Thomas B. Kin Chong is a Canadian-American comedian, actor, writer, musician and cannabis rights activist who is known for his marijuana-themed Cheech & Chong comedy albums and movies with Cheech Marin, as well as playing the character Leo on Fox’s That ’70s Show. He became a naturalized United States citizen in the late 1980s. Early life Chong was born at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, on May 24, 1938, His mother was Lorna Jean, a waitress of Scots-Irish ancestry, and his father was Stanley Chong, As a youth, Tommy Chong moved with his family to Calgary, settling in a conservative neighborhood Chong has referred to as “Dog Patch”. He has said that his father had “been wounded in World War II, and there was a veterans’ hospital in Calgary. He bought a $500 house in Dog Patch and raised his family on $50 a week.” before taking on the moniker Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers. After the band released two additional singles, Chong and Wes Henderson were fired by Chris Clark and Motown producer Johnny Bristol for missing an appointment to apply for Green cards to enable them to live in the US. The group broke up shortly afterward when Chong tried to reduce the number of players covered by the Vancouver’s’ contract. He intended that he, Taylor, and Henderson would constitute the group, while other members would be classified as sidemen and session artists. Cheech & Chong co-wrote and performed on many Cheech & Chong comedy albums, four of which were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. He and Cheech Marin shared the 1973 award in this category for Los Cochinos.
He also directed four of the duo’s films, while co-writing and starring in all seven with Cheech. After Cheech & Chong Cheech & Chong, while a very successful comedy act, split in 1985 due to creative differences and Marin’s desire to focus on a mainstream acting career. This began a difficult time for Chong. He did not act regularly until filling the recurring role as the fun-loving, aging hippie “Leo” on That ’70s Show. Chong was absent during the fifth and sixth seasons of the show as he was serving a brief jail sentence; upon his release, he returned to the series for its final two seasons. He also played a role as a hippie in Dharma and Greg. Chong was originally going to voice the character of Shenzi, the hyena in the Disney film The Lion King. Cheech Marin voiced Banzai. Chong did provide the voice of the character Yax in the 2016 Disney film Zootopia.
In September 2005, a/k/a Tommy Chong premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The documentary, produced, written and directed by Josh Gilbert, chronicles Chong’s comedic and personal history. It includes material related to his prosecution by the US Justice Department and imprisonment. The project features interviews with Cheech Marin, Bill Maher, George Thorogood, Peter Coyote, Lou Adler, Eric Schlosser, and Jay Leno. In 2011, Chong appeared as a Judge in an episode of Franklin & Bash. On September 4, 2014, Chong was announced as one of the celebrities participating in the 19th season of Dancing with the Stars. He paired with professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd. Despite being at the bottom of the leaderboard numerous times, Chong and Murgatroyd were able to make it to the night of the semi-finals but were eliminated at the end of that night. Chong is the oldest contestant to have made it to the semi-finals of the show. On April 4, 2015, Chong was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the annual “Hash Bash” event which focuses on cannabis legalization. He was a guest speaker at this event, took pictures with fans and signed autographs.