October 2020: Vol 46, No 10

It is safe to say that when it comes to Hollywood, the stars of movies and television come from widely diverse backgrounds. Their ethnicity and personalities vary like the Southern California landscape.

Take Cheech Marin, for instance. His emergence into fame derived from South Los Angeles, not Beverly Hills. His mom was a secretary, his dad an LAPD cop. At birth in July 1946, he had his cleft lip surgically repaired. And despite his Mexican American heritage and the fact that he calls himself a Chicano, he is not fluent in Spanish.
However, the story of his name identifies Richard Anthony (Cheech) Marin in a most unique way. “Cheech” is short for “chicharron,” the Spanish word for fried pork rind, a popular snack and ingredient in Latin American cuisine. “I came home from the hospital, I was like a couple of days old or something, my uncle Cheech Marin came over and he looked in the crib and he said [in Spanish],‘Ay, parece un chicharrón.’ Looks like a little chicharrón, you know?’”

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