Throughout the majority of his career, comedian George Burns (1896-1996), was rarely seen without his favorite cigar in hand – the El Producto Queens. He reportedly smoked 10-15 cigars each day and lived to be 100. At 98 he was even quoted saying, “If I’d taken my doctor’s advice and quit smoking when he advised me to, I wouldn’t have lived to go to his funeral.” El Producto Queens were such a large part of Burns’ persona that in 1929 he became the brand ambassador.

Though Burns does not make a physical appearance in this advertisement, graphic designer Paul Rand recreates the comedian’s likeness by substituting Burns for a cigar.  Rand brings the “likeness” to life with hands holding Burns’ ever present cigar. The different items incorporated into the representation – the boater hat, cane, and cigar – clearly communicated the association to Burns to an audience familiar with the comedian. (These props were common fixtures of Burns’ in his televised comedy hour also featuring his wife, Gracie Allen).

Julia Pelkofsky is a Master’s Fellow in the Department of Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  She is currently working on her MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design at Parsons, the New School for Design.

10 thoughts on “A Cigar a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Will try to purchase George’s favorite cigar to smoke. Always wondered what cigar brand he smoked!

They completely changed the quality of cigar after George Burns. Made them cheaper in construction and quality. So we will never know the joy of actually smoking the same quality cigar (which was made short filler with full wrapper, not the cheesey homogenized wrappers they use today). So quality at every point in construction is not the same experience of a real George Burns style cigar.

It is called corporate greed personified

I think it is ironic that a man of such great wealth as Mr. George Burns smoked one of the cheapest (low quality) cigars on earth. It may have been a testament to his humble nature. He knew what he liked and he did not feel the need to show off his wealth by smoking cigars that cost $30-$50 each, as many in Hollywood do these days. From what I have read about George Burns over the years he was a very humble man and was always kind to those he worked with. May he Rest In Peace.

for all we know, it was something in the cigar that helped him live to be 100..

I read that the reason George Burns smoked the cheap cigars on the set was because more expensive cigars would go out and he would have to constantly relight them. The cheaper cigars would stay lit thus making them a better prop. I miss George and Gracie, great showman, even greater people.

Thank you for some lovely words about George Burns.
He was a wonderful human being and a funny man. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about the gentleman.
I’m also old enough to remember when the Burns & Allen show was in it’s first run on the CBS television network.. That aside, El Producto CIGARS were affordable even for the workingman but despite they being short filler they were still fine smoking and had a nice aroma and sold as a very popular cigar is their hey-day.
My beloved Dad smoked the El Producto Bouquet , which was in the shape of a Perfecto , but larger.
Dad also smoked Dutch Master Cigars which were in the same quality genre
as El Productos .
Dutch Masters are still around but again not the cigar they were years ago.
The other two’also ran’ brands Dad smoked on and off ; but far less than El Productos were Phillies and Muriel Cigars..
Philllies were a good smoke, but Dad classified Muriels , “ like smoking a Rope “
Lastly what amazes me until this day is that El Productos simply shut down ! Wasn’t anyone interested in capturing that terrific brand and keeping the cigar and manufacture going , because a lot of smokers were without their favorite, and were really lost when the brand disappeared !
And you most accurately said the new version of them; wherever you may be able to find them especially with the dreadful Homogenized leaf don’t do anything to rekindle what El Productos were like years ago .
Thanks very much again for your post and remembrance.

Cigars , wine scotch brandy it’s what you like not how much it cost you think more money better products but remember advertising is what you pay for , put a actor or athlete someone got to pay there outrageous money

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