It seems like multi-talented singer, dancer, actor and reality TV star Ricky Martin has always been a star, and that’s almost true—he’s been performing in front of audiences since he was five-years-old. Check out these five things you may or may not know about Ricky Martin, who goes by “Kiki” at home. (Did you know that?!)
5 facts about Ricky Martin
Boy Wonder: Ricky Martin landed his first acting gig on a television commercial, at the tender age of six. He auditioned three times for Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, before landing a spot with the group when he was 12. Menudo enjoyed worldwide popularity, and Martin toured the globe with the band, singing in several different languages. Martin has shared that while he was thankful for the experience of performing with Menudo and the chance to tour the world, he felt that his years in the band “robbed him of his childhood.”
From Telenovelato soap star: Years before he swiveled his hips into the hearts of U.S. audiences, Ricky Martin was an emerging heartthrob on Spanish language TV. He first appeared in the telenovela “Alcanzar una Estrella” for two seasons, and parlayed that into a movie role based on his character—you guessed it—a singer in a band. In 1994, Martin made the jump to Los Angeles, where he appeared in the sitcom “Getting By”. Though the program was canceled after two seasons, Martin got the attention of “General Hospital” producers, and took on the recurring role of bartender/singer Miguel Morez, and attracted legions of female fans in the U.S.
Breaking barriers: Ricky Martin is widely credited with introducing U.S. audiences to Latin pop. His 1998 Spanish language album, “Vuelve“, garnered the hit single “La Copa de la Vida”. The album went platinum and was Martin’s first to crack the Billboard Top 40. His sizzling performance of “La Copa de la Vida” at the 1999 Grammy Awards, where “Vuelve” won Best Latin Pop Album, served as an unforgettable introduction to U.S. audiences and served as a springboard for other Latin pop artists to gain popularity among mainstream listeners. Later in 1999, Martin released his first English-language album, simply titled “Ricky Martin”. It’s first single, the smash hit “Livin’ la Vida Loca”, established Martin as a superstar and opened doors for other Latin recording artists such as Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias.
“A fortunate homosexual man” and activist: After decades of media speculation about his sexuality, and interviews during which Ricky Martin dodged the question, in 2010, he posted on his official website: “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.” Martin has since shared that for years, as both a Latin man and a celebrity, he lived in fear of coming out, but that the decision was completely liberating. He is now a U.N. activist for marriage equality and AIDS treatment and prevention. His long-standing charity, the Ricky Martin Foundation, advocates for a range of children’s issues, including the fight to end human trafficking. He