Marin, Cheech 1946–

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Marin, Cheech 1946–

(Richard Anthony Marin)

PERSONAL: Born Richard Anthony Marin, July 13, 1946, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Oscar and Elsa (Meza) Marin; married Rikki Mae Morley, November 1, 1975 (divorced); married Patti Heid (a painter), 1984; children: three. Education: California State University, Northridge, B.A.

ADDRESSES: HomeSan Francisco, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bulfinch Press, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

CAREER: Comedian, actor, and screenwriter, beginning c. 1969; formed improvisational theater group City Works, and comedy team Cheech and Chong with Tommy Chong, and performed in clubs and concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. Appeared in films, including Up in Smoke, 1978, Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, 1980, Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, 1981, Things Are Tough All Over, 1982, It Came from Hollywood, 1982, Still Smokin', 1983, Yellowbeard, 1983, Cheech and Chong's "The Corsican Brothers," 1984, After Hours, 1985, Echo Park, 1986, Born in East L.A., 1987, Fatal Beauty, 1987, Ghostbusters II, 1989, Rude Awakening, 1989; Troop Beverly Hills, 1989, Far Out Man, 1991, The Shrimp on the Barbie, 1990, Desperado, 1995, Tin Cup, 1996, The Great White Hype, 1996, From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996, Paulie, 1998, Picking Up The Pieces, 2000, Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, 2002, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, 2003, Once upon a Time in Mexico, 2003, and Christmas with the Kranks, 2004. Provided voice work for films, including Oliver & Company, 1988, Ferngulley: The Last Rainforest, 1993, The Lion King, 1994, It's Tough to Be a Bug, 1999, and The Lion King 1 1/2, 2004. Director of films, including Born in East L.A., 1987. Appeared on television series, including The Tracey Ullman Show, 1987, The Golden Palace, 1992, Nash Bridges, 1996, and Judging Amy, 2004–05; appeared in television specials, including Get Out of My Room, 1985, and Charlie Barnett—Terms of Enrollment, 1986; appeared in television films, including The Cisco Kid, 1994. Director of television specials, including Get Out of My Room, 1985. Producer of six episodes of a comedy series for Fox Television starring Latino comedy team Culture Clash, 1991; narrator for audio books, including The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grammy Award (with Tommy Chong) from National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Best Comedy Record, 1973, for Los Cochinos; ALMA Community Service Award, National Council of La Raza, 1999; Creative Achievement Award, Imagen Foundation, 2000.



(With Tommy Chong) Up in Smoke, Paramount, 1978.

(With Tommy Chong) Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, Universal, 1980.

(With Tommy Chong) Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, Columbia, 1981.

(With Tommy Chong) Things Are Tough All Over, Columbia, 1982.

(With Tommy Chong) Still Smokin', Paramount, 1983.

(With Tommy Chong) Cheech and Chong's "The Corsican Brothers," Orion, 1984.

(And director) Born in East L.A., Universal, 1987.


(With Tommy Chong) Cheech and Chong, Ode, 1972.

(With Tommy Chong) Los Cochinos, Warner Brothers, 1973.

(With Tommy Chong) Wedding Album, Warner Brothers, 1974.

(With Tommy Chong) Sleeping Beauty, Warner Brothers, 1976.

(With Tommy Chong) Up in Smoke, Warner Brothers, 1978.

(With Tommy Chong) Get Out of My Room, MCA, 1985.

My Name Is Cheech, the School Bus Driver (for children), Ode to Kids, 1992.


(Contributor) The Latino Holiday Book: From Cinco de Mayo to Dia de los Muertos—the Celebrations and Traditions of Hispanic-Americans, Publishers Group West (New York, NY), 2000.

Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Also recorded Big Bambu, Let's Make a New Dope Deal, and Greatest Hits, all with Tommy Chong; wrote and recorded the hit single, "Born in East L.A.," MCA, 1985.

SIDELIGHTS: Comedy writer and performer Cheech Marin is famous for his albums and films with early comedic partner Tommy Chong. Together Cheech and Chong became renowned for their drug-related humor, prompting an American Film critic reviewing their first motion picture, Up in Smoke, to hail them as "the Laurel and Hardy of dope." The duo saw their popularity rise during the 1970s, winning a 1973 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Record for Los Cochinos. They collaborated on the screenplays for several other films following Up in Smoke, including Things Are Tough All Over, Still Smokin', and Cheech and Chong's "The Corsican Brothers." After Cheech and Chong went their separate ways, Marin wrote, directed, and starred in the successful motion picture comedy Born in East L.A.; he has also performed in more mainstream television and film roles, and used his voice talent for several animated features, including Disney's The Lion King.

