Fatima (cigarette)

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Fatima print advertisement ca. 1949 featuring Basil Rathbone, star of the Tales of Fatima radio series.
Fatima print advertisement ca. 1951 featuring Jack Webb of Dragnet. The redesigned package removed the veiled woman image.

Fatima Cigarettes (pronounced fa-TEE-ma) was a brand of cigarette produced in the United States by the Liggett & Myers (L&M) tobacco company. The brand dates to the 19th century, and was marketed as an exotic blend of Turkish tobaccos. The name Fatima, a common Turkish or Arabic woman's name, helped bolster the Turkish image. Before around 1950, the package design included a stylized image of a veiled Middle Eastern woman.

The brand is perhaps best remembered today by old time radio buffs. In the late 1940s, L&M converted the brand to a king-sized version and began an extensive radio advertising campaign. Fatima was the sole sponsor of the early years of the Dragnet radio series. The creator and star of Dragnet, Jack Webb, voiced a number of on-air pitches for the brand and appeared in print advertising as well. There was also a short-lived mystery anthology series called Tales of Fatima, hosted by Basil Rathbone. (Anecdotally, a Boston pharmacist who had smoked Fatima's for years, after WW II noted a lack of Turkish tobaccos and wrote the manufacturer with his concerns. They apologized and sent a carton of some other brand they manufactured, even more lacking in any exotic leaf.)

The brand's old-fashioned image caused it to lose market share from the mid-1950s onward, and L&M eventually phased it out by around 1980.

In Dashiell Hammett's "the Dain Curse" originally published in 1929 by Alfred A. Knopf: Quote: "She put it aside and offered me long Russian cigarettes in a white jade box. I apologized for sticking to my Fatimas..." This is the Continental Op character speaking in the first person, as always. The continental Op character is never named.

Quote from the same story, chapter 15: "I sat on the side of the bed, set fire to a Fatima, and cotradicted hïm: ......"

In Dashiell Hammett's "The girl with the silver eyes" (1924) Quote: "I leaned back in my chair and burned half a dozen Fatimas over the job".

A quote from Dashiell Hammett's story "The big knockover" (1927) : ""With a Fatima in mij mouth I called to him, ........."

Also from "The big knockover" quote: "I was asleep before the last draw of smoke from my goodnight Fatima was out of my lungs".

A quote from Dashiell Hammett's story "$106,000 blood money" (1927) : "….. made cavities in a package of Fatimas and thought ........."

Quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1920 novel "This Side of Paradise": “We're the damned middle class, that's what!" he complained to Kerry one day as he lay stretched out on the sofa, consuming a family of Fatimas with contemplative precision.”

In 1913, from a photograph of the first game at Ebbets Field, a large advertisement for the brand can be seen in right field along with a Bull Durham sign. [see "dead ball era" wikipedia for this pic. Please insert link-having current copying problems but the photograph is very educational

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