Four Famous Fictional Cigar Smokers
Cigar smoking enjoyed an abrupt, and steep, spike in popularity during the 1990s, after years of decline. Cigar bars and shops sprang up even in midsize towns and cities, while profits experienced heady growth. But during all the years between the industry’s heyday and this 1990s revival, these fictional cigar smokers from stage, screen and literature never stopped puffing away.
This tuxedo-clad, luxury-obsessed, cynical secret agent first appeared in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale, in which the young Bond, a recent addition to the “00” (double-o) ranks of the British Secret Intelligence Service, proves his mettle by winning a high-stakes game of roulette against industrialist/rogue villain Hugo Drax. The success of this novel led to a long-running film series, television adaptations, many Fleming-penned sequels and – after Fleming’s death – various new sequels by such authors as John Gardner, Charlie Higson and even Kingsley Amis.
Perhaps his biggest mark has been made on the medium of film, where his adventures have been followed by millions who’ve never read the Fleming novels or their offspring. Sean Connery made the character an icon in such films as Dr. No (1962), Goldfinger (1964) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971), with his old-blooded suavity and crackling, slightly Scots-inflected accent (“I’ll play yer game, y’rogue”).
Bond has been played with great deftness and assurance by actors Timothy Dalton and Pierce Bronson as well, though Roger Moore, with his painted-on hair and flippant manner, kept the role the longest (from 1973’s Live and Let Die all the way to 1985’s A View To a Kill).
Most recently, Daniel Craig has injected the role with a new pathos and toughness, in 2006’s Casino Royale, perhaps the most critically-lauded Bond film yet. (But spare a thought for poor George Lazenby, who essayed the role in 1969’s From Her Majesty’s Secret Service – this writer’s personal favorite.)
Bond is a heavy smoker, and a discriminating one. He smokes both cigars and cigarettes, preferring a blend of Balkan and Turkish tobacco with a high tar content. (Recent Bond movies have curtailed this habit somewhat.)
Like so many precocious adolescents, Holden Caulfield enjoys a good cigar – besides the taste, it’s a rite of passage for a soul that seems irretrievably trapped in transit. In J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye – for many readers, the great American novel of adolescence, though it had and continues to have its detractors – Holden runs away from his boarding school, Pencey Prep, condemning what he considers its “phoniness,” and spends a memorably disjointed weekend in New York City looking for something worth hanging his life onto.
He visits old friends, tries (and fails) to lose his virginity, drinks himself into semicoherence, and is hit on by one of his old teachers. Along the way, he treats readers to his reflections on the dishonesty, image-consciousness, and hypocrisy of adult society, sexual politics, and popular culture “I hate the movies!” while displaying, and rebuking himself for, some of these same traits. (“You’re always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to people you’re not glad to’ve met at all.”) He washes away obscene graffiti written near the site of his old elementary school, and wishes that he could rescue his younger sister, Phoebe, from society’s various affronts to childhood innocence; but, finally, he realizes that nobody can scrub all the dirt from life, and it’s foolish to try.
Perry White/J. Jonah Jameson
What would a superhero be without his secret identity – and without the cigar-chomping editor-in-chief who makes that secret identity’s life painful? Perry White, the larger-than-life editor of the Daily Planet, first appeared in the seventh issue of Superman (1940), and has bedeviled the existence of Clark Kent (that paper’s mild-mannered reporter) ever since. He is rarely pictured without his cigar. He is also a fan of Elvis.
J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the New York-based Daily Bugle, is just as crusty in his demeanor as Perry White, but, as the editor of a Rupert Murdoch-ish sensationalist tabloid, his sense of ethics don’t match those of his Daily Planet colleague. When Spider-Man begins his New York crimefighting career, Jameson wages a smear campaign against the hero – not knowing that one of his many underpaid freelance employees, photographer Peter Parker, is Spider-Man’s alter ego. But Jameson has a good side – as a young reporter he waged similarly tireless campaigns against organized crime and in support of civil rights.