Marin began his association with Chong during the late 1960s. At first Marin and Chong formed a small theater group with others called "City Works"; then they decided to split off on their own as a comedy duo. Their recorded comedy albums, featuring jokes about smoking pot and using hallucinogens, eventually brought them a large enough following—particularly among teenagers and college students—to encourage them to take their act to the big screen. In 1978 Cheech and Chong released Up in Smoke. Critical opinion has varied on this project, and on all of the pair's movie efforts. Some deplored the advocation of drug use, others lambasted the low bathroom humor that Cheech and Chong mixed with their marijuana jokes. Others found the films uneven and lacking professional polish, but extremely funny. Fans and detractors alike called the plots minimal. In Up in Smoke, Marin picks up hitchhiker Chong after the latter is kicked out of the home of his well-to-do parents. The two decide to form a rock band, but persecution by the police lead them to travel to Tijuana. They must return, however, in time to enter their band in a contest; the only available transportation back from Mexico proves to be a fantastic vehicle composed solely of marijuana compressed into something called "fibreweed." Up in Smoke was made on a very small budget, yet managed to gross twenty-eight million dollars at the box office.

Marin and Chong's next screenwriting collaboration, released in 1980, bore the title Cheech and Chong's Next Movie. The plot concerns the pair's involvement with a stand-up comic and a rich spinster. The cast also included Marin's wife, Rikki, whom he married in 1975. She continued to play roles in the comedy team's subsequent motion pictures. The following year brought Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams to the screen—this vehicle featured the duo as ice cream vendors who also dole out drugs to their customers.

In 1982's Things Are Tough All Over, Marin and Chong each take dual roles—as themselves, and as a pair of rich Arabs who hire their other personas to drive a limousine secretly stuffed with cash. Things Are Tough All Over is something of a departure in that it contains only one instance of drug usage—Chong eating a peyote button. Still Smokin', which was released in 1983, however, re-established Cheech and Chong as commentators on the drug culture. This film includes a large quantity of concert footage, as well as a connecting plot concerning the Amsterdam Film Festival.

An even bigger departure from their usual subject matter came with 1984's Cheech and Chong's "The Corsican Brothers." Marin and Chong took the classic short story by Alexandre Dumas—about twin brothers during the French Revolution who each feel physical pain when the other is wounded—and played it strictly for laughs. The Corsican Brothers, however, proved to be the last screenwriting collaboration between Marin and Chong. The pair occasionally appeared together in the films of others, as in 1983's Yellowbeard, but creatively they went their separate ways. Of the characters he created with Chong, Marin explained to Susan King in the Los Angeles Times: "I didn't want to keep doing that and he did … We had grown out of those guys. At some point, it becomes pathetic and not funny."

Marin's first solo screenwriting effort grew out of a musical video parody he did of rock singer Bruce Springsteen's hit, "Born in the U.S.A." He got the original idea when he read of a case in which a fourteen-year-old Hispanic, born a U.S. citizen, was accidentally deported in an Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) round-up of illegal aliens. Marin then expanded his adapted spoof into the 1987 film Born in East L.A., which he also directed and starred in. Marin's character in the film, Rudy Robles, is a third-generation American citizen of Mexican descent. Summoned by his more recently immigrated cousin to give him a ride home from work, Robles leaves the house without his wallet. When the factory where his cousin works is raided by the INS, his cousin escapes, but Robles is sent to Tijuana. His somewhat naive cousin interprets his call for help as a message from Jesus Christ, while his more competent relatives are vacationing elsewhere in California.

Once in Tijuana, Robles must work in order to pay a smuggler of illegal aliens to take him back to the United States. He raises the money by playing in a mariachi band, giving tattoos, providing fake passports, and selling oranges. During this process, he meets many memorable characters who share his desire to enter the United States, including an El Salvadoran woman with whom he falls in love.

New York Times reviewer Caryn James did not especially like the film, but lauded "Marin's appealing performance as … a straight-arrow cousin of the laid-back, dope-smoking character he usually plays." She further declared that "Marin may be a greatly underrated actor."

Since Born in East L.A., Marin has been involved in an acting capacity in several projects devoted to furthering the opportunities and bettering the image of Hispanics in the arts. He performed in a public television presentation of the Spanish miracle play La Pastorella, and starred as Pancho in an updated, less stereotypical cable version of The Cisco Kid. Marin described Pancho in the New York Times as "a true revolutionary who represents Mexico trying to regain its independence. He's very volatile, very loyal, very stubborn." Marin has also done several projects for children in recent years, including a record album called My Name Is Cheech, the School Bus Driver. He has created voice roles in animated films for Disney, in addition to working with Chong again in the animated Ferngulley: The Last Rainforest. Marin has also acted in a number of popular movies, including the Spy Kids trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Christmas with the Kranks. Because of his work, Marin was the recipient of the 2000 Creative Achievement Award from the Imagen Foundation.

