Born Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez on August 3, 1940, he adopted Martin Sheen as his professional name and is known for his roles in "The Subject Was Roses" and "Badlands."
The actor with a striking acting range achieved wide recognition in 1979 when he played the lead role as Captain Benjamin Willard in "Apocalypse Now."
Martin Sheen is a multiple Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe Awards winner and is one of America's most celebrated, accomplished, and colorful actors.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen during The Museum of Television & Radio's Annual Gala to Salute James Burrows & Martin Sheen in Beverly Hills [left], Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen at the screening of "The Incident" on April 8, 2017, in Los Angeles [right] | Photo: Getty Images
CHILD OF IMMIGRANTS DREAMING TO BE AN ACTOR
Martin was born to an Irish mother, Mary-Ann Phelan, and a Spanish father, Francisco Estévez Martínez. His parents had met in Ohio when they were both attending citizenship school.
He was born in Dayton, Ohio, and is of ten children. At birth, a pair of forceps crushed his left shoulder and left his left arm paralyzed for a long time, causing him to have limited lateral movement of his left arm.
Growing up, he didn't see his family as poor because everyone they knew lived like them. Before his 11th birthday, he lost his mother, and even though it was tough for him, it made him very strong, tolerant, and appreciative of his father.
Martin Sheen poses for a portrait in Los Angeles in 2001 | Photo: Getty Images
As a young child, around six or seven years old, he started going to the movies, and gradually, it dawned on Martin that he was going to be an actor.
While going to high school, he worked as a caddy for nine years at a private golf club in Dayton, Ohio. He had great experiences there and was able to help his father.
Martin wasn't interested in anything other than the dramatics club, where he did a lot of plays in high school. Father Alfred Drapp became his mentor and loaned Sheen the money he needed to go to New York.
Martin Sheen at the Premiere of "Apocalypse Now Final Cut" on August 12, 2019, in Hollywood | Photo: Getty Images
The first time Martin stepped on stage was as a freshman when he played the role of a yeoman court stenographer in "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" by Herman Wouk.
After moving to New York in his early 20s, he realized his name wasn't helpful as he tried to make it as an actor. People couldn't pronounce it, and so he decided to change it.
For a new stage name, he took the names of two people he found inspirational: one was Robert Dale Martin, a casting director at CBS, and the other, Fulton J Sheen, the American archbishop. However, he still retained his birth name on his ID.
Martin Sheen speaks during the GCAPP EmPOWER Party & 25th Anniversary Virtual Event on November 12, 2020 | Photo: Getty Images
MEETING THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE
Martin is married to Janet Sheen, born July 8, 1944, in Ohio, as Janet Elizabeth Templeton. She is an actress with two acting credits to her name and a producer. Janet is known for "The Way," "Kennedy," and "Beverly Hills Brats."
Martin and Janet met in the winter of 1960 after Janet arrived in New York from Ohio. She was the only daughter of an unwed mother and had spent her first six years with her grandparents in Kentucky.
Janet then moved to Cleveland, where she attended public schools before gaining two university scholarships. After they had started dating, they were still struggling to make ends meet when Janet got pregnant with their first son, Emilio.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen during "Insight" Gala Honors Jack Albertson - March 21, 1980, in Beverly Hills | Photo: Getty Images
They were young when they got married on December 23, 1961. It was a fifteen-minute ceremony at the altar of the church of St. Stephen. Their wedding was sandwiched between an 8 a.m. Mass and a funeral.
Afterward, they had an impromptu breakfast reception at a Jewish deli in the neighborhood with a dozen of friends from the Living Theatre. The day couldn't have been more perfect for the couple.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen at the Patricia Knop's "Sideshow" paintings and sculpture show at Trigg Ison Fine Arts Gallery on May 18, 2013 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images
STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET
Their financial struggles continued, and they were evicted from their home. They packed what they could fill in a suitcase and went to live with Martin's father and brothers.
He later found a cheap apartment and lived in the same building Paul Newman once rented. For two years, the building became their home.
When they had their second son, Ramón, the baby came so fast that they didn't have time to go to the hospital and had to deliver their baby alone.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen during Harvey Weinstein Hosts a Private Screening of "Bobby" for Senators Obama and Schumer | Photo: Getty Images
They had a complicated delivery as the baby got stuck in the birth canal, and Janet hemorrhaged. Martin called for an ambulance, but the baby arrived first.
Martin thought they would have twins until Janet corrected him when the placenta was about to come out. Thankfully, both mother and son were pronounced fine by the time they got to the hospital.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen during "The West Wing" 100th Episode Celebration in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images
SCARIEST WOMAN BUT THE BEST WIFE
While filming his Vietnam movie "Apocalypse Now" in the Philippines, Martin had become skinny and suffered a heart attack, but his wife helped him get grounded.
After the heart attack, he was airlifted to Makati Medical Center in Manila. As he was being raced down the corridor in a gurney, Janet whispered to him, saying it's only a movie.
When he realized she was right, he started to recover, and the bond they formed on that day solidified their marriage. He had survived the heart attack's mental part, and Janet was helping him heal psychically.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen at the 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 19, 2003 | Photo: Getty Images
In December 2015, when he underwent quadruple-bypass heart surgery, his wife was there trying to make him laugh. She was always telling him not to take himself so seriously.
For Martin, his wife Janet is the "scariest woman" he has ever met, she's never afraid to tell him the truth, and he's so thankful that he married her.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen at the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Award | Photo: Getty Images
When he was a struggling alcoholic and troubled in many areas, his wife had her work cut out for her. However, he didn't get sober until ten years after his first heart attack.
When he and Janet celebrated their 50th anniversary, Martin was asked how he had managed to stay married to the same woman for so long. He said he didn't know how that had happened.
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen at the Special Premiere of "SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER" on October 6, 2006, in New York | Photo: Getty Images
For him, he had never met a person with more integrity in his life. It had taken him a long time to be as even and direct as she is because he honestly couldn't keep up with her. He said
"And that's the relationship. I honestly don't have a clue who she is because when I get to the point where I've caught up with her, she's gone."
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen at the Premiere of "Apocalypse Now Final Cut" on August 12, 2019, in Hollywood | Photo: Getty Images
SUPPORTIVE DAD TO KIDS WHO FOLLOWED HIS FOOTSTEPS
Martin is a loving and supportive father to Emilio, Ramón, Carlos (Charlie Sheen), and Renée. Emilio is a film director, screenwriter, and producer who famously became part of the informal mid-1980s "Brat Pack."
Ramón is an actor and theater director who has appeared in several movies in the 1980s and 1990s, like "Cadence," "A State of Emergency," and more.
Carlos, popularly known as Charlie, is also an actor known for his roles in "Platoon," co-starred with his father in "Wall Street" and starred in the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" making him the highest-paid actor in TV.
Emilio Estevez, Ramone Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Janet Sheen, and Martin Sheen as Charlie Sheen was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame | Photo: Getty Images
His last child, Renée, is an actress and screenwriter who first started in 1986 in "Babies Having Babies." She has also starred in "Shattered Spirits" and "Heathers."
Martin never imagined his children would follow in his footsteps. He was surprised when he saw Emilio on the movie set, where he discovered his son's talent. He also ensured they didn't get any roles by asking for favors.