Edgar Cullman Sr., who cultivated Americans' taste for cigars through General Cigar Co., maker of brands including Macanudo and White Owl, has died. He was 93.
Cullman led the fourth generation of his family's involvement in cigars, which, according to a company history, began in 1848 with Ferdinand Kullman, a wine merchant who immigrated to the United States from Germany. Cullman joined his father's tobacco business in 1944 and, in 1961, led a group of investors in buying a controlling interest in New York-based General Cigar, the producer of cigar brands including White Owl, William Penn and Van Dyck.
Cullman served as chief executive from 1962 to 2005, and as president from 1962 to 1981. As cigars exploded in popularity in the 1990s, General Cigar opened Club Macanudo, a cigar bar in New York.
"We feel very much it's part of a cultural shift, something that is happening throughout our society, a real interest in the finer things in life, a return of the gentleman," his son told Bloomberg Radio in 1997.
The family sold General Cigar in 2005 to Swedish Match AB, maker of Red Man chewing tobacco.
Edgar Meyer Cullman was born on Jan. 7, 1918. His father, Joseph Jr., bought land in the Connecticut River Valley, where tobacco for cigar wrappers is grown, as well as the controlling interest in cigarette maker Benson & Hedges before selling the business to Philip Morris & Co. in the 1950s, the Times said.
Edgar's brother, Joseph III, who died in 2004, was chairman and chief executive of Philip Morris.
Survivors include his wife of 73 years, the former Louise Bloomingdale, of the department store family, according to the Times.