Tommy Chong Biography
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Thomas B. Kin Chong
Born Country: Canada
Born in: Edmonton
Famous as: Comedian, Actor
father: Stanley Chong
mother: Lorna Jeanq
children: Gilbran Chong, Marcus Chong, Paris Chong, Precious Chong, Rae Dawn Chong, Robbi Chong
City: Edmonton, Canada
One of America’s favorite comedians, Tommy Chong is regarded as one of the ‘best’ in the country and is recognized for his partnership with Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin. The duo, popularly known as ‘Cheech & Chong’ became extremely popular for their ‘drug’ comicality, satires and riotously impertinent comedy routines. Some of his best-known work includes 9 comedy albums with his partner, 8 hit films and stunning box-office records. He also frequently performs stand-up comedy with his wife, Shelby Chong, usually acting out to sold-out crowds. Apart from entertaining people with his stand-up comedy, he is also an actor and has appeared in several television shows and films. Some of his most memorable roles on television after his ‘devastating’ split with his partner, ‘Cheech’, include him portraying the character of ‘Leo’ on ‘That ‘70s Show’ and playing a hippie in the hit show, ‘Dharma and Greg’. Life was not all a bed of roses for Chong. He started out at a strip-club in the delicate center of Vancouver’s Chinatown, he also signed with Motown as a recording artist, after which he started his own comedy group.
- Thomas B. Kin Chong was born on May 24, 1938 to Stanley Chong, a Chinese truck motorist and Lorna Jean, a waitress of Scots-Irish and French ancestry.
- While he was still a young boy, the family shifted to Calgary, Alberta to a traditional neighborhood.
- While he studied at Crescent Heights High School, he played the guitar to earn a few dollars a week. He later dropped out of the school because he never showed any interest in academics.
- In the early 1960s, he was the guitarist for a group called ‘The Shades’. The group then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia and changed its name to ‘Little Daddy & the Bachelors’ before assuming the name, ‘Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers’.
- In 1965, the group signed a record deal with Gordy Records and recorded their first album. Their debut single, ‘Does Your Mama Know About Me’ peaked at the no. 29 position on the Billboard Hot 100.
- The group got divided and Tommy Chong was fired by Motown producer, Johnny Bristol. After being fired, he decided to form his own improv, stand-up troupe. He got together with Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin and formed the famous comedy duo, ‘Cheech & Chong’, debuting in 1971.
- The duo went on to entertain audiences with their indomitable stage presence and their superb comic timing. Chong released his first self-titled comedy album, ‘Cheech & Chong’, along with Cheech. The album became one of the greatest hits. The next year, they released their second album ‘Big Bambu’.
- From 1973 to 1976, the hilarious duo went on to release more comedy albums such as ‘Los Cochinos’, ‘Cheech & Chong’s Wedding Album’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
- In 1978, he appeared in his first comedy feature-film titled ‘Up in Smoke’ along with Cheech. The film also featured Edie Adams, Ton Skerritt and Stacy Keach. The next year, he released an album with a soundtrack titled ‘Up in Smoke’ with his partner.
- In 1980, he released the album ‘Let’s Make a New Dope Deal’ and also appeared in the movie, ‘Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie’, which was his second feature film.
- From 1981 to 1985, he was seen in the movies, ‘Nice Dreams’, ‘It Came from Hollywood’, ‘Things Are Tough All Over’, ‘Still Smokin’, ‘Yellowbeard’, ‘Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers’ and ‘Get Out of My Room’.
- 1985 proved to be an extremely depressing year for Chong. Even though he appeared in a movie along with his best-friend Cheech and the duo even recorded the album ‘Get Out of My Room’; this ended up being the last release by the longtime comedy duo, with Cheech parting the following year.
- Following his split with Cheech, he was seen in the television series, ‘Miami Vice’ as ‘T.R. ‘Jumbo’ Collins’, in 1986. Three years later, he appeared in the movie, ‘Far Out Man’.
- From 1990 to 1995, he was seen in the movies, ‘Tripwire’, ‘The Spirit of ‘76’, ‘Life After Sex’ and ‘National Lampoon’s Senior Trip’.
- In 1997, he played the role of ‘Van Elsinger’ in the television series, ‘Sliders’. However, he got his big break on television as ‘Leo Chingkwake’ in the hit American series, ‘That ‘70s Show’, where he played a recurring character for a number of seasons.
- In 2000, he lent his voice for ‘Chief Running Pinto’ for the popular American series, ‘South Park’. The next year, he starred in the film ‘The Wash’.
- From 2003 to 2007, he appeared in a number of films including, ‘Best Buds’, ‘Evil Bong’ and ‘American Drug War: The Last White Hope’. During this time, he also appeared in the television series, ‘George Lopez’.
- From 2008 to 2011, he was seen in a number of popular television shows, such as ‘Code Monkeys’, ‘MADtv’, ‘WWE Raw’, ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Franklin and Bash’. It was during this time, he also reunited with his former comedian-friend, Cheech Marin, for a South Park episode and the two began touring.
- He got together with Cheech for a comedy, animated movie titled ‘Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie’, which released in 2013. The movie features some of their best comedy moments and bits in animated segments.
- ‘Cheech and Chong’, the self-titled album released in 1971, is considered one of Chong’s greatest achievements. The album became extremely popular considering it was the first album by the comic duo. It featured at the #28 position on the Billboard 200 and was also nominated for ‘Best Comedy Recording’ for the Grammy Awards.
- The duo’s second album, ‘Big Bambu’, released in 1972, once again became extremely popular with the masses. It received positive reviews from the ‘Rolling Stone’ and was deemed as one of the most ‘cleverly done’ albums. This album was also nominated for ‘Best Comedy Recording’ at the 15th Grammy Awards.
- He was honored with the High Times ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, in 2013.
- He married Maxine Sneed in 1960 and had two daughters with her; Robbi and Rae Dawn. The couple split in 1970.
- He married Shelby Fiddis in 1975 and the couple has three children’ Paris, Gilbran and Precious. Apart from his biological children, he also adopted Marcus Chong, who is a prominent actor today.
- He is a marijuana advocate and is a sponsor of the usage of marijuana.
- He was found guilty of selling drug kits, mostly bongs, through the promotion of ‘Nice Dreams Enterprises’, a company that was run by his son, Paris. His wife, Shelby and his son, Paris were also indicted, but Chong agreed to plead guilty if the government did not accuse his wife and son.
- He served a one year sentence at the Taft Correctional Institution from 2003 to 2004 and paid a fine of $120,000.
- In 2006, he wrote a book about his time in jail titled ‘The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint’.
- He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. He is currently undergoing treatment and tweeted that he is ‘99% cancer free’.
- This famous Canadian-American stand-up comedian and actor from the ‘Cheech & Chong’ fame, was originally considered to play the role of ‘Shenzi’ in ‘The Lion King’. However, the part ultimately went to Whoopi Goldberg.
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