Long before the 21st-century’s green rush, Tommy Chong and his co-creator, Cheech Marin, were famous for marijuana-themed comedy movies and albums. Thomas B. Kin Chong – a.k.a. Tommy Chong is a Canadian writer, actor, musician, producer, director, screenwriter, activist, and Grammy-awarded comedian. His career stretches decades and covers music, movies, comedy, television, and radio work.
Tommy Chong Net Worth
Chong's net worth is estimated to reach $8 million – much of it generated from his professional career as a cannabis culture connoisseur, professional stoner, entrepreneur, and the co-star and writer of various hit movies, comedy albums, and television series.
Tommy Chong net worth has been amassed through various professional acting, entertainment, and business ventures that continue to generate royalties for Chong.
- The popular Cheech & Chong comedy albums and movies during the 1970s generated a significant portion of Chong’s current net wealth. The initial box office receipts for the first three Cheech & Chong movies were as follows -
- Up in Smoke – released in 1978, with box office receipts on its initial release of $44 million.
- Cheech & Chong's Next Movie - released in 1980, with box office receipts on its initial release of $42 million.
- Nice Dreams – released in 1981, with box office receipts on its initial release of $38 million.
Note – Cheech & Chong’s franchise continues to generate royalties and revenue through merchandise sales, video sales, licensing deals, and other sales channels.
- Notable and recurring television roles in That 70’s Show (playing Leo) and Half Baked (playing Hue) continue to generate royalties as they are played in reruns all over the world.
- Business ventures that included Chong Glass – a manufacturer of high-end glass pipes. He also launched Chong’s Choice – a line of cannabis accessories/products.
Early Years & Personal Life
Chong was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on May 24, 1938. Although Canadian by birth, Chong’s mom was of Irish and Scottish ancestry, while his dad was born in China.
Tommy Chong was first married in 1960 to Maxine Sneed – a fellow Canadian. Chang and his wife raised two daughters, one of whom was the daughter of his previous wife. In 1975, Chong married his 2nd wife, Shelby, in Los Angeles, California. They had three children and an adopted son.
Tommy Chong’s Music Career
Chong first entered show business playing guitar for the Shades – a soul musical group based out of Calgary, Canada. When they repurposed their name to Taylor and the Vancouvers, Gordy Records signed the group. Because Gordy Records was a subsidiary of Motown (i.e., Berry Gordy), the band toured and followed Jackson 5’s opening act.
The Cheech & Chong Years
Cheech & Chong was a wildly successful comedy act beginning in the 1970s and lasting two decades. Their act included studio recordings, stand-up comedy, and counter-culture movies that spoke of the free-love era of the 1960s as hippies and stoners. Among Cheech & Chong’s most beloved and well-known comedy routines/songs included –
- Basketball Jones
- Sister Mary Elephant
- Earache My Eye
- Santa Claus & and His Old Lady
Both co-wrote many of Cheech & Chong’s comedy albums – several of which received Grammy Award nominations.
Cheech and Chong shared the 1973 Grammy for their third album Los Chochinos – which included Dave’s Not Here. This album was a commercial and critical success – peaking on the charts at #2. Los Chochinos was then Certified Gold by the RIAA as its sales exceeded ½ million units in the United States alone.
Post Cheech & Chong Years
Cheech & Chong was a hugely successful professional comedy act, although eventually, creative differences led to a split in 1985 that was a bit contentious. This shift in his career was a challenging time for Tommy Chong. Eventually, he reentered show business and began acting on TV and in other venues.
He had a recurring role on That 70s Show – the aging but fun-loving hippie – Leo. As an aging hippie himself, Chong was a natural and reprised a similar role on the television comedy Dharma and Greg.
In 2005 Chong premiered a/k/a Tommy Chong at the International Film Festival in Toronto. This documentary chronicles Tommy Chong’s professional and personal successes and struggles.
In 2012, Tommy Chong was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He notes that he improved his diet, health, and exercise routine and has since been 99% cancer-free.
In 2014, Chong joined the 19th season of the wildly popular and long-running reality show – Dancing With the Stars. Although he struggled at first, Chong made it to the semi-finals that year before being voted off the show. To date, Chong remains the oldest contestant to have made an appearance in the show’s semi-finals.
Reuniting With Cheech Marin
In 2008, Cheech & Chong decided to reunite and begin touring. This was when they introduced The Light Up America and Canada & The Felimony Tour, referencing the significant life experiences of each. The two also completed a publicity tour which included appearances on several SIRIUS/XM Satellite Radio shows.
The same year, Brad Garrett hosted a televised Cheech & Chong roast that was filmed during the Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, NV.
And in 2014, Cheech & Chong reunited for the release of their animated movie and appeared on Tom Green Live’s show. They also appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2018 after news broke that John Boehner was a board member of a cannabis company. In Cheech & Chong style, they lamented that it was unfortunate that it was no longer rebellious to be a stoner and would revise their act to include other illegal things like distributing NFL films without their consent or burning leaves without a permit.
Legal Controversy & Trivia
As part of the U.S. Federal Government’s Operation Pipe Dream, Chong was accused of financing a company that sold cannabis paraphernalia – the very same one that is now operating legally in the 21st century. As a result, he spent time in federal prison and paid a series of fines.
Little Known Trivia – While in prison, his cube-mate Jordan Belfort was serving time for his actions as a career stockbroker. After hearing wild tales by Belfort, Chong encouraged him to write a book about his experiences. In the end, Jordan Belfort would write what became the 2013 movie – The Wolf of Wall Street.
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Written by Allen Lee
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