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Martin Sheen: 1940—: Actor, Activist

Dedicated To Social Causes

In 1999 Sheen began his portrayal of another President on the very successful television show The West Wing. He plays New England Democrat President Josiah Bartlet, a role that has won him Emmy nominations. Although his character was a very decent, moral man, the role sometimes required Sheen to champion causes to which he was personally opposed. Sheen, however, is able to separate his very strongly held beliefs from his acting career. His dedication to anti-nuclear weapons, anti-death penalty, workers' rights, and other causes have lead to his arrest on approximately 70 occasions.

Sheen didn't just show up at rallies, either. Sheen donated his income from the motion picture Gandhi to Mother Teresa. He helped pay for medical care for three young survivors of a massacre at a church in Mexico. Other favored causes included the United Farm Workers and the rights of the homeless.

Sheen was a strong supporter of the Democratic party. Despite his dedication to social causes and his frequent portrayals of political figures, Sheen says he has no interest in running for office himself. He is forthright about other conflicts between his acting career and his beliefs. In 1999 he stated his agreement with the views of Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, who decried Hollywood's obsession with sex and violence. He will not accept roles that contain unnecessary sex or violence. Sheen believes that he has probably lost jobs because of his activism, but that he may have been hired for others by people who supported his views.

Sheen has been nominated for and has won awards in all fields of acting, from Tonys to Emmys. In 1998 Sheen received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Imagen Foundation, an organization that honors positive portrayals of Latinos in film, television, and advertising. He received Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for Kennedy and for Best TV Actor for the miniseries Blind Ambition. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series on Murphy Brown. He has also received awards for his social activism, including the 2001 Peacemaker Award from the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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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