Best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture, no-holds-barred duo Cheech and Chong (now back on tour), Cheech Marin is a paradox in the world of entertainment. He is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector, and humanitarian, a man who has enough talent, humor, and intelligence to do just about anything. He is truly a multi-generational star. To this day, Cheech and Chong films remain number one among weekend video rentals, and Cheech is widely acknowledged as a cultural icon. His long-awaited memoir entitled Cheech is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong! was released on March 14, 2017 by Hachette Book Group.
Cheech (real name Richard) Marin was born in South Central Los Angeles and met Tommy Chong in Vancouver, British Columbia as a political refugee. The duo moved back to Los Angeles and proved to be “entertainment gold.” Six of their 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.
During his split with Chong, Cheech wrote, directed, and starred in the comedy Born In East L.A. He appeared in over 20 films, including his scene-stealing role in Tin Cup. On television, Cheech was a sitcom regular before joining Don Johnson on the highly successful CBS drama Nash Bridges (1996-2001). He later had a recurring role on the hit NBC show, Lost, and in recent years, he guest-starred on Rob and Jane the Virgin. Through his popular Disney Pixar animation film roles (Oliver & Company, The Lion King, Cars, and more) and as an author of children’s books such as Cheech the School Bus Driver, Cheech is also a favorite with kids and parents around the world.
In 2009, everyone’s favorite duo reunited after 25 years apart for a national and international comedy tour, the Light Up America reunion tour, selling out everywhere. They also shot a full-length live comedy film Hey Watch This in 2010. The pair followed with subsequent tours, satisfying audiences thirsty to see the pair together. They continue to perform together as their schedules allow.
Cheech is recognized today as a preeminent Chicano art advocate. In the mid-1980s, he began developing what is now arguably the finest private collection of Chicano art. Much of it formed the core of his inaugural exhibition Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 15‐city tour during 2001‐2007 to major art museums across the United States. He states, “Chicano art is American art. My goal is to bring the term ‘Chicano’ to the forefront of the art world.”
Following the success of Chicano Visions, over a dozen additional exhibitions drawn from the Cheech Marin Collection have toured more than 50 major art museums across the United States and in Europe under the direction of Melissa Richardson Banks. In addition, art books have been independently published to accompany many of these exhibitions, including Papel Chicano: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin, Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection, and Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin. Artwork from his collection inspires his work in other ways. For example, the bottle design of Tres Papalote Mezcal, for which Cheech serves as the brand ambassador, was inspired by the contemporary glass sculptures and other works of brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, which are represented his collection.
Furthering his goal to introduce Chicano art to a wider audience, Marin has entered a partnership with the City of Riverside and Riverside Art Museum to create The Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry. Slated to open in 2020, The Cheech will become the permanent home for his more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography; collectively, the most renowned Chicano art collection in the United States.
Cheech is a nationally ranked golfer, active in the charity circuit. Married to Russian-born classical pianist Natasha Marin, the couple resides in Pacific Palisades, California.