Martin Sheen: 1940—: Actor, Activist Biography
Proud Of Hispanic Heritage, Heart Of Darkness, Dedicated To Social Causes, An Acting Dynasty
A powerful, versatile actor, Martin Sheen is equally convincing in roles as diverse as the rebel killer in Badlands, a homophobic father in Consenting Adults, and President Kennedy in the television miniseries JFK. In his film roles Sheen has often played the loner or outsider, whereas many of his television portrayals are of historical or political figures. His political activism is at least as important to him as his acting career; he is tireless in his appearance at rallies and protests for nuclear disarmament, homeless rights, opposition to the death penalty, and other causes.
Martin Sheen was born Ramon Estevez on August 3, 1940 in Dayton, Ohio, the seventh of ten children. His father, Francisco, was a Spanish emigre; his Irish-American mother, Mary Ann, died when he was 11. The family was quite poor and at times had to turn to local Catholic organizations for assistance.
Young Ramon decided to become an actor after a small role in The Caine Mutiny at Chaminade High School. This led to a prize-winning appearance on a local television talent show. His father wanted him to go to the University of Dayton rather than attempting to become an actor. To avoid directly defying his father's wishes, Ramon deliberately failed the college entrance exam.
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