BY ED MURRIETA

At the end of “Up in Smoke,” Cheech and Chong, in their most famous roles, drive off in the California sunset, destination unknown but stoned.

“Up in Smoke” was released 40 years ago, on Sept. 15, 1978.

Here’s where the cast of cinema’s cannabis comedy classic is today:

Cheech Marin
Actor: The son of a Los Angeles cop who moved to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War draft, he’d been performing improv and making comedy albums with Tommy Chong since the early 1970s.  Cheech and Chong won a Grammy for 1973’s “Los Cochinos.”

Character: Pedro De Pacas, over-sexed East L.A. homey — he sings, “My cheechona,” a booby nod to The Knack’s “My Sharona,” before picking up Tommy Chong’s character hitch-hiking after seeing his hitched-up shirt stuffed to resemble big breasts.

After Up In Smoke: He made six additional, if unmemorable, movies with Tommy Chong and then hit his acting stride in both mainstream and art-house movies. He’s done steady voice-over and television work, including co-starring in 1990s prime-time CBS TV cop show “Nash Bridges.” He’s 72 years old and continues to tour and perform improv comedy with Tommy Chong. He has his own cannabis brand, Cheech’s Private Stash.


Tommy Chong
Actor: A Canadian musician signed to a Motown label in the mid-1960s, he turned to improv comedy when he met Cheech Marin in Vancouver, B.C.  Cheech and Chong won a Grammy for 1973’s “Los Cochinos” comedy album.

Character: Anthony Stoner, the bearded, bandana-wearing slacker son of wealthy Angelenos who says, “Man” a lot.

After Up In Smoke: He directed and co-wrote four the next six movies he co-started in with Cheech and appered as himself or a version of himself in a number of Hollywood movies. His most memorable TV role was hippie Leo on “That ’70s Show.” He’s both a cancer survivor and a prisoner who survived America’s war on drugs. He’s 80 years old and continues to tour and perform improv comedy with Cheech Marin. He’s active on Instagram and Twitter. Among many cannabis marketing activities, has his own cannabis, “Chong’s Choice.


Strother Martin
Actor: Veteran character whose signature role and line came as the sadistic prison warden in 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” His resume credit immediately before “Up In Smoke”:  Portraying crusty environmentalist T.T. Flowers in a two- part episode of The Rockford Files, The Trees, the Bees and T. T. Flowers,  about urban invasion.

Character: Arnold Stoner, Anthony Stoner’s father, whose movie-opening rant that sends Tommy Chong’s character on the road ends on Martin’s second signature career line: “You get a goddamn job before sundown or we’re shipping you off to military school with the goddamn Finkelstein shit kid. Son of a bitch.”

After Up In Smoke: Martin died of a heart attack on Aug. 1, 1980. He appeared in six movies after “Up In Smoke,” including “The Champ” in 1979. He hosted “Saturday Night Live” on April 19, 1980, reprising his strict “Cool Hand Luke” character as the leader of a children’s camp.



Edie Adams

Actor: A comedienne, actress, singer and businesswoman with roots in the Golden Age of Television who worked with TV legend husband Ernie Kovacs

Character: Mrs. Tempest Stoner, Anthony Stoner’s mother, appeared with Strother Martin in their sole scene.

After Up In Smoke: She appeared in four more movies and several television shows before her last role as Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella.” She died Oct. 15, 2008, at age 81, from cancer and pneumonia.


Stacy Keach
Actor: His other 1978 film credit is playing Capt. Bennett in the star-studded submarine disaster flick “Gray Lady Down.”  Prior to that, he was best known for portraying a boxer past his prime in 1972’s “Fat City.”

Character: Sgt. Stedenko, aka Lard Ass, the beleaguered cop pursuing Pedro De Pacas and Anthony Stoner.

After Up In Smoke: A prolific number of roles in movies and television, including various incarnations of Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled private dick Mike Hammer throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He’s 77 years old and has a role in CBS sitcom “Man with a Plan.”


Tom Skerritt
Actor: He was in Hollywood Korean War satire “M*A*S*H” and appeared in a number of TV World War II,  Western and private-eye dramas.

Character: Strawberry, Pedro De Pacas’ cousin who bears a port wine birthmark on his face and suffers Vietnam War flashbacks.

After Up In Smoke: Among many movies, he was in “Alien” in 1979, “Top Gun” in 1983, “Steel Magnolias” in 1993. He starred in TV’s “Picket Fences” in the 1990s and at age 85 continues working.


June Fairchild
Actress: She appeared in another counterculture movie classic, The Monkee’s 1968 “Head,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” in 1974.

Character: Ajax Lady, who snorted a line of cleaning product and convulsed accordingly.

After Up In Smoke: This was Fairchild’s last acting role. Following a long personal decline, she died Feb. 17, 2015, at age 68.


Ellen Barkin
Actress: This was her first movie, unbilled.

Character: Woman Playing Guitar. That’s young Barkin handling a guitar in the rock show crowd.

After Up In Smoke: A long movie career followed: “Diner,” 1982, “Tender Mercies,” 1983, “The Big Easy,” 1987, “Sea of Love,” 1989, and many more. She remains active in movies and dabbles in TV at age 64.


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An Oral History of Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke

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