Before Dayton’s Martin Sheen was a star, the Dorothy Lane Market owner gave him a career boost

Martin Sheen has become one of the biggest celebrities ever from Dayton.

The Chaminade High School graduate told the Dayton Daily News in 1962 that he used the name Martin Sheen instead of his given Ramon Estevez because he was told his name sounded “too Puerto Rican.”

He came up with the name by combining names of two people: Robert Dale Martin of CBS and Catholic writer and theologian Fulton J. Sheen, he told a reporter.

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And, we should say, there’s a correction to make 60 years later. In the first full-length feature on Sheen, we spelled his name “Shean.”

“Ramon Estevez washed dishes and scrubbed floors, while (Martin Sheen) made the rounds looking for any kind of acting job,” he said in the story noting that, as of its writing, he had a 3-month-old son named Emilio.

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By 1964, when he was featured again in the Dayton Daily News, he was the star of surprise Broadway hit “The Subject was Roses.”

He said his most notable break in Dayton came in 1958 when he appeared on the local show “The Rising Generation.”

“I tried to tell people, ‘Look, I don’t sing, I don’t dance. What am I gonna do? So I decided to reach some passages from the Bible,” he told the reporter in 1964.

“But there was a wonderful man sponsoring that show: Calvin Mayne, who put on the program for his Dorothy Lane supermarket,” he said. “Out of the show, and through him, I won an audition for CBS in New York.”

He got his break in 1960 with a part in “The Connection,” an off-Broadway show. He then got a series of television roles in 1961 that got him moving.

By 1979, a feature on Sheen was headlined “Actor Sheen comes home a star.” It covered his appearance at a three-day theater workshop at the University of Dayton.

The biggest revelation from that appearance was that Sheen said he purposely failed his college entrance exam so he could take the trip to New York to try to start his acting career.

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