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Six Comedians Known for Their Trademark Cigars

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014



There are some comedians who become known for trademarks like an arrow through the head or a mallet used to smash watermelons. Other have a more subtle trademark, the cigar. It’s the one comic accessory that comedians have on and off stage. Some use it as a prop, others as a lifestyle as well. But there’s something relaxing about a comedian with a cigar. And something about comedy that goes hand-in-hand with a cigar. Here’s six comedians that are known for their smoking habits as well as their comedy.

Groucho Marx: Groucho Marx’s cigar became just as iconic as his painted on mustache or bent over walk. He and his brothers made some of Hollywood’s greatest classic comedy movies during the 1930s including Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup. Even though Groucho loved his cigars, he never lit one while filming a movie. His concern was a continuity issue. He didn’t want to have to keep making the director check on how long his cigar was from take to take. So, he kept it unlit. Even though, he didn’t light up on the movie set, on television it was a different story. As host of “You Bet Your Life”, Groucho smoked all through episodes of the TV game show. Groucho Marx was so well known for his cigar that it became the subject of an urban myth. As urban legend has it, Groucho was interviewing a contestant who said she had a dozen kids. Groucho asked her why and her response was that she loved her husband. Groucho quickly replied, “I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth once in awhile”. Groucho Marx claimed it never happened and there is obviously no video of it.

Here a contestant on “You Bet Your Life” gets Groucho Marx to put out his famous cigar.

Milton Berle:   Comedian Milton Berle’s love for cigars began when he was a kid actor. His manager had booked him on an entertainment cruise to Havana, Cuba. There, he met other kids rolling and selling cigars and tried one. He instantly became sick and hooked on cigars for the rest of this life. Although, he didn’t enjoy them on stage. The man who became known as “Mr. Television” and “Uncle Miltie” to TV audiences across the country,  kept his trademark cigar with him while performing, but never lit it until his act was over. His philosophy was that once you stopped to light a cigar on stage, you immediately lose the audience. Later in life, Milton Berle was known to keep two humidors in his home. One for his beloved Havanas and the other for less expensive brands for guests.

Ernie Kovacs:  Ernie Kovacs was as big of a television star as you could find in the late 1950s and early 60s. He hosted a number of TV shows and specials including General Electric Theater, Goodyear Theater and The Ernie Kovacs Show. He consistently had his cigar with him. This made him very appealing to sponsors. Dutch Masters was an advertiser that followed Kovacs around as he moved to different TV projects. The cigar company gave him free reign to produce the Dutch Masters commercials for them. Many times, he would start the commercial in the network control room and then throw it to a pre-produced sketch endorsing the cigars. To all of America, Ernie Kovacs was a Dutch Masters man. But that was only on television. Off air, he didn’t go near them. He only smoked Havanas and Cuban Double Coronas. He would smoke up to 20 cigars a day, a habit that started before his show business career when he worked as a cigar salesman.

Here’s one of Ernie Kovacs’ commercials for Dutch Masters.

Alan King:  Starting out in the Catskills’ Borscht Belt, Alan King made a name for himself as a comedian in the 1950s. He went on to make several television appearances as a regular on the “Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” and the “Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts”. He also had a film career that included movies like “Casino” and “Night and the City”. Throughout his stand up career, he and his cigar became synonymous. King once said that he would have to keep a cigar with him at all times because people would stop him and ask where it was. He also realized that his audiences demanded that he appear with a cigar. King said that he had to take the cigar with him on stage or else the audience thought something was off. But he found after awhile that the cigar was getting in the way of his stage work. So, he would take the stage with a cigar, a stool and a glass of gin or scotch. After awhile of smoking his cigar, he would set it on the stool and leave it there for the rest of the performance. He said that was the only way he could still do act and not have to smoke all through it.

George Burns: He smoked cigars as a comedian, on the Burns and Allen television show and he smoked as God in the movies. George Burns loved his cigars and claimed to have smoked 10 to 15 of them everyday. George actually claims it’s why he lived so long. He gave his cigar habit all the credit for him making it to 100 years old. One of his favorite jokes was that if he had quit when his doctor told him to he wouldn’t have lived long enough to go to his funeral. George Burns started enjoying cigars when he was 14 years old and never stopped. His favorites were El Producto cigars. He was reported to have been buried with some. While other comedians from his era were enjoying Cubans, George thought they were wrapped to tight for his taste and to take on stage. He felt having to keep relighting a cigar was an audience killer. Unlike Ernie Kovacs, George Burns did commercials for El Productos and also enjoyed them off camera.

George Burns for El Producto cigars.

Ron White:  This cigar loving co-founder of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour won’t perform anywhere his cigar is not welcomed. He makes sure it is agreed to in writing that he can smoke on stage in the theaters and auditoriums that he plays. Ron says it’s not an option. If he doesn’t have his cigar with him on stage, he won’t know what to do with his hands. When he’s not performing, Ron White is just as serious about his cigars. He says, he winds down after a show with a glass of scotch and a good cigar. Both always find their way on stage as well. His cigar of choice is a Davidoff brand. However on special occasions, he says he loves a Romeo y Julieta Churchill. If you’re waiting for him to give up his cigar smoking on stage, it could be awhile. Ron says he will only consider it after people aren’t buying tickets anymore. Until then, it’s “F*** you”.


Photo credit to Interrobang.

via http://theinterrobang.com/comedian-cigar-box-6-comedians-known-cigars/


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