celebrity profile Tommy Chong is a pillar of pop culture: comedian, musician, occasional dancer, and activist. Learn more about the lifelong cannabis enthusiast here.
Who is Tommy Chong?
Name: Tommy Chong
Born: 24 May 1938 (as Thomas B. Kin Chong) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Things you need to know about Tommy Chong
Tommy Chong is a celebrated comedian, musician and cannabis advocate.
Chong was the son of a Scots-Irish waitress and a Chinese truck driver. His parents moved to a conservative area of Calgary in his childhood; possibly as a result, he became interested in playing rock and roll music. Chong and his bandmates from one of his bands, “Little Daddy & The Bachelors”, opened a Vancouver night club in the early 1960s. It was during this tenure that Chong met Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin, a Mexican-American from California dodging the Vietnam War draft. When the final incarnation of the band broke up, Cheech and Chong began to record comedy skits, often with a strong cannabis culture flavour.
Beginning with their 1971 eponymous debut, Cheech and Chong became a successful and beloved part of cannabis culture, a position reinforced by their first film Cheech And Chong’s Up In Smoke (1978). Several albums and less-well received films and albums followed, and the troupe broke up in 1985 when Marin decided to focus on his acting career.
Chong did not fare well in the aftermath. Aside from a continuing acting role on That ’70s Show (1998-2006), he saw little work.
In 2003, Chong’s online businesses Nice Dreams Pipes and Chong Glass – bong and hash pipe manufacturers – were targeted in a controversial drug-related prosecution: the US government had decided to use the cannabis paraphernalia industry as a means to continue the ‘War On (some) Drugs’. Chong was sentenced to 9 months of prison, serving his tariff at the Taft Correctional Institution from October 8, 2003 to July 7, 2004.
Cheech and Chong reunited in 2008, playing several tours.
Chong married three times: of his six children, the best known is actress Rae Dawn Chong.
Notable works and achievements
Chong has been a long time spokesman for cannabis legalisation, serving on the board of NORML. He was diagnosed with prostate and anal cancer, both of which he claims to have successfully treated with cannabis, especially hemp oil.
Chong competed in an extremely popular reality TV show, Dancing with the Stars. His presence and dancing talents were widely appreciated by all audiences. He made many references to the plant in the decor and in his choice of songs, putting the cannabis plant in focus in what usually is somewhat of a tame, non-political TV show.
The DEA spent $12 million on “Operation Pipe Dreams”, which helped in arresting Tommy Chong. This really only resulted in him serving a nine-month sentence, and missing the shooting of one season of That ‘70s show.
A few words from Tommy Chong
“If more people were stoned there would be less violence in the world.”