Martin Sheen's Life in Photos

As the Hollywood veteran turns 82 on August 3, look back on his most major career milestones and happy family life 

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Martin Sheen's Early Years

(THE INCIDENT) USA, 1967, Regie: Larry Peerce, MARTIN SHEEN. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Getty

Ramón Estévez was born on August 3, 1940 in Dayton, Ohio to parents Mary Ann and Francisco Estévez; his mother died when he was 11. After leaving home to pursue a love of acting in his early 20s, he adopted the stage name "Martin Sheen," in hopes that an anglicized stage name would get him seen for more auditions.

Though he became a successful actor right out of the gate, Sheen has said recently that he regrets feeling compelled to adopt a stage name to succeed. "Sometimes you get persuaded when you don't have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in, and you pay for it later," he told Closer Weekly, adding, "I never changed my name officially. It's still Ramon Estévez on my birth certificate. It's on my marriage license, my passport, driver's license."

02 of 21

Martin Sheen's Marriage

Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen during "Insight" Gala Honors Jack Albertson - March 21, 1980 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

Sheen's wife of more than 60 years, Janet Templeton, was also born in Dayton, but she and Sheen didn't meet until they were both in New York. They married in 1961.

03 of 21

Martin Sheen and his Family

22nd April 1982: The Sheen family stands in a line at an afterparty for the screening of director Robert Greenwald's made-for-TV film 'In the Custody of Strangers'. L-R: Renee, Emilio, Charlie, Martin and Janet. Sheen and son, Emilio Estevez, starred in the film. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty

Together, Sheen and his wife have four children: Ramón Estevez (not pictured), Renée Estevez, Emilio Estevez, and Charlie Sheen (born Carlos Estevez). All of his children grew up to work in the entertainment industry.

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Martin Sheen and Alan Arkin in Catch-22

Martin Sheen and Alan Arkin are scared when bombs start bursting in a scene from the film 'Catch 22', 1970. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)

After several years of playing small parts on TV shows, Sheen got his breakout role as an Air Force pilot in the 1970 satirical war flick, Catch-22. He worked alongside big names such as Alan Arkin, Orson Welles and Art Garfunkel.

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Martin Sheen in a Trailblazing Role

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 01: Walt Disney Television via Getty Images MOVIE OF THE WEEK - "That Certain Summer" - 11/1/72, Teen-ager Nick Satter (Scott Jacoby) must deal with his divorced father Doug's (Hal Holbrook, right) homosexuality. Martin Sheen (Gary), co-stars., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
ABC Photo Archives/Disney/Getty

In 1972, Sheen and Hal Holbrook portrayed on-screen lovers in the TV movie That Certain Summer. The Golden Globe-winning film stirred controversy with its sensitive, progressive depiction of homosexuality.

Sheen has looked back proudly upon That Certain Summer's success, calling it a "huge hit" when speaking to the Dallas Voice in 2007. "It was about being human," said Sheen, who played Gary McClain in the film. "It was about being honest, and that's the bottom line."

06 of 21

Martin Sheen Co-Stars with his Brother

Unspecified - 1974: (L-R) Martin Sheen, Joe Estevez appearing in the ABC tv movie 'The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd'. (Photo by Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

In 1974, Sheen shared the screen with his little brother Joe Estévez in The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd.

07 of 21

Martin Sheen's Biggest Break Yet in Apocalypse Now

American actors Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper with director Francis Ford Coppola on the set of the his movie Apocalypse Now, based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness. (Photo by © Caterine Milinaire/Sygma via Getty Images)
Caterine Milinaire/Sygma/Getty

Though Sheen had become one to watch in the years leading up to Apocalypse Now, he became a household name after starring in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 epic set during the Vietnam War. Cast in the A-list company of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall, Sheen leads as U.S. Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard.

Though the film was massively successful and Sheen's earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor, he struggled during filming in the Philippines, telling Rolling Stone that he had a heart attack and a nervous breakdown in part because of the difficult subject matter and unhealthy habits he adopted during the shoot.

08 of 21

Martin Sheen on Saturday Night Live

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Epiosde 7 -- Air Date 12/15/1979 -- Pictured: (l-r) Martin Sheen as the father, Jane Curtin as the mother, Gilda Radner as Jenny during the "Afraid of the Dark" skit on December 15, 1979 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank
Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Sheen hosted the sketch comedy show in December 1979, just months after Apocalypse Now caused his celebrity status to skyrocket. He tapped into his comedic ability for a sketch alongside Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner.

