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Martin Sheen: 1940—: Actor, Activist

Proud Of Hispanic Heritage

Sheen's parish priest gave him bus fare to New York. He took the usual variety of low-income jobs such as clerking while pursuing his acting dream and going on casting calls. At this time he changed his name because jobs for Hispanic actors were almost nonexistent. He chose Sheen in honor of prominent televangelist Fulton Sheen. In an interview with Horizon Magazine, Sheen said, "I'm very proud of my Hispanic heritage … I never changed my name. I never will. In the context of the business, I had to adapt to a way of nonconfrontation 40 years ago, so I invented myself. I invented Martin Sheen. Within my heart I'm still Ramon."

Sheen never took formal acting lessons. He began working with the experimental theater groups—The Actors' Co-op and The Living Theater—and did custodial work at the theater and sometimes was an under-study before moving up to appearing on stage. Early roles included ones in Yeat's Purgatory and the controversial Connection, a play about drug addiction. At this time Sheen met Janet Templeton, an art student who became his wife in 1961.

At a Glance . . .

Born Ramon Estevez on August 3, 1940, in Dayton, OH; married Janet Templeton, 1961; children: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Ramon Estevez, Renée Estevez. Religion: Catholic. Politics: Democrat.

Career: Actor's Co-op/Living Theatre, New York, 1961; numerous films, including: The Incident, 1967; Catch-22, 1972; Badlands, 1974; Apocalypse Now, 1979; Gandhi, 1982; Firestarter, 1984; Wall Street, 1987; Cadence, 1989; The American President, 1995; Spawn, 1997; Not Another Teen Movie, 2001; Stockpile, 2001; The Apostle Paul, 2001; The Confidence Game, 2002; Catch Me If You Can, 2002; We the People, 2002; tv series: The West Wing, 1999-.

Awards: Tony nomination, Subject Was Roses, 1964; Golden Globe Best Television Actor, Blind Ambition, 1979; Emmy, Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, Murphy Brow, 1993; Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, 1998; Golden Satellite, Best Actor in a Television Series (Drama), The West Wing, 1999; TV Guide, Favorite Actor in a New Series, The West Wing, 2000; Golden Globe, Best Actor in a Television Series (Drama), The West Wing, 2000.

In 1964 Sheen received critical acclaim on Broadway in The Subject was Roses in which he played a soldier returning home to his fractured family. He was nominated for a Tony award and also received a Golden Globe award nomination for his lead in the film adaptation. Throughout much of his career, Sheen has continued to work sporadically in theater.

Sheen first appeared in film as a teenage hoodlum who hijacked a subway in 1967's The Incident. He gave an arresting performance as the amoral teen killer in 1973's Badlands, but was less than stellar in the horror movies Spawn, Firestarter, and The Dead Zone. More recently, he has done excellent supporting work in respected films such as Gandhi, 1982 and The American President, 1995, in which he played the Chief of Staff. In the 1987 movie Wall Street, he played opposite his son Charlie.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyMartin Sheen: 1940—: Actor, Activist Biography - Proud Of Hispanic Heritage, Heart Of Darkness, Dedicated To Social Causes, An Acting Dynasty