20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Actor And Comedian Cheech Marin
Richard Anthony Marin, or simply known as Cheech, is one of the most recognizable Latinos in film mostly due to his role in the hippie counterculture film series “Cheech & Chong.” The 72-year-old comedian has starred in over 20 films since 1978 but has done more than just act. He is a stand-up comedian, actor, voice actor, writer and activist whose made an huge impact on Latino pop culture. Here are a few facts you may not know about the man we all know as Cheech.
1. Cheech grew up in South Los Angeles.
South LA gave him many of the ideas and skits he used throughout his movie career including the film “Born in East L.A.” It was also there where he developed a reputation as a class clown and sang in his friends’ bands.
2. He was nicknamed “Cheech”after fried pork.
He was Richard Anthony Marin, but nicknamed Cheech as a kid because his uncle said he looked like a little chicharrón (fried pork rind). The name stuck with him growing up and he is now infamously known after the very popular Mexican snack.
3. He voiced several Disney animated films, most notably as a Hyena in the Lion King.
He has provided his voice in Disney animated films like “Oliver and Company,” “The Lion King,” “Cars,” and most recently “Coco.” Don’t be surprised if the next time you’re watching a Disney movie and you hear Cheech.
4. Cheech is a veteran writer and an author.
Cheech recently published an autobiography, “Cheech Is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong,” about his life and the story behind “Cheech and Chong.” He also wrote for Poppin Magazine, a Canadian underground rock magazine and written a handful of children’s books.
5. Marin is a frequent collaborator with director Robert Rodriguez.
Robert Rodriguez is one of the most notable Latino directors in the film industry and it’s no surprise he has worked with Marin seven times. He appeared in last two installments of the “Once Upon A Time In Mexico” trilogy, the “Spy Kids” trilogy, “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Machete.”
6. He has an honorary doctorate degree.
Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles gave Marin a Honorary Doctorate degree at its commencement ceremony back in May 2007. Cheech is a big fan of art so this made sense for him to be given such an honor.
7. Cheech is believed to own one of the biggest private collections of Chicano art.
Cheech Marin has one of the most exclusive private collection of Chicano art in the United States. Much of it formed the core of his exhibition “Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge,” which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 12-city tour during 2001-2007 to major art museums across the United States.
8. He is currently in the works of opening up an arts center in Riverside, California.
The museum, tentatively titled the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry is scheduled to open in 2020 in Riverside, east of Los Angeles. California gave the stoner comedian $9.7 million this year for funding to open the museum.
9. Marin auditioned to sing for Frank Zappa back in 1967.
Frank Zappa was one of the biggest rock groups during the late ’60s and Marin had a good shot of getting in the group but things didn’t pan out well. He moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in September of that year to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War. Marin would eventually release a solo album later in his career.
10. He is an avid golfer.
He initially disliked the sport until he co-starred in the film “Tin Cup,” which is based on golfing. He also enjoys horse archery, which he practices on a special course that he has built on his private home.
11. Marin has released two best-selling children’s music albums.
“My Name is Cheech, the School Bus Driver” (1992) and “My Name is Cheech, The School Bus Driver ‘Coast to Coast'” (1997) became best-selling albums. They were both eventually released bilingually. In 2007, “Cheech the School Bus Driver” was turned into a book.
12. He was in a fraternity in college.
Marin graduated from Bishop Alemany High School and then studied at California State University, Northridge. He became a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He has previously donated money to support the fraternity throughout the years.
13. Cheech didn’t actually smoke any marijuana in any of the “Cheech and Chong” films.
It may come as a surprise to some that Cheech and Chong never actually smoked any marijuana during any of their films. The only drug taken in the entire film series was Peyote.
14. He won the first Celebrity Jeopardy tournament back in 1992.
Cheech is pretty good when it comes to game shows as he has appeared twice on “Celebrity Jeopardy” even winning the inaugural contest back in 1992. In 2010, he was victorious again as he beat Anderson Cooper and actress Aisha Tyler on “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
15. Marin was delivering carpets when he met Tommy Chong.
Cheech was working as a delivery man for an upholstery company when he ran into Tommy Chong, a musician who was running an improv comedy troupe from a strip bar owned by his family. After a brief spell with the troupe, Marin and Chong began performing as a musical act, then as stand-up comedy duo.
16. He has been married three different times.
Marin was first married in 1975 and now is married to his third wife, Natasha who is a Russian pianist. They married in August 2009, and has three children from previous marriages.
17. He had a brief and somewhat successful singing career.
He got his start at 5 years old when his friend’s mother had a recording studio and he sang classic Mexican songs on a record. This got him interested in music and eventually started a rock band in high school where he threw backyard gigs. Before him and Chong became actors they were primarily a singing group which led them to later performing.
18. His dad was a police officer. Which meant he was constantly getting in trouble.
Marin grew up with Mexican American parents, Oscar Marin, a policeman in the Los Angeles Police Department, and his wife Elsa Marin, a secretary. He grew up in a traditional Mexican household where he was constantly getting in trouble throughout grade school.
19. He joined a long list of celebrities that have made a cameo on The Simpsons.
On March 13, 2011 Cheech made a surprise cameo on an episode of The Simpsons. In the episode, The Simpsons family attends a live Cheech and Chong show where Homer attempts to join the duo. The episode had various references to Cheech and Chong skits throughout their respective careers.
20. Cheech is an avid and true blue fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is no surprise here since he was born and grew up in Los Angeles, Marin is a huge fan of the LA Dodgers. He even threw out the first pitch at a game back in 2009 and has been seen at countless games throughout the years.