Gone are the days of the jazz lounge where you would walk in and be bombarded with the sweet, spicy smell of cigar smoke. Obviously for health reasons, smoking is not allowed in really any public place anymore however, cigar smoking in general has lost some of its essence and appeal to most of society over the last few decades. When you think about or see someone smoking a cigar, what type of characteristics would you describe them as having? Strong, independent, confident, powerful, wealthy, sophisticated; these are just a few ways in which many people would categorize someone smoking a cigar. Cigar smoking is slowly starting to make a comeback in to society, because it is a sure fire way to showcase your power and confidence. If you don’t believe us, here’s a list of famous, powerful men who were known to smoke cigars.
1. Winston Churchill: Of course Churchill is number one on our list of powerful men who smoke cigars. Churchill was the Prime Minister during the rise of Queen Elizabeth, and during the height of World War Two. Churchill was globally recognized for his political strengths and courage, his patriotism, for his writing, and, of course, his love for cigars. Churchill would smoke no matter what the occasion, no matter what his health concerns were, and no matter how much people criticized his smoking habits, “I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form.” Churchill goes down in infamy for his political influence over England, and for his cigars – there’s even a cigar length named after him!
2. John F. Kennedy: The 35th President of the United States was an avid cigar smoker. Kennedy, of course, being the President of a nation held an office of great power and influence over many. He was beloved by the nation, and, unfortunately, is most famous for his assassination and Cuban embargo. A fun fact about Kennedy and his love for cigars is: just 24 hours before signing the Cuban embargo he sent his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, to Cuba to scrounge up 1,200 of his most favorite Cuban cigars. Once Salinger had the cigars, Kennedy signed the embargo and Cuban tobacco has been unavailable to the American public ever since (at least until last year when President Obama lifted the embargo). Although Kennedy had a short run as a powerful leader in United States history, he is still one of the most influential Presidents to this day and was a cigar smoker.
3. Al Capone: One of the most notorious gangsters in American history was also a notorious cigar smoker. Capone lead one of the most prominent mobs in all of Chicago during the 1920s. Capone controlled almost every aspect of Chicago at the prime of his leadership; alcohol, prostitution, gambling, and bootlegging. It wasn’t until he was found for tax evasion that the police could even come close to placing him under arrest. One of Capone’s most famous moments was when he is arrested, and bid farewell to his freedom by lighting up a cigar. Capone was feared, confident, and one of the most powerful men in Chicago during the roaring 20s, and one of his most famous photos is Capone with a cigar in his mouth.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Schwarzenegger is probably one of the most well known celebrities/politicians the world knows. Schwarzenegger is an iconic Hollywood actor known for his action-thrillers and most famous line, “Come with me if you want to live.” Along with that, Schwarzenegger was also the governor of California making many decisions for Californians that helped bring California back to its prime. Schwarzenegger is also a devoted cigar smoker. He was first introduced to cigars by his wife after their first date, and he’s been hooked ever since. Schwarzenegger is a powerful and confident icon in both pop culture and politics, and enjoys cigars on the daily.
5. Carmine “Cigar” Galante: Another powerful man within the gangster industry. Whereas Capone ran Chicago in the 1920s, Galante helped run New York from the 1930s to the 1970s, working with the Bonanno family smuggling heroin from Canada into New York. As time progressed, Galante would spend years in and out of jail, and eventually became the biggest drug lord in all of New York, with the Gambini family close behind; Galante would be murdered by the Gambini family in 1979. Galante’s nickname, Cigar, came from his love and devotion to cigar smoking. He always had a cigar in his mouth, or nearby ready to be smoked when he felt the need to. In fact, he died, and was photographed, with a cigar still in his mouth.
Two of the five powerful men we’ve mentioned were members of elite crime gangs, the mafia if you will. When thinking about powerful men who smoke cigars, our mind almost immediately goes to members of the mafia. Our question is: why is that so? Why do cigars just automatically mesh with mafia leaders or members? There is no definitive answer to this question, however we’ve come up with a few ideas as to why this could be.
1. Power: Obviously, members of the mafia are very powerful and what better way to showcase that power than by smoking a cigar. Cigars are tough, sturdy, and require patience when smoking – all of these are qualities of a successful and powerful mafia boss.