Beyond Marin's work in film, the actor and comedian is one of the largest collectors of Chicano art. This is the subject of his 2002 book, Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge. Chicano artwork is noted for its combination of traditional Mexican images and styles with American pop. The book features the work of more than thirty artists, including John Valadez, Gronk, Diane Gamboa, and Adan Hernandez. Marin writes the book's introduction, and art critic Max Benavidez provides essays on the works.

Critics lauded Marin's work in publishing Chicano Visions. Many found this art movement to be underrepresented in literature, and welcomed Marin's contribution. "Marin is … a pioneer in recognizing the vibrancy and significance of Chicano art," wrote Booklist contributor Donna Seaman. Others enjoyed Marin's specific selections and believed that the author highlighted each piece thoughtfully. "Short essays provide historical context, but Chicano Visions is primarily an art book, with gorgeous, full-page reproductions," noted Robert Ito in a review for Los Angeles Magazine.



Almanac of Famous People, 7th edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 45, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Newsmakers 2000, Issue 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.


Adweek Western Edition, July 15, 1990, Shelly Garcia, "Cheech Marin Turns on to Advertising," p. 6; September 24, 1990, Dan Cray, "Cheech Marin's New Stash," p. 4.

American Film, November, 1990, Frank Thompson, review of Up in Smoke, p. 56.

America's Intelligence Wire, August 27, 2003, "Interview with Katie Roiphe, Rick Marin;" February 13, 2005, "Cheech and Chong Played It Straight on the Movie Set"; August 1, 2005, "Chicano Art"; August 9, 2005, "American Voices"; August 12, 2005, "Chicano Art."

Back Stage, June 15, 1990, Robert Goldrich, "Comedian Cheech Marin to Direct Spots," p. 6.

Booklist, November 15, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, p. 560.

Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 1991, Alan Bunce, review of La Pastorela, p. 10.

Daily Variety, May 12, 2003, Scott Hettrick, "Goldberg, Marin Roar Back in 'Lion,'" p. 21; September 9, 2003, "Helmer Leads 'Mexico' Jam," p. 15; February 8, 2005, Deborah Netburn, "Back in Smoke," p. 1.

Entertainment Weekly, February 4, 1994, Bruce Fretts, "To Cheech his Own," p. 44; May 6, 1994, Glenn Kenny, review of Ring of the Musketeers, p. 70; July 29, 1994, Michael Sauter, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 64; August 25, 1995, Owen Gleiberman, review of Desperado, p. 90; August 16, 1996, Owen Gleiberman, review of Tin Cup, p. 44; September 27, 1996, Michale Sauter, review of Oliver and Company, p. 88; December 20, 1996, Ira Robbins, review of Tin Cup, p. 82; April 23, 1998, review of Paulie, p. 58; September 9, 2005, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Underclassman, p. 127.

Family Circle, September 20, 1994, Jeffrey Lyons, review of The Lion King, p. 148.

Film Journal International, September, 2003, "New Line," p. 32.

Glamour, September, 1989, David Denicolo, review of Rude Awakening, p. 210.

GQ, January, 1990, Patrice Serrani, "Splendor without Grass," p. 28.

Hispanic, September, 1996, Valerie Menard, "Cheech Enjoys Second Career in TV," p. 12; October, 2001, Cathy Areu Jones, "Cheech Marin's New Mission," p. 48.

Hollywood Reporter, November 11, 2002, Nellie Andreeva, "Marin Plays Pop on NBC's 'Ortegas,'" p. 3; July 23, 2003, Cynthia Littleton, "Cheech and Chong Take Another Hit," p. 1; September 10, 2003, "Marin Cops Role as Police Boss in 'Underclassman,'" p. 4; September 15, 2003, Ray Richmond, "Latin Kings of Comedy," p. 18.

In Style, January 15, 2004, John Griffiths, "It Takes a Village," p. 422.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, December 2, 1996, Steve Hall, "Cheech Marin's Career Is Hardly up in Smoke."

Los Angeles Magazine, August, 1996, Peter Rainer, review of Tin Cup, p. 145; November, 2002, Robert Ito, "Art Nuevo," p. 136; April, 2003, Abel Salas, "Comic Drive: On the Greens with George Lopez and Cheech Marin," p. 17.

Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1983, Linda Gross, "Cheech and Chong Still Smokin," p. 6; August 24, 1985, Chris Willman, "Cheech and Chong Enjoy Rebirth 'In East L.A.,'" p. 1; September 19, 1992, Susan King, interview with Marin, p. 1; December 1, 2002, review of Chicano Visions, p. 8.

National Review, September 16, 1996, John Simon, review of Tin Cup, p. 67.

