Best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture, no-holds-barred duo of 'Cheech and Chong,' Cheech Marin is a paradox in the world of entertainment. As an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector and humanitarian, Cheech is a man who has enough talent, humor and intelligence to do just about anything. As a multi-generational star - or as Cheech jests, "People know me from the womb to the tomb," - he attracts fans through his comedy and films, as well as his projects for children. To this day, 'Cheech and Chong' films are the number one weekend video rentals.
These past few years are finding a whole new audience through Cheech's Chicano art collection, which is one of the largest in the world. Cheech's vision of Chicano art and expression are being brought to life in a blockbuster museum exhibition duo, collectively entitled Chicano. Cheech’s own personal Chicano art collection forms the core of Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, a traditional art exhibition, and is accompanied by Chicano Now: American Expressions, an interactive multimedia exhibition for families. In September of 2002, Bulfinch Press published a coffee table book featuring highlights of Cheech’s art collection and exhibition.
Currently Cheech is directing the Broadway production of Latinologues, a collection of comedic and poignant monologues revealing the Latino experience in America. Cheech will soon be heard as one of the voices in the Disney Pixar animation feature film "Cars". Recently, Cheech starred in the Miramax film Underclassman, with Nick Cannon and Roselyn Sanchez and played a role in the Revolution Studios’ comedy film titled Christmas with the Kranks, starring Tim Allen. Cheech also had recurring role on the CBS television series Judging Amy.
In the past, Cheech also co-starred in the Robert Rodriguez films Spy Kids 3 with Antonio Banderas, and in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, starring Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. Cheech co-starred in Tin Cup where he played caddy and best buddy to Kevin Costner. Cheech co-starred in the Dream Works Pictures modern-day fable Paulie with Tony Shalhoub. He also has starred opposite Samuel Jackson, Jeff Goldblum and Damon Wayans in The Great White Hype and opposite George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino for Robert Rodriguez in From Dusk till Dawn as well as Rodriguez’s Desperado alongside Antonio Banderas. In addition, Cheech co-starred with Don Johnson in the CBS drama television series Nash Bridges, currently in syndication.
Cheech was the recipient of the 2000 Creative Achievement Award from the Imagen Foundation. In addition, he received the 1999 National Council of La Raza/Kraft Foods ALMA Community Service Award for his work on behalf of the Latino community.
With his entry into the "kids set," Cheech's littlest fans only know him because of his work in children's music and animation. He became known to an international children's audience when he provided the voice of Banzai, one of the dastardly hyenas in The Lion King, as well as the streetwise Chihuahua in Disney's Oliver and Company. Cheech’s voice was heard as Lencho the Flea on the CBS show, Santo Bugito.
Due to his phenomenal success of his first bilingual children's album, My Name is Cheech, the School Bus Driver, he will release a second record, My Name is Cheech, The School Bus Driver "Coast to Coast." According to Cheech, "The music speaks directly to kids in an intelligent way-they're fun, but educational." In fact, the record impressed the Los Angeles Unified School District so much that they are using one of his songs to teach kids about how to mix and use colors. The second album will feature a bus trip from Los Angeles to Miami, and through a combination of Latin rhythms, the music will address such issues as getting along with others.
Cheech was born in South Central Los Angeles and raised in Granada Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles. He has always loved music. "As a little kid, I was a singer and recorded albums.
I was always in bands-you name it, I sang it - R&B, jazz, funk, I did it all," he says. After attending California State University, Northridge to study English, he left eight credits short of a degree to "pursue pottery and avoid the draft."
Moving to Vancouver, British Columbia as a political refugee, Cheech soon met Tommy Chong who owned a topless club. He worked there for nine months combining music and improvisational comedy. "It was great-you could call it modern day burlesque," he quips.
Eventually Cheech and Chong teamed up and moved back to Los Angeles. They performed their stand-up/music act at clubs throughout L.A. until they were discovered at The Troubador by music industry magnate Lou Adler. "The rest," as Cheech says, "is history."
Cheech and Chong were a critically acclaimed duo for 15 years, but have worked separately for the past 11 years. They teamed together for eight feature films: the first, Up in Smoke, was the highest grossing comedy of 1978, topping $100 million at the box office. That followed with Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie, Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams, Things are Tough All Over, Cheech and Chong: Still Smoking and Cheech and Chong: The Corsican Brothers. They also made guest appearances in Yellowbeard and Martin Scorsese's After Hours.
After splitting with Chong, Cheech wrote, directed and starred in Universal's hit comedy, Born in East L.A. Other film and television credits include, Cisco Kid, Rude Awakening, Fatal Beauty and Shrimp on the Barbie.
As for the future, Cheech hopes to continue acting, writing and directing. He also desires to become more involved in animation projects. "I love animation because it is such a pure form of acting, created just by the voice," he says. When he is not working, Cheech devotes a great deal of time to such organizations as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, El Rescate and the Inner City Arts Council.
Read Cheech Marin's statement on the Chicano School of Painting.
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