2. Confidence: This somewhat ties in with power, however you don’t have to be confident to be powerful. Confidence is important and beneficial when describing a mafia leader. Galante and Capone oozed confidence when running their businesses, and ran their businesses with a cigar in their mouth. Capone lit up a cigar when he was arrested and being carried away, and Galante was so confident that he had no fear of the Gambini family and was unfortunately murdered with a cigar in his mouth. We don’t know about you, but to us both men just screams confidence.
3. Wealth: This is probably the most important aspect as to why cigars are associated with the mafia. Mafia members and mafia businesses make a ton of money, they are extremely successful if executed correctly; Al Capone is just one prime example of that. Cigars aren’t necessarily cheap. Cigars are unique, hand rolled, and require some of the finest ingredients in the world to make which would categorize them as a luxury item. When smoking a cigar, you’re literally just smoking money and the mafia has a lot of it. By essentially smoking away their money in the form of a cigar, the individual is then presenting to the world and competing mafias just how much money they have, and just how powerful and confident they are.
We’ve mentioned some powerful men that smoke cigars, and gone in to a little detail of why cigars could be associated with the mafia, now let’s get on to the part everyone is secretly hoping we would include. Mafia movies! In pretty much every mafia movie, there is usually someone smoking a cigar. Here are our top five mafia movies:
1. The Godfather: This is the greatest mafia movie there is, and quite possibly the greatest movie in general. Francis Ford Coppola literally transports you into the world of the mafia. Marlon Brando is captivating in his role as the head mafia boss, Don Vito Corleone, of the infamous Corleone crime family. Unfortunate circumstances begin to erupt within this powerful family when handing the business to someone the Corleone family sees as unfit, creating an all out war between multiple families. The movie is filled with suspense, drama, and blood and is sure to get you in the mood for a good cigar.
2. Goodfellas: Martin Scorsese’s biographical film adaptation of the novel Wise Guy introduces viewers to the mob scene in New York from the mid 1950s to the 1980s. Goodfellas captures the essence of the New York mob scene via the Henry Hill gang. Ray Liotta portrays Henry Hill and Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci play his friends James Conway, and Tommy DeVito and all three actors showcase what it is like to be in the mafia and what it takes to work your way up through the ranks. This film was so influential that there is now a smoke shop in New York called “Goodfellas” and you can purchase cigars of all kinds there.
3. The Departed: Another, more contemporary version, of the mafia brought to us by the genius that is Martin Scorsese stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson as the main characters. DiCaprio plays Billy Costigan, an undercover cop, attempting to infiltrate the Irish American mafia run by Frank Costello, Nicholson. Costigan quickly climbs the ranks through trust and is quick to become privy to sensitive information on mob secrets. The real suspense comes from whether or not Costigan can remain undercover, or be discovered by Costello. Although there is not a lot of cigar smoking in this film, Jack Nicholson is an avid cigar smoker and has been featured in multiple cigar aficionado magazines
4. The Untouchables: A contemporary film by Brian De Palma featuring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro about fictionalized federal agents determined to catch Al Capone. These agents utilize unconventional tactics in order to track down Al Capone in order to bring him to justice during the mob wars of the 1920s. Albeit a fictional story, this film captures the core fundamentals of what Al Capone’s mob represented, and what all mobs of the day represented as well. And where there is Al Capone there is most definitely a cigar.
5. Scarface: A classic film again brought to us by Brian De Palma set in Miami during the 1980s features Al Pacino in the lead role of Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who climbs the rank of a powerful drug cartel. Montana dives in to a life of drugs, violence, sex, and money. Montana is an extremely impatient man and climbs the ranks quickly, stepping over anyone who gets in his way, and betraying anyone that isn’t going to be of importance to him in the future making him an easy and vulnerable target for everyone he’s wronged. Being an immigrant of Cuban descent, and Cuba being notorious for it’s cigars, Montana is quite often featured smoking a cigar.
6. Bonus! This isn’t a movie, however it’s one of the greatest representations of mob life we’ve ever seen: The Sopranos. The Sopranos features James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, leader of the fictional New Jersey Soprano family mob. This series allows viewers to see first hand what it is like to be a mob boss as you follow Soprano through his personal life. We see his interactions with family, friends, employees, enemies, competition and with his therapist that give viewers a raw look at the mafia lifestyle. Tony is well known for his cigars in this series as well.
Through this we hope you have gained some knowledge and a new interest in cigars and what a cigar can do for the way society perceives you. Custom cigars would give you even more of an edge as the cigar would then be a representation of you and you could design it in a way that helps aid in your power and confidence. Cigars are notorious for representing power, confidence, and wealth and these examples prove just that.