A paradox in the world of entertainment, Cheech Marin is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector, humanitarian, and a multi-generational talent. As Cheech himself jests, “people know me from the womb to the tomb.” Widely acknowledged as a cultural icon, he is perhaps best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counterculture comedy duo Cheech & Chong, which found commercial and cultural success with their stand up routines, studio recordings, and feature films. He has also voiced characters in several Disney films, including Oliver & Company, The Lion King, the Cars series, and Coco.
In addition to a successful life in entertainment, Cheech Marin is recognized today as a preeminent advocate for Chicano art. In the mid-1980’s, he began developing what is now arguably the finest private collection of Chicano art. In addition to artwork loans to numerous institutions, this notable collection has been featured in over a dozen exhibitions organized and shown at more than 50 museums in the U.S. Comprising mostly paintings, followed by drawings, prints, mixed-media artworks, sculptures, and photography, the collection now serves as the core of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of Riverside Art Museum, which opened in June 2022. A long-term goal of “The Cheech” is to supplement and expand the collection with Chicano artists, media, and subject matter not currently included through acquisitions and donations from artists and their estates, art collectors, dealers, and institutions.
Cheech was born Richard Marin in South Central Los Angeles and was an Angeleno until a move to Canada, where he serendipitously met Tommy Chong. He moved back to Los Angeles with Chong and their comedy duo proved entertainment gold. Six of their albums went gold, four were nominated for Grammys, and their 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. Their first — Up In Smoke — was the highest grossing comedy of 1978, topping $100 million at the box office.
Presented with support from the University of Michigan Department of American Culture — Latina/o Studies Program. Series presenting partners: Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. Media partner: Michigan Radio.
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