09 of 21

Martin Sheen's First Time Playing a President

(Original Caption) Dallas, Texas: Actor Martin Sheen playing John F. Kennedy and actress Blair Brown playing Jacqueline Kennedy, are surrounded by actors playing Secret Service Agents during the filming of the seven hour television mini-series Kennedy.

In 1983, Sheen played President John F. Kennedy in the award-winning miniseries Kennedy — which would be the first of many presidents he would portray. The presidential biography also featured Blair Brown in the role of first lady Jacqueline Onassis.

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Martin Sheen and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street

Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen
20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

Sheen and his son Charlie — his only child to adopt "Sheen" as a stage name — joined forces in the 1987 drama, Wall Street. The younger Sheen portrays a young stockbroker navigating capital and corruption; naturally, Martin Sheen plays his father. (Also pictured: Michael Douglas as stockbroker Gordon Gekko.)

11 of 21

Martin Sheen Gets a Star

Martin Sheen during Martin Sheen Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for His Achievements in Film at Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty

Sheen's stardom was immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989. Friends, family members, and collaborators came to celebrate Sheen's moment.

12 of 21

Martin Sheen's Son Gets a Star

Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen; Emilio Estevez
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Like father, like son! In 1994, Charlie Sheen was also honored with a star on the Walk of Fame. The patriarch posed with his sons Charlie, left, and Emilio Estevez, who is also an actor.

13 of 21

Martin Sheen Plays a President Again

NBC / Everett

From 1999 to 2006, Sheen starred as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet in the political drama series, The West Wing. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the show was a huge success and earned him six Emmy nominations for the role.

Sheen's co-stars included Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, and Rob Lowe.

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Martin Sheen at the Emmy Awards

Martin Sheen & Allison Janney during The 52nd Annual Emmy Awards - Pressroom at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

Sheen and Allison Janney celebrated The West Wing's first Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in 2000. The series won the same award for four consecutive years.

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Martin Sheen at the SAG Awards

Martin Sheen wins for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for "The West Wing" (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

Sheen won two SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, in 2001 and 2002, for his West Wing performance.

16 of 21

Martin Sheen's Political Activism

AP Photo/Phil Klein

In October of 2000, Sheen protested military involvement in the exploration of outer space at the Vandenberg Air Force base, reported the Los Angeles Times.

This was hardly Sheen's first or last time standing up for his political beliefs. According to the Daily Mail, Sheen shared that he had been arrested 66 times, in a 2009 speech given at Oxford University.

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Martin Sheen in The Departed

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock (5886259bb) Martin Sheen, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo Dicaprio The Departed - 2006 Director: Martin Scorsese Warner Bros. USA On/Off Set Documentary Les infiltrés
Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Sheen played Captain Queenan in Martin Scorsese's The Departed. He acted alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. The film took home the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2007.

18 of 21

Martin Sheen Returns to Theater

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Cast member Martin Sheen poses with his family Emilio Estevez, Ramon Estevez, Charlie Sheen and Renee Estevez backstage after the opening night performance of "The Subject Was Roses" at the Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum on February 21, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Getty Images)
Ryan Miller/Getty

In 2010, Sheen returned to the stage in The Subject Was Roses — which coincidentally was one of the first shows he performed early in his career. After starring in the Pulitzer-winning play as Timmy Cleary in 1964, Sheen returned nearly 50 years later to play Timmy's father, John Cleary.

Sheen celebrated with his children after the show's opening night in Los Angeles.

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Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez Collaborate on The Way

Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen

The Way (2010) was directed, written, and produced by Sheen's oldest son, Emilio Estevez. In the film, Sheen embarks on a pilgrimage through Spain.

In 2012, Sheen and Estevez collaborated again with a joint memoir called Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son.

20 of 21

Martin Sheen at the Apocalypse Now 40th Anniversary Screening

Laurence Fishburne, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Sheen
Michael Kovac/Getty

Sheen revisited the career-defining film for its 40th anniversary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019. He attended the "Final Cut" special screening alongside co-star Laurence Fishburne and director Francis Ford Coppola.

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Martin Sheen's Most Recent Roles

Melissa Moseley/Netflix

From 2015 until 2022, Sheen portrayed Robert Hanson in Grace and Frankie, starring alongside Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston. The Netflix comedy revolves around two couples who fall apart — but come back together in a new way — when Sheen and Waterston's characters reveal they have fallen in love and are leaving their wives.

Sheen continues to act regularly and contribute his time for causes he believes in, including a West Wing reunion special about the importance of voting. His most recent job, a TV series called Ramble On, is in post-production.

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