Cuban Cigar Idol: Orson Welles
Image via Twitter
LEGENDARY DIRECTOR. ACCLAIMED ACTOR. CIGAR CONNOISSEUR
In celebration of Orson Welles’s final film being shown on Netflix – four decades after being created, we have chosen to look back at the legendary icon, a pioneer in film and radio, and a famous connoisseur of Cuban cigars.
FAVOURITE HABANO – There’s Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock – many famous smokers who rarely left their cigars at home. Though Welles may not be as established as the others in the aficionado world, it’s hard to find anyone with more photographs of themselves holding a cigar or having one hang from their mouth. According to Zino Davidoff in his The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar, Welles favoured Montecristo Cigars and Por Larranaga.
From looking at images, it seems he would admire the current trend of thick ring gauges. With changing preferences, cigar sizes are ever increasing. A Cohiba Behike 56 Cigar is a prime example, as well as a Montecristo Open Eagle Cigar – released under the Open Series in 2009 and with a 54 ring gauge. Zino Davidoff’s book also states that Welles would demand his cigar boxes be opened before buying. He would always end purchasing even if he was refused however.
Orson Welles smoking cigars
"use of cigars both personal and in his movies, influenced many"
DIRECTOR INFLUENCE – When Citizen Kane was released in theatres, ticket sales were poor. Media Mogul William Randolph Hearst banned his newspapers from mentioning, and his cinemas from showing, as he knew he was the film’s inspiration. Welles’s talent outperformed Hearst’s power; the film won an Academy Award for best screenplay with a total of nine Academy nominations. In our blog post: The Art Between a Creative and Their Cuban Cigar, we shared Welles’s famous quote: “That’s why I write in so many cigar-smoking heroes and villains who chomp their cigars”.
Young fans began to view Welles as a type of movie hero – a man they were impressionable to. His use of cigars both personal and in his movies, influenced many. An article on Cigar Sanctum, shares how Ernest Hemingway, another cigar enthusiast, gave Welles a cigar ashtray which became one his most treasured belongings. We interviewed John DeCosta – founder and head designer of Cigar Sanctum, and discovered incredible insight on his Cuban cigar views.
Top Left: Rita Hayworth, Bottom Left and Right: Cohiba Behike 56 Cigar
"cigar rolled by renowned torcedor Conchita Marquez"
CUBAN CIGARS IN BETWEEN A FAIRYTALE STORY – Old Hollywood Pinup and glamorous actress Rita Hayworth married Orson Welles in September 1943. Two complete opposites – the former growing up as a dancer and being forced to perform at shows with her father, the latter spoilt by his mother and told he was nothing short of a genius. Their union lasted less than five years, but they had a child together named Rebecca. Once their divorce was announced to the public, Rita informed press, “I can’t take his genius any more”. For a man who cared more about his work than the raising of their child, it seemed an inevitable split. Authors David Camus and Nic Abadzis had other ideas.
As reported in The Guardian, the book The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe, written by the two writers, shares a different tale. They concocted a story where the Hollywood couple split because Hayworth smoked a cigar rolled by renowned tordecor Conchita Marquez. In the book, Marquez has died, and so the cigar is a one-off piece. Hayworth furious about her husband’s cigar habit, raids his humidor and decides to smoke this unique habano.
As dramatic and eccentric as the story may be, it expresses the depths a cigar smoker is willing to go for the love of their Cuban cigars. Zino Davidoff once said “If your wife doesn’t like the aroma of your cigar, change your wife”, while Groucho Marx stated “Given the choice between a woman and a cigar, I will always choose the cigar”. So it seems, that the tale of Welles leaving his wife due to smoking one of his most precious cigars, is not so bizarre after all.
Orson Welles is forever cemented in history for his break-out Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai and a Touch of Evil. He successfully held numerous titles – writer – actor – director – producer. Though as cigar lovers, we remember him best for the Cuban cigars online he adored to smoke.