Best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture, no-holds-barred duo of Cheech and Chong, Cheech Marin is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector and humanitarian.
Currently Marin can be seen in the animated feature film “Cars,” in which he provides the voice of “Ramone.” He also is busy promoting his vision of Chicano art and expression as brought to life in an unprecedented exhibition, “Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge.” The exhibition features Marin’s personal Chicano art collection, one of the largest in the world.
In the past few years, Marin’s film roles have included “Underclassman,” “Christmas With the Kranks,” “Spy Kids 3-D” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” He had a recurring role on the series “Judging Amy” and directed the Broadway production of “Latinologues,” a collection of comedic and poignant monologues revealing the Latino experience in America.
Marin probably owes the resurgence in his career to his scene-stealing role in the movie “Tin Cup,” where he played Kevin Costner’s caddy, “Romeo Posar.” Shortly afterwards, longtime friend and “Tin Cup” co-star Don Johnson asked Marin to play his sidekick in the crime series “Nash Bridges.”
Marin has also become a favorite with children the world over through his many roles in animated movies and music projects. He provided the voices of “Banzai,” one of the dastardly hyenas in “The Lion King,” and the streetwise “Chihuahua” in “Oliver and Company.” Marin also has maintained his popularity with the “kids’ set” via his role in the “Spy Kids” trilogy and 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.”
Marin was born in South Central L.A. and raised in Granada Hills, a suburb of the San Fernando Valley. He has always loved music. After attending Cal State 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, Marin soon met Tommy Chong, who owned a topless club. He worked there for nine months, combining music and improvisational comedy. Eventually Marin and Chong teamed up and moved back to Los Angeles. They performed their stand-up/music act at clubs all over L.A. until they were discovered at The Troubador by music industry magnate Lou Adler.
Marin and Chong were a critically acclaimed duo for 15 years and starred in eight feature films together. The first, “Up in Smoke,” was the highest-grossing comedy of 1978, topping $100 million at the box office. Then came “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.” The twosome 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.
After splitting with Chong, Marin wrote, directed and starred in the hit comedy “Born In East LA.” Other film and television credits include “Cisco Kid,” “Rude Awakening,” “Fatal Beauty,” “Shrimp on the Barbie” and “Dusk Until Dawn.”
Marin devotes a great deal of time to such organizations as El Rescate and the Inner City Arts Council. He received the 2000 Creative Achievement Award from the Imagen Foundation, as well as the 1999 National Council of La Raza/Kraft Foods ALMA Community Service Award for his work on behalf of the Latino community.