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Cheech Marin: 7 things you didn't know about the comic actor (his dad worked for the LAPD!)

Look! Cheech has got a new book.
Courtesy of Cheech Marin
Look! Cheech published a book on Chicano art. Visit KPCC Tuesday for a live interview and pledge party!

We were first introduced to Cheech Marin as part of the pot-smoking duo who satirized the hippie counterculture in "Cheech & Chong." But the actor, director, comedian, author and Chicano art collector has come a long way since then — starring in Robert Rodriguez films, "Nash Bridges" and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua."

What you probably don't know about Cheech is that he's a Los Angeles native, and his dad was an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. How did Oscar Marin like his son smoking blunts on the big screen? KPCC takes a closer look at the life of  Cheech Marin. 

(And be sure to catchCheech live in person Tuesday evening in KPCC's Crawford Family Forum, where he talks with KPCC editor Oscar Garza about his newest book, "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection {size doesn’t matter}." It's part of KPCC's fall Pledge Drive.).

Here are seven things you may not know about the actor and comedian: 

1. He was nicknamed after fried pork: Born Richard Anthony Marin, he was nicknamed Cheech as a baby because his uncle said he looked like a little chicharrón (fried pork rind). Obviously, the name stuck. 

2. He's a seasoned writer: Cheech wrote for the rock-and-roll pub Poppin Magazine — a very rare Canadian underground rock magazine that had a nine-issue run. He's also penned a handful of children's books. 

(Photo: Del Mar Pictures/Flickr)

3. He was Jeopardy's first celebrity champion: Not only did he win, but he also beatAnderson Cooper. TAKE THAT!

Watch Cooper blame the buzzer: 

4. His dad was a police officer with the LAPD: “He liked 'Up in Smoke' because it made him real popular in the juvenile delinquent set," Cheech told Robin Milling in a radio interview. "He was a juvenile officer, so he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, my son’s Cheech. Come over here and talk to me. Tell me all your stuff.’” 

5. He has an honorary doctorate degree: Each year, Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles selects one or two individuals to receive the Honorary Doctorate degree at its commencement ceremony in May. Cheech made the cut in 2007. 

6. He collects Chicano art: This week, Cheech will be showing his love of Chicano art at KPCC's live pledge party. News editor Oscar Garza will interview him about his new book "Chicanitas" — and you're invited! Use the promo code "PartyOn" for $15 tickets; RSVP here. (this includes food and booze!) See a list of his favorite art galleries here

7. Religion was a big part of his early life: It's true! Cheech won the "Religion Award" in eighth grade. "I was going to be a priest and was accepted to the junior seminary," Marin told Christian Cinema. "But then I discovered girls."

Are you a fan of Cheech Marin? Share your favorite bits from this comedy albums or films in the comments or on KPCC's Facebook page.