Ricky Martin

Also Credited As:

Enrique Martin Morales
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Biography

While most of mainstream America may have been tangentially aware of him before his star-making performance on the 1999 Grammy Awards telecast, Ricky Martin was already well-known to a large part of the world as a member of the youthful singing group, Menudo, and later as Latin lover Miguel Morez on "General Hospital" (ABC, 1962- ). The Puerto Rican-born singer and actor was actually a showbiz veteran with some two decades of work to his …
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Job Title

Actor, Music

Born

Enrique Martin Morales on December 24, 1971 in Puerto Rico

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While most of mainstream America may have been tangentially aware of him before his star-making performance on the 1999 Grammy Awards telecast, Ricky Martin was already well-known to a large part of the world as a member of the youthful singing group, Menudo, and later as Latin lover Miguel Morez on "General Hospital" (ABC, 1962- ). The Puerto Rican-born singer and actor was actually a showbiz veteran with some two decades of work to his credit before hitting the big time with the hits "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "La Copa de la Vida" ("Cup of Life") made him an international music superstar and the point-man for ushering in a late-1990s Latin revolution in both music and other media.

Born Dec. 24, 1971, Martin began his career at age six by appearing in locally-produced TV commercials. After two unsuccessful tries - he was deemed too small physically and too baby-faced at first - he landed a gig with the local singing group, Menudo, in 1983. Over his father's objections, Martin joined the fabled boy band, which he later characterized as suffering through "five years of discipline . . . it was like the military." Martin and the other four boys toured the world, singing in several languages and became something of a sensation in the States. However, once he hit the group's stated retirement age of 18, Martin retreated briefly to Puerto Rico before spending six months of unemployment in New York City. An offer to appear in a stage musical in Mexico broke the drought and led to Martin's casting on the Spanish-language telenovela, "Alcanzar una Estrella II" ("To Reach a Star") on which he portrayed a singer-musician. His character proved so popular that the fictional band from the show toured Mexico and was spun off into a feature based on the serial.

By this point, Martin had begun a successful solo singing career, releasing his first eponymous, self-titled solo album in 1988. Deciding to try his luck in Hollywood, the extremely handsome 6'2" singer-actor landed a recurring role on the short-lived NBC sitcom, "Getting By." He segued to American soap operas with a role as an orderly-turned-singing bartender on the popular soap opera, "General Hospital" from 1993 to 1994, sporting a longer hairstyle that most fans were used to seeing and doing his best to woo resident vixen Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil). While he proved a charismatic presence onscreen, his character was never fully integrated into the serial's storylines, although he was allowed to occasionally display his vocal abilities.

After checking out of "General Hospital," Martin fulfilled another dream by co-starring on Broadway in the musical "Les Miserables," playing the juvenile lead of Marius. All along, he was intent on pursuing a serious music career as well, releasing albums and making concert appearances in his quest to hit international heights. Recognizing his standing in the Hispanic community, Disney tapped him to sing the Spanish-language version of the theme to the animated feature, "Hercules" (1997) and then hired Martin to perform the title character's vocals as well.

In 1998, Martin enlivened things at the World Cup soccer games with his rendition of "La Copa de la Vida" ("The Cup of Life") off his latest LP, Vuelve, but it was several months later during the infamous 1999 Grammy telecast when he truly stole the show with a pelvis-thrusting, hip-swiveling performance of the same song that knocked the wind of the place. Even Madonna seemed smitten, as she and other veteran music stars clamored to congratulate the scene-stealer. After that career-defining performance, no one could escape Martin-mania even if they wanted to. His English-language debut album - also called Ricky Martin - debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1999 and contained the infectious follow-up number, "Livin' La Vida Loca" which became a staple on MTV, radio and everywhere else in between. Martin appeared on virtually every conceivable TV show and was featured in numerous magazines - including gracing the covers of TIME and TV Guide. So epic was his rise, he paved the way for other successful Latin artists, including Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to chart a variety of singles and/or forge a path in film or on television.

It was clear that Hollywood would soon be beckoning again, but just as quickly as Martin rose to international fame, he came crashing down within little over a year, due in large part to oversaturation and young, fickle fans. Concentrating on his music, Martin continued to release albums in his native language and to make the occasional talk show appearance to promote either his music or his pet causes, including most importantly, the crime of child trafficking overseas. Martin continued to be a point of interest in the gossip blogosphere, when rumors of whether or not he was gay would surface from time to time. Martin refused to comment. In August 2008, Martin made headlines that year for confirming that he was the father of twin sons via a gestational surrogate mother. Only two years later, Martin took to his blog in March 2010 and finally addressed the one issue that had continuously dogged him for years; that he was, indeed, a homosexual man, and it was by having his two sons, he realized he wanted and needed to be honest with the public.

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