Leo (That '70s Show)
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|That '70s Show character|
|Last appearance||"That '70s Finale"
|Created by||Mark Brazill|
|Portrayed by||Tommy Chong|
|Nickname(s)||The Hippie, Dirty Old Hippie, Mr. Hippie, Hophead, Smokey The Bear, Dopehead|
|Occupation||World War II veteran
Record store employee
Foto Hut owner (out of business)
Leonard "Leo" Chingkwake (Born 1919) is a fictional character on the Fox sitcom That '70s Show, portrayed by Tommy Chong. The character is an aging hippie and the owner of a Foto Hut at which Steven Hyde worked. Leo himself does not have a strong work ethic, often putting play before work and maintaining an easy-going attitude in all things, business included. He once promoted Hyde to manager of Foto Hut. He is one of the very few older characters allowed into the "circle".
Leo is first introduced in the episode "Sleepover" as he interviews Hyde at the Foto Hut for a job. He asks if Hyde "likes photos", to which Hyde agrees, and is given the job on the spot. Leo likes Hyde's ideas and suggestions for the shop, but doesn't like when Hyde starts to take work seriously, and Leo threatens to fire him if he tidies up. (Leo later hires Fez part-time, telling him "You're on probation," then remembering a moment later that he's on probation, and overdue to meet with his probation officer. Leo then hurries out the door.)
In the Season 3 finale "The Promise Ring", when Eric decides it's time to buy Donna a promise ring, Kelso knows "a guy" who can sell him one cheaply... who turns out to be Leo, meeting the boys in an alley. Donna refuses the ring, and when Eric brings it back, Leo is visibly upset for the young couple.
In "Radio Daze", Hyde and Kelso help Leo clean his garage, discovering the space was taken up by a Chevrolet El Camino Leo forgot he owned. Between vehicles since losing his Ford Econoline van, Kelso makes an offer to buy the car, haggling back and forth with Leo until they agree to $500. Jackie puts up the money, but Leo changes his mind, and gives the car to Hyde, "the son I never had". When Kelso reminds Leo that he does have a son (whom he'd considered giving the car before they lost contact), Leo tells him "Yeah, I know, but Hyde's the son I never had."
Fez begs Hyde for the chance to try driving the El Camino; he mistakes reverse for forward, rams the car into a pile of boxes - and injures Leo, who'd been napping behind them. Recovering in the hospital, Leo is tended by Kitty, falls in love with her and visits the Formans a few times to see her, until Red puts his foot down.
Absence and Return
Leo was written out of the series, due to Tommy Chong serving a jail sentence. Leo is absent throughout most of season 5 with no explanation, until the episode "The Battle of Evermore" when Hyde gets worried about Leo because he hasn't seen him since he gave Hyde a week off work, three weeks earlier. Hyde recruits Kelso, Fez and Jackie and they look all over Point Place to find him. They go by the Foto Hut and it's closed down with everything gone. They go to Leo's apartment, meeting his cousin Eli who confirms that Leo left town, but he also left Hyde a letter: "One day I stopped in Point Place for some gas, before I knew it eight years had passed. Whoa, that rhymes. Anyway, I should get home to my wife. Take care, you're a good kid, man. You're a good kid, man". As a farewell gift, Leo also left Hyde a large film can filled with marijuana, which he shares with the gang.
During his absence in seasons 5 and 6, he was somewhat replaced by another character named Roy Keen, who was portrayed by comedian Jim Gaffigan. Roy and Hyde knew each other from a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program a few years earlier; now managing a hotel kitchen, he hires Hyde as a cook through a job fair. Roy tended to be slow-witted, much like Leo, and filled a similar role among the gang. Gaffigan left the series after two seasons, after Hyde meets his real father, William Bennett (Tim Reid), and goes to work for him, becoming manager of Point Place's new Grooves Records outlet.
Leo returns to the show in the seventh season episode "Down The Road Apiece" after nearly a three-season absence. Eric becomes stranded during a road trip, and Leo happens along, taking Eric to a nearby truck stop. They greet each other as old friends, but Leo then asks, "Do I know you, man?" This trend continues with everyone he meets from Point Place, until he sees Hyde again, and calls him by name. Hyde hires Leo to work at Grooves Records, when Leo decides to move back.
At the beginning of season eight, Hyde returns from Las Vegas to find the store turned into a virtual crash pad. The merchandise is missing, a bunch of hippies are sitting around the main room smoking, and when Hyde tries to enter his office, he discovers an orgy is taking place (which Leo immediately tries to join). Hyde fires Leo during a subsequent circle (to cushion the blow for both) and hires newcomer Randy. Leo accepts the news, acknowledging that he messed up, but is happy when Hyde reinstates him a minute later, and keeps Randy on "to do the work you weren't doing".
However, despite having a main role, he was still a recurring character in Season 8 due to him being absent in several episodes such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Misfire", "We Will Rock You", along with other episodes.
In the first half of the series finale, Leo and the others try to convince Hyde to start back smoking (which he'd quit after a panic attack). He receives the same termination letter from Grooves Records as Hyde; rather than being upset, Leo thanks Bennett for taking the time to write to him. He also appears at the Formans' New Year's party: When Kitty tells everyone in the room why she loves them, she tells Leo that he always makes her day when he smiles and waves "hello"... even when he is urinating on her mailbox.
Leo is a permanently stoned hippie (although he did become briefly cured when the Formans served him a cup of coffee in "Long Away"), the owner of a Foto Hut shop, and the employer of Steven Hyde. His marijuana use has left him quite dimwitted, to the point of doing nothing about misdeeds that are about to be performed by the teenagers that should be brought to the attention of parents or authorities, even if he disapproves of these actions. He has little regard for his major duties as a store owner and would rather take the time to play board games with Hyde than work.
Leo enjoys attending church in Point Place, declaring it to be "almost a religious experience!", and he sings during services. When the kids quit the church Christmas play and tie Pastor Dave up with a string of lights, Leo gives them a rare talking-to, showing his disappointment and causing the gang to reconsider.
In Season 8, Red hired Leo to be the official photographer at one of his World War II reunions where it was revealed (after being recognized by some old war buddies) that Leo was a veteran himself, much to Red's surprise. Leo, who had been an Army supply truck driver, had driven his truck into the middle of a German tank formation and rescued a platoon of GI's, for which he was awarded a medal for his efforts. He forgot what it was called but said that "it was shaped like a Purple Heart". After the war finished he had returned to Fort Dix, New Jersey, intending to work in his father's pharmacy and then go to medical school. It was while leaving Fort Dix that he became addicted to marijuana after thumbing a car ride with some jazz musicians (claiming that it was the last thing he remembered until Kitty poured him a cup of coffee over 30 years later). Another consequence of his drug use is a poor memory, mistaking different objects for items other than what they actually are, and forgetting the current year.