Brooklyn cigar lounge manager in the 1995 film Smoke.
The story of cigars as a part of our culture continues to grow. These names go down in history as icons that represent cigars, but in a way cigars also represent them. Cigars are a staple of class and aptitude. They shape the quiet circles of everyday people and the most powerful. They unite us with a mutual sense of luxury despite our social status.
Cigars are a staple of the human experience. Despite potential health implications, all can agree. They won’t soon disappear from our history books. Tomorrows movers and shakers, thinkers and builders, will have cigars in their hands. They will be the music makers, the dreamers, those who lifted skyscrapers into the stars.
We just had the wildest thought. One day, this list might have your name on it. If one thing a hall of fame proves, it showcases those creatives who took their lives to the next level. Class and style choices painted a backdrop they climbed the ranks in. You can learn more about personal style tutorials in our blog.