Newsweek, June 29, 1981, David Ansen, review of Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, p. 71; September 4, 1989, David Ansen, review of Rude Awakening, p. 68.

New York, August 11, 1980, David Denby, review of Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, p. 40; February 7, 1994, John Leonard, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 60; June 20, 1994, David Denby, review of The Lion King, p. 79; August 26, 1996, David Denby, review of Tin Cup, p. 117.

New Yorker, August 12, 1996, Terrence Rafferty, review of Tin Cup, p. 78.

New York Times, August 9, 1982, Janet Maslin, review of Things Are Tough All Over, p. 14; May 7, 1983, Vincent Canby, review of Still Smokin', p. 12; September 13, 1985, Vincent Canby, review of After Hours, p. 20; August 24, 1987, Caryn James, review of Born in East L.A., p. 14; May 22, 1988, Patricia T. O'Conner, review of Born in East L.A., p. 30; August 16, 1989, Vincent Canby, review of Rude Awakening, p. 19; December 23, 1991, Jon Pareles, review of La Pastorela, p. 11; January 30, 1994, p. 32; February 5, 1994, John O'Connor, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 17; March 29, 1996, Caryn James, "Nash Bridges," p. 20.

People, September 22, 1980, Gail Buchalter, "Cheech and Chong's Joint Career Is a Smoke Screen," p. 85; July 20, 1981, review of Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, p. 15; July 11, 1983, Jack Friedman, "A Tale of Two Musketeers," p. 26; September 14, 1987, Tom Cunneff, review of Born in East L.A., p. 14; November 21, 1988, Peter Travers, review of Oliver and Company, p. 17; October 12, 1992, David Hiltbrand, review of The Golden Palace, p. 9; February 7, 1994, David Hiltbrand, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 16; August 5, 1996, Michael A. Lipton, review of Nash Bridges, p. 15; August 19, 1996, Leah Rozen, review of Tin Cup, p. 19; April 24, 1998, "Puff Daddy," p. 125; December 6, 2004, review of Christmas with the Kranks, p. 32.

Premiere, March, 1996, Maximillian Potter, "Idol Chatter," p. 46.

PR Newswire, July 21, 2004, "Twin Cities to Host Cheech Marin's Personal Chicano Art Collection."

Rolling Stone, July 14, 1994, Peter Travers, review of The Lion King, p. 98.

School Library Journal, March, 1990, Marilyn Higgins, "Birthwrite: Growing Up Hispanic," p. 171; February, 1998, Penny Peck, review of My Name Is Cheech, the School Bus Driver, p. 74.

Smithsonian, October, 2002, Frank B. Phillippi, "The Cheech Marin Collection," p. 45.

Sport, December, 1997, Randy Williams, "Smokin' Again," p. 92.

Time Canada, February 21, 2005, Barbara Kiviat, "Re-Upped in Smoke," p. 47.

TV Guide, February 5, 1994, Jeff Jarvis, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 39; February 12, 1994, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 28; May 17, 1997, Jeff Jarvis, review of Nash Bridges, p. 14.

UPI NewsTrack, October 1, 2004, "Cheech Marin Wants to Educate through Art"; February 14, 2005, "Cheech and Chong Plan New Movie."

Variety, June 3, 1981, review of Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, p. 14; May 11, 1983, review of Still Smokin', p. 20; May 23, 1984, review of Cheech and Chong's "The Corsican Brothers," p. 13; August 26, 1987, review of Born in East L.A., p. 15; November 16, 1988, review of Oliver and Company, p. 19; August 16, 1989, review of Rude Awakening, p. 23; April 13, 1992, Todd McCarthy, review of Ferngully, p. 64; September 21, 1992, Hoyt Hilsman, review of The Golden Palace, p. 88; January 31, 1994, Todd Everett, review of The Cisco Kid, p. 70; May 29, 1995, Todd McCarthy, review of Desperado, p. 53; March 25, 1996, John P. McCarthy, review of Nash Bridges, p. 30; August 5, 1996, Todd McCarthy, review of Tin Cup, p. 47; April 20, 1998, Todd McCarthy, review of Paulie, p. 43; February 21, 2005, "Inhaling Laughs," p. 45.

Wall Street Journal Western Edition, December 23, 1991, Robert Goldberg, review of La Pastorela, p. 7.

Washingtonian, July, 1981, Dan Rottenberg, review of Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, p. 46.


Chicano, (September 12, 2005), biography of Cheech Marin.

E Online, (July 24, 2003), fact sheet on Cheech Marin.

Internet Movie Database, (September 12, 2005), fact sheet and filmography of Cheech Marin.

MSN Entertainment, (July 24, 2003), biography of Cheech Marin.

Time Warner Books, (July 24, 2003), description of Chicano Visions.