Tommy Chong Biography

(Known for His Role in TV Series ‘That '70s Show’ and Part of the Comedy Duo 'Cheech & Chong')

Birthday: May 24, 1938 (Gemini)

Born In: Edmonton, Canada

Tommy Chong is a Canadian-American actor, director, writer, musician, comedian, and cannabis rights activist. He is widely recognized for his partnership with fellow comedian and actor Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin. The duo, popularly known as ‘Cheech & Chong,’ became extremely popular for their satires and comedy routines. Chong’s best-known work includes 11 comedy albums with Cheech and several hit films. He also performs stand-up comedy with his wife Shelby Chong. Apart from being a popular stand-up comedian, Tommy Chong is also known for his work as an actor; he has appeared in several television shows and films. Some of his most famous television roles, which came after his split with Cheech, include his portrayal of ‘Leo’ in ‘That ‘70s Show’ and ‘Carl’ in ‘Dharma & Greg.’ Chong’s journey in the field of entertainment has been quite inspirational and interesting. He started his career at a strip club in Vancouver’s Chinatown before signing with ‘Motown’ as a recording artist. He then went on to establish himself in the American entertainment industry as a popular comedian and actor.

Quick Facts

Canadian Celebrities Born In May

Also Known As: Thomas B. Kin Chong

Age: 86 Years, 86 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Shelby Chong (m. 1975), Maxine Sneed (m. 1960–1970)

father: Stanley Chong

mother: Lorna Jeanq

children: Gilbran Chong, Marcus Chong, Paris Chong, Precious Chong, Rae Dawn Chong, Robbi Chong

Born Country: Canada

Actors Comedians

Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males

Ancestry: Canadian American, Chinese Canadian, Chinese Australian, French Canadian

Notable Alumni: Victoria School Of Performing And Visual Arts

City: Edmonton, Canada

More Facts

education: Victoria School Of Performing And Visual Arts

Childhood & Early Life

Tommy Chong was born Thomas B. Kin Chong on May 24, 1938, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to Stanley Chong, a Chinese truck motorist, and Lorna Jean, a waitress of Scots-Irish and French ancestry.

When he was still young, his family shifted to Calgary, Alberta.

While studying at ‘Crescent Heights High School,’ he used to play the guitar to earn a few dollars a week. He later dropped out of the school as he was never interested in pursuing 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.’ It was then renamed ‘Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers.’

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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 29th 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 joined hands with Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin and formed the famous comedy duo ‘Cheech & Chong,’ which debuted in 1971.

The duo went on to entertain audiences with their indomitable stage presence and superb comic timing. They released their first self-titled comedy album ‘Cheech & Chong.’ 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, Tom Skerritt, and Stacy Keach. The next year, he released an album with a soundtrack titled ‘Up in Smoke’ with his partner Cheech.

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 movies like ‘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. He appeared in a movie along with his best friend Cheech and recorded the album ‘Get Out of My Room.’ Unfortunately, this album turned out to be the last release of the comedy duo as Cheech decided to pursue a solo career following the release of the album.

Following his split with Cheech, Chong was seen in the television series ‘Miami Vice’ where he played ‘T.R. "Jumbo" Collins’ in 1986. Four years later, he appeared in the movie ‘Far Out Man.’

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From 1989 to 1995, he was seen in movies like ‘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.’ He landed his breakthrough television role in the hit American series ‘That ‘70s Show’ where he played the recurring character of ‘Leo Chingkwake’ for a number of seasons.

In 2000, he voiced ‘Chief Running Pinto’ in 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, such as ‘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 several popular television shows, such as ‘Code Monkeys,’ ‘MADtv,’ ‘WWE Raw,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ and ‘Franklin and Bash.’ It was during this time that he reunited with Cheech Marin for a ‘South Park’ episode, and the two began touring together.

He joined hands with Cheech for a comedy, animated movie titled ‘Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie,’ which was released in 2013. The movie features some of their best comedy moments.

Soon after, the duo released several shorts, featuring their gigs. He then voiced ‘Yax’ in the movie ‘Zootopia.’ He also appeared in movies, such as ‘It’s Gawd!,’ ‘The Peach Panther,’ ‘Color out of Space,’ and ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.’

Chong made several guest appearances in various comedy shows between 2013 and 2019. These include ‘Satisfaction,’ ‘Uncle Grandpa,’ ‘Disjointed,’ ‘The Masked Singer,’ and ‘A Year in Music.’ In 2023, he joined the cast of the American teen sitcom ‘That '90s Show’ as ‘Leo Chingkwake.’

Major Works

‘Cheech and Chong,’ the self-titled album released in 1971, is considered one of Chong’s greatest achievements. The album became extremely popular, which was unexpected, as it was the first album by the comic duo. It peaked at the 28th position on the ‘Billboard 200’ and was nominated for ‘Best Comedy Recording’ at the ‘Grammy Awards.’

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The duo’s second album ‘Big Bambu’ was released in 1972. Like its predecessor, the album became extremely popular. It received positive reviews from ‘Rolling Stone’ and was deemed one of the most ‘cleverly done’ albums. This album was also nominated for ‘Best Comedy Recording’ at the 15th ‘Grammy Awards.’

Awards & Achievements

He was honored with the ‘High Times Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2013.

Personal Life & Legacy

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 grew up to become a prominent actor.

He is a marijuana advocate and cannabis rights activist.

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 son Paris were also indicted, but Chong agreed to plead guilty if the court lets go of his wife and son.

He served a one-year sentence at ‘Taft Correctional Institution’ from 2003 to 2004 and paid a fine of $120,000.

In 2006, he wrote a book titled ‘The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint’ about his time in jail.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. He underwent treatment and announced on social media that he was “99% cancer-free.” But fate had other plans as he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in June 2016. Nevertheless, in 2019, he again declared himself “cancer-free.”


This famous Canadian-American stand-up comedian and actor was considered to play the role of ‘Shenzi’ in ‘The Lion King.’ However, the part eventually went to Whoopi Goldberg.


Grammy Awards
1974 Best Comedy Recording Winner

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