In this age of previously unimaginable technological advancements, with the world’s knowledge at my fingertips, what do I do with this god-like power over the largest collection of data ever compiled? Usually…I watch streaming video content.
I know…I know, but I like the dopamine.
Those of a certain age will remember the A-Team. Not the film, but the television show from decades prior. I’d enjoyed the show as a kid but mostly because it was like MacGuyver but with a whole team of MacGuyvers. Upon recently revisiting the show all these decades later, I came to a better understanding of why these larger than life characters were able to jump off the screen into America’s homes every week.
Murdoch was the loveable wildcard, loyal but unpredictable. Face was the persuasive one, so persuasive that you never really knew where a given con began and ended. The beloved Mr. T played tough B.A. Baracus, whose only identifiable weakness was a fear of flying. At the helm of them all, George Peppard played Hannibal – the cigar smoking commando leading this ragtag bunch of special operatives.
So why am I bringing this to you? Even with all the action, explosions, and daring stunts the show was known for – what always stood out above it all was Peppard’s Hannibal character happily puffing away on a cigar after a successful operation…all the while we the viewer are waiting for his iconic “I love it when a plan comes together” line.
It remains one of the few instances in traditional media where the cigar smoker on screen is a hero rather than a villain. Is Colombo really the only other one? Please let me know in the comments if I’m skipping over anyone that I’ll scold myself for forgetting later.
Upon coming to that realization, I was immediately compelled to find out what cigar his A-Team character was smoking. There is an entirely different show starring Peppard – this one called “Banacek” about a wealthy finder of lost and stolen artworks. Much to my amusement, this Banacek character also smokes cigars all episode long and they looked to be at least very similar to the one’s smoked on A-Team.
After a little digging and a lot of fun, I found out that neither of the characters were written as cigar smokers. Those cigars were actually George Peppard’s personal panetelas from his own private collection. A frequent guest of New York’s famed 21 Club, Peppard grew fond of the cigars that the club had commissioned and so he acquired a large stock of them. On both television show productions, there appears by all accounts to have simply came a day where – while delivering the lines for a given scene – Peppard nonchalantly reached into his breast pocket, pulled out a cigar, and lit it. Nobody pushed back, and he just kept doing it.
In a way it all reminds me of Robert Downey Jr. famously hiding snacks around the Marvel sets – so whenever you see him eating on screen it’s not in the script and the other actors are doing their best to just go with it.
Fast forwarding to today, the famous 21 Club has been closed permanently after a century of serving heads of state, icons like Frank Sinatra, and of course our brother of the leaf – the late Mr. George Peppard. The venue will become something else, but cigars it bore will live on as long as our technology allows us to see them.
Peppard’s affinity for cigars has since been further memorialized in Simpson’s lore via Bill Hader’s “Manacek” appearance.
I just love that he enjoyed cigars so much that he weaved them into the very fabric of his art and work. Do any of you have any fun cigar related tidbits like this? I’d love to hear about them!