Despite having no money, Martin Sheen and his wife Janet enjoyed a happy marriage. But catastrophe struck years later, and Sheen was hospitalized and on the edge of death. Fortunately, Janet remained by his side, as she did four decades later when he underwent open heart surgery. Even after six decades together, the couple is still inseparable.
Martin Sheen, born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez, is an American actor best known for his appearances in fan favorites such as “Mission Impossible,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “The American President,” “Spawn,” and “Columbo.”
After appearing in “The Subject Was Roses” in 1968 and “Badlands” in 1973, the actor gained critical recognition. But he became a huge star when he played Captain Benjamin Willard in “Apocalypse Now,” an epic psychological war thriller from 1979.
Sheen has adorned the silver screen for decades, playing in films back-to-back and achieving Hollywood fame that many people only dream about.
Nonetheless, his prodigious acting career, which included performances in over 60 films, is only one of his numerous accomplishments. Sheen is particularly proud of his lovely marriage to Janet Sheen, which has lasted over six decades and is still going strong. But how did it all start?
Sheen was just 20 years old when his path intersected Janet’s, a long time before the “Running Wild” star made it big in Hollywood. Sheen was a wannabe jazz musician who spent much of his time in a Greenwich Village apartment in 1960.
At the time, he was not really contemplating seeking love and was unaware that he would soon meet the lady with whom he would spend the rest of his life.
Janet had just arrived in New York in the winter of 1960, having spent the previous six years in Kentucky with her grandparents before moving to Cleveland to attend public school. She was also a recipient of scholarships to the Cleveland Institute of Art and Western Reserve University.
She was studying painting on a scholarship at the New School for Social Research at the time of their meeting. The couple fell in love quickly and were eager to tackle the world together.
But there was one significant problem: they didn’t have a single dime to their names. Initially, the couple struggled to make ends meet, skimping on meals and even failing to put food on the table. That, however, was not a deal-breaker for any party. They knew that by staying together, they would be able to conquer their obstacles.
Then they found out Janet was expecting their first child. Despite their dire circumstances, they remained calm. Sheen grew up in a large family, and he claims that whenever his parents received a new baby which happened practically every other year the older children would just move over to make more room.
Sheen and Janet did what any couple in love would do. The next year, on December 23, 1961, they married. They married in a small ceremony at the altar of the Church of St. Stephen on East 28th Street, wedged between an 8:00 a.m. mass and a burial service.
They enjoyed an impromptu breakfast reception with many friends at the neighborhood Jewish deli after exchanging vows. Despite its simplicity, the wedding exceeded Sheen’s expectations. He states:
“I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Emilio, the couple’s first child, was born in 1962. Emilio, like his parents, is an actor best remembered for his role as Andrew Clark on “The Breakfast Club.” He has also directed films such as “Men at Work,” “The Way,” and “The Public.”
Ramón Sheen, their second son, was born in 1963. Ramón also dabbled in acting before partnering with his father to launch Estévez Sheen Productions in the early 2000s.
Charlie Sheen, their third child, was born in 1965 and, like his parents and siblings, went on to become an actor, best known for his roles in “Anger Management,” “Spin City,” and “Wall Street.” His other film role was as Charlie Harper in “Two and a Half Men.”
Sheen and Janet welcomed their only daughter, Renée Estevez, two years after Charlie, who went on to star in films such as “JAG,” “The West Wing,” and “Heathers.”
It’s no wonder that all of their children became performers, given that Sheen and Janet are both well-known names in the profession. Janet, like her husband, created a reputation for herself in the acting world, appearing in various films, including the 1983 miniseries “Kennedy.”
Her profession, however, does not stop at acting. She has also done production work, most notably producing the 1989 film “Beverly Hills Brats” and serving as executive producer for “The Way,” a drama film starring her husband.
For a long period, the actor and his wife of “The Departed” enjoyed a happy and peaceful existence, raising their four children together, but tragedy struck at the end of the 1970s.
Martin was on the verge of death, but Janet remained at his side.
Sheen has long stated that his performance in “Apocalypse Now” as a US Army special operations officer was one of his favorites. Nonetheless, he experienced one of the most horrifying experiences of his life while making that film. He had a serious health problem that would come back to bother him nearly 40 years later.
The movie followed Sheen, an experienced assassin who was on his third tour in Vietnam, as well as Frederic Forrest, Robert Duvall, and Marlon Brando.
Sheen put a lot of effort into the job. After all, it was his first big one, and it was destined to launch him into permanent renown and glory. It was, however, so severe that it ate away at his bodily and mental health.
He remembers waking up one morning and glancing in the mirror, noticing how awful he looked. He claims he began to feel odd and faint and had to dress up while lying on the floor to prevent collapsing.
He then dragged himself to the road, pulled himself up, and stood there waiting. When a wardrobe van went by and scooped him up, the production designer burst into tears. Sheen recalls struggling to remain awake. The actor claims he knew if he went unconscious, he would not wake up.
The film was shot in relatively distant settings, which provided a dilemma when the actor, who was in his mid-thirties at the time, suffered a serious heart attack that almost killed him. After falling, a community doctor assisted in stabilizing him so he could be evacuated out of the bush.
He even summoned a priest to perform his dying rites. Even after all these years, the actor still finds it difficult to talk about that time period. He states:
“All I wanted to do was get to Janet.”
He recalls lying there for hours as the rest of the crew debated whether flying him out in a chopper was worth the danger. Sheen was soon transported to Manila and then driven into a hospital in an ambulance.
Sheen claims that as they drove towards the hospital, he jumped up and began untying his shoes. The paramedics yelled at him to lie down, but he was adamant about getting his boots off. Why?
He recalls seeing personnel from the mortuary carting away a dead guy when he first visited New York many years ago. One of them removed the dead man’s shoes and discarded them.
With his mind rushing back in time and pondering the circumstances he was in, Sheen continued thinking that if he could just remove the boots himself, he would make it out alive.
When they arrived at the hospital, the actor recalled seeing his wife fleeing down the corridor as medical personnel pushed him in on a gurney. All she could say as he gazed up at her was:
“It’s only a film, sweetie. “Please, it’s only a film!”
Sheen experienced a psychological breakdown in addition to a heart attack. Fortunately, he had someone who never left his side. He claims Janet stayed with him throughout his recuperation, assisting him in getting back on his feet. She also hired a therapist in New York to meet with Sheen on a regular basis. He states:
“I utterly disintegrated.” My spirit had been revealed. I sobbed uncontrollably. I had been entirely grayed out. I was in critical care. Janet slept next to me on the floor.
Janet became Sheen’s rock of strength during some of his worst days. She sat on the floor by his hospital bed, tending to him as he battled the sickness.
Sheen admits that he only made it because his wife and therapist believed in him. However, he accepts full responsibility for landing in this position in the first place.
He admitted that his immense ego and irrational desire to be in a Coppola picture had put him in such a bind and that he could only recover by completely acknowledging that truth.
Janet’s devotion and commitment to Sheen would be demonstrated several times during the life-threatening crisis. Sheen would confront another health issue over four decades later, and Janet would remain at his side and help him recover.
Janet was there again for Sheen.
Sheen was taken to a Los Angeles hospital in December 2015 for quadruple bypass surgery, which is an open cardiac procedure conducted to increase blood flow to the heart muscle. Emilio Sheen, Sheen’s oldest son, revealed that the choice was more proactive than reactive.
Emilio posted on Facebook that his father was doing well after the surgery and thanked the nurses, doctors, and cardiologists for their help.
Emilio expressed his father’s desire to recuperate quickly and return to work as soon as possible, writing:
“Not unexpectedly, he is recuperating well, is out of the ICU, and is anticipated to be 100% by the time he returns to work on season three of the Netflix comedy, “Grace and Frankie,” early next year.”
He also said that his mother, Janet, has been by Sheen’s side, something Sheen appreciates and recognizes. During an interview with Closer, Sheen said that his wife had been by his side during his surgery and rehab, adding:
“She stayed the entire time, and I laughed my way back.”
He said that even though it was a terrible time, Janet handled it well and made him laugh even when things were at their worst. She also told him often not to take himself too seriously.
Janet has remained by his side through thick and thin, exactly as she promised in their marriage vows, and he is eternally thankful. The “Catch Me If You Can” star lavishes praise on his wife for this and many other reasons.
When asked if they celebrate their anniversaries, Sheen said that they don’t make a big deal about it, and when they do, it’s just for their children and grandkids, since, in his words:
“With this dame, every day is a party.”
Sheen has obviously been dealt some big curveballs in life, but he has remained strong because of his wife’s support. Theirs is not a typical marriage of convenience. It is a partnership founded on love and support, and it is no surprise that it has lasted this long.
When asked how he has managed to stay married to the same woman for over five decades as a Hollywood A-lister, Sheen admits he has no idea:
“No, I don’t.” “But I’ve never met somebody with more honesty in my life.”
He said that he couldn’t keep up with her and that it took him a long time to be as straightforward and even with her as she had always been with him.
“And that’s how the connection works.” “I honestly have no idea who [Janet] is because every time I think I’ve caught up with her, she’s gone.” He cracks a joke.