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Danny DeVito & His Favorite Cigars

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

You know Danny DeVito. He plays the rapscallion “Frank Reynolds” on the hit TV comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If, however, that’s all you know of DeVito’s work, you’ve missed quite a bit of superb acting, directing, and producing. DeVito began his career in off-Broadway theater and played his way into the hearts of Americans on the small and big screens. It wasn’t until he co-starred with a much larger actor that DeVito, 4-feet, 10-inches tall, began his love affair with cigars.

History of Danny DeVito & Cigars

The way DeVito himself tells the story of how he began smoking cigars regularly, he was working on the film Twins (1987) with co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger (reportedly between 5’11” and 6’2” tall) who gave DeVito a dozen pastries. Schwarzenegger also gave DeVito a box of cigars. DeVito swore that he did not eat all the sweets but did smoke all the cigars. Before that, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, cigars were a rare treat, part of a celebration or special occasion. This was around the time DeVito was playing “Louie DePalma,” the dispatcher on the super-successful sitcom, Taxi, and he and the other actors would often get together and open a box of Cuban cigars.

Danny DeVito’s Favorite Cigars

DeVito, born in 1944, was exposed to cigars early on growing up in New Jersey. His father smoked DeNobilis, the Pennsylvania-made, Toscano-style stogie that Clint Eastwood favored in spaghetti westerns. DeVito never took to them, instead, much later in life, developing a taste for more expensive smokes, all Cuban. After polishing off the box from Schwarzenegger, DeVito began smoking Cohibas, then switched to the Partagas Serie D No. 4. Later, he moved to Diplomaticos. Like most of us, DeVito varies the cigars he smokes.

"Now I'm starting to have a big leaning toward Bolivars," DeVito said in a Cigar Aficionado interview in 1996. "It depends on my mood and where I am and what I'm doing. When I'm not working on a movie, I like to get up in the morning and take the kids to school, come home and read and work out and have a good lunch and come outside and fire up. A Bolivar seems nice then."

These days, DeVito seems to have gone back to the D-4.

DeVito, Cigar Raconteur

DeVito is as fond of telling cigar stories as he is smoking cigars. His favorite cigar story was relayed in the Cigar Aficionado issue whose cover he graced.

"I was flying to Europe right after we finished The War of the Roses (1989). It was an all-night flight. We had a great meal and they were going to pour some Port and I had a stogie with me and there were only a handful of people in first class. I had had a couple of drinks and I was with friends and I was feeling good. It was just the perfect time for a nice stogie. The flight attendants had been real friendly, so I said, 'Boy, I would really love to fire up now.' They said, 'You really can't.' I asked why not. They said the passengers would be really upset. I said, 'What if I asked every passenger on the plane—first class, coach, everyone—if they minded?' One of the flight attendants said, 'Well, OK, if you get everyone's permission.'

His mission was clear.

"I got up and walked the full length of the plane and said hello to everyone who was awake and asked if I could smoke. Everyone said OK. But there was one guy in the back of the first-class cabin who said, 'There is no way you are going to light up a cigar on this airplane' "—DeVito smiles his slyly malevolent movie smile—"'unless you give me one.' It was the most enjoyable transatlantic flight I ever had."

DeVito likes to smoke cigars when he’s working. On the set of the 1996 Matilda, which DeVito starred and directed, he lit up a cigar once. He was told it was against fire department regulations. He promised that he wouldn’t do it again. "But they [the studio] hired a full-time fireman to keep an eye on me anyway—and they made us pay for it." DeVito was not amused.

The story has a happy ending. The crew on the film put up a special smoking tent just outside the soundstage. They set up chairs, a table, a phone, plants, and a big ashtray. Being nice to the crew is always a good idea. And it’s also a good idea for the crew to keep the boss happy.

“I like to smoke when I'm working," DeVito said. "Usually, I smoke one cigar a day, after lunch, but when I'm working, I smoke more. It helps relax me."

Yeah, we know what you mean.

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