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Cheech Marin

Cheech Marin is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector and humanitarian. He is best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture, no-holds-barred duo Cheech and Chong. To this day, Cheech and Chong films remain popular video rentals, and Cheech is widely acknowledged as a cultural icon.

Cheech (real name Richard) Marin was born July 13, 1946 in South Central Los Angeles and raised in Granada Hills, a suburb in the San Fernando Valley. After attending California State University, Northridge to study English, he left school – eight credits short of a degree. However, in 2004, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the university.

Moving to Vancouver, British Columbia as a political refugee, Cheech met Tommy Chong, who owned a topless club. Cheech worked there for nine months, combining music and improvisational comedy in a troupe called City Works. Eventually, Cheech and Chong teamed up and moved back to Los Angeles. They performed their stand-up/music act at clubs all over Los Angeles until they were discovered at the Troubadour by music industry magnate Lou Adler. Between 1972 and 1985, they released nine albums: Cheech and Chong, Big Bambú, Los Cochinos (1973), Cheech and Chong Wedding Album (1974), Sleeping Beauty, Up In Smoke (soundtrack), Let's Make a New Dope Deal, Cheech and Chong's Greatest Hits, Get Out of My Room. Big Bambú became the largest-selling comedy recording of all time, retaining that distinction for many years. Six of the albums went gold, four were nominated for Grammys, and Los Cochinos won the 1973 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording.

The critically acclaimed duo made a fluid transition to films, starring in eight features together. The first, Up In Smoke, was the highest grossing comedy of 1978, topping $100 million at the box office. Others were heech and Chong's Next Movie (1980), Nice Dreams (1981), Things Are Tough All Over, Cheech and Chong: Still Smoking, and The Corsican Brothers. They co-wrote all of the films, with Chong receiving sole directing credit for several, while Marin did some uncredited co-direction. The duo also made guest appearances in Yellowbeard and Martin Scorsese's After Hours.

In 2005, Cheech and Chong reunited for the first time in more than a decade when they were honored at the Aspen Comedy Festival. On April 20, 2008, they appeared together at a commemorative screening of Up in Smoke at the Arclight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks.

After splitting with Chong, Cheech wrote, directed, and starred in Universal's hit comedy Born In East L.A., which in 1987 won the Glauber Rocha International Critics Award and Grand Coral Prize for Best Picture, as well as Best Screenplay at the Havana Film Festival. Marin's individual acting career has also been very fruitful. He has appeared in over 20 films, including his scene-stealing role in Tin Cup (1996), and six of Robert Rodriguez's movies, including Desperado (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003).

Cheech made his television debut as a sitcom regular on the The Golden Palace before joining Don Johnson on the highly successful CBS drama Nash Bridges. Cheech later appeared on Judging Amy, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy.

Recent film credits include The Perfect Game, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Race to Witch Mountain, and the television movie The Miracle of Dommatina. In 2005, Marin directed the Broadway production of Latinologues, a collection of comedic, poignant monologues revealing the Latino life in America.br />

Cheechis a favorite with children around the world through his many roles in animated movies and music projects. He began lending his distinctive vocal talents to cartoon characters with his winning portrayal of a peppy Chihuahua in Disney's animated Oliver & Company (1988). He then teamed with Whoopi Goldberg and Jim Cummings to play hyenas in Disney's animated blockbuster The Lion King, and played Ramon in Pixar's Cars.

Cheech has also maintained his popularity with the children's audience through his role as Uncle Feliz Gumm in Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids film trilogy and through his phenomenally successful bilingual children's albums My Name Is Cheech, The School Bus Driver and "My Name Is Cheech, The School Bus Driver: Coast To Coast." The Los Angeles Unified School District uses one of the songs featured in the albums to teach kids about how to mix and use colors. In 2007, HarperCollins Children's Books released Spanish and English versions of his Cheech, The School Bus Driver, based on the album's character. His second children's book, Captain Cheech, was released in July 2008, and a third, Cheech and the Spooky Ghost Bus, in 2009.

A third-generation Mexican American, Cheech has been recognized for his work on behalf of Latinos by the Imagen Foundation with its 2000 Creative Achievement Award and by the National Council of La Raza and Kraft Foods with the 1999 ALMA Community Service Award. In 2007, he received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts for his contributions to the creative arts from Otis College of Art and Design, and received the inaugural Legacy Award for Arts Advocacy from the Smithsonian Latino Center. He currently serves on the boards of the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Cheech contributes a lot of time and energy to promoting Chicano art. Since the mid-1980s, he has amassed a renowned private collection of Chicano art. Much of it formed the core of his national exhibition Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 12-city tour during 2001-2007 to major U.S. art museums.

Cheech is a nationally ranked golfer active in the charity golf circuit. His line of gourmet hot sauces is sold nationwide.

Cheechis married to Russian-born classical pianist Natasha Marin (formerly Natasha Rubin).

Note: This profile was written in or before 2011.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Cheech Marin Facts

Birth NameRichard Marin
OccupationActor, Comedian
BirthdayJuly 13, 1946 (77)
BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, USA
Height5' 6" (1m68)  How tall is Cheech Marin compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Tales From Earthsea
Oliver and Company
Oliver & Company
Up In Smoke
Shrimp on the Barbie
Spy Kids
The Great White Hype
The Lion King
The Spy Kids Trilogy
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