The True Identity of Charlie Sheen: Tracing The Roots of The Estevez Family

Until this past weekend, you probably didn’t know that Charlie Sheen’s birth name is Carlos Irwin Estevez. That’s because, to our knowledge, it’s the first time he has personally mentioned his birth name to the media.

In case you were trapped under a rock, here’s a quick recap of the events that led to Charlie somewhat “identifying”: After being called anti-Semitic for referring to Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre as Chaim Levine—the Hebrew translation of Lorre’s birth name, Charles Levine—Sheen defended himself to TMZ by saying: "I was referring to Chuck by his real name, because I wanted to address the man, not the bullsh*t TV persona. So you're telling me, anytime someone calls me Carlos Estevez, I can claim they are anti-Latino?"

This morning, Sheen apologized (sort of) to Lorre during his interview on Good Morning America.

There’s hardly a better time to dig deep into the history of the showbiz family’s real name, so without further adieu: Meet Los Estevez.

Charlie Sheen’s father, actor Martin Sheen, 70, was born Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estevez to an Irish mother (Mary Ann Phelan) and a Spanish father (Francisco Estevez). Together with wife Janet Templeton, Martin has four children: sons Emilio Estevez, 48; Ramon Estevez, 47; and Carlos Estevez (Charlie Sheen), 45; and a daughter, Renée Estevez, 43, best known for her recurring role as White House staffmember Nancy on NBC’s The West Wing (1999-2006).

In a 2003 Inside the Actors Studio interview, Martin talked in depth about changing his name to Martin Sheen, which is a combination of the CBS casting director who gave him his first big break (Robert Dale Martin) and a certain Catholic televangelist whom he considered ‘a magnificent actor’ (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). “Whenever I would call for an appointment, whether it was a job or an apartment, and I would give my name, there was always that hesitation and when I'd get there, it was always gone,” Martin told James Lipton. “So I thought, I got enough problems trying to get an acting job, so I invented Martin Sheen. It's still Estevez officially. I never changed it officially. I never will. It's on my driver's license and passport and everything. I started using Sheen, I thought I'd give it a try, and before I knew it, I started making a living with it and then it was too late. In fact, one of my great regrets is that I didn't keep my name as it was given to me. I knew it bothered my dad.”

Martin Sheen and son Ramon Estevez combined both their real and stage names when they created the Warner Bros.-affiliated company, Estevez Sheen Productions. The company’s latest film is The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez. Emilio stars in the film as Martin’s on-screen son, who is killed in a storm while hiking the Camino de Santiago (Emilio’s sister, Renée, also has a part in the film). Driven by sadness, Martin’s character, an American doctor, leaves his California bubble life and embarks on the 800-km pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela himself, with his son’s ashes. It’s set to be released in theaters this Easter.

During his days at Santa Monica High School, Charlie Sheen made amateur films with his older brother Emilio and school friends (including Rob Lowe and Sean Penn), and used his birth name. But ever since his first role at age nine in his father’s 1974 film The Execution of Private Slovik, Charlie Sheen has gone by his stage name.

Latinos in Hollywood have been known to change their names—such as Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Cansino, and Raquel Welch, nee Jo Raquel Tejada. Historically, they’ve done so because their names are considered unattractive, they’re too often pronounced incorrectly, or they believe their real name may affect potential job opportunities.

While Charlie Sheen followed in his father’s footsteps and took on a stage name, Emilio opted not to. He reportedly liked the double ‘E’ initials. In a recent New York Times article discussing his Casa Dumetz vineyard in California, Emilio, an avid gardener, was quoted as saying, “My grandfather, who was from Galicia, Spain, grew up tending a vineyard and growing potatoes and raising chickens and all of these things that are coming naturally to me now,” he said. “I was drawn to it in an unconscious way.”

Unlike Emilio, Charlie may go by his stage name, but he has yet to legally change it. According to Debbie Kendrick from Pitkin County Jail, when Charlie Sheen was arrested for domestic violence charges in Dec. 2009, he was booked under Carlos Estevez, and carried his California ID, which has his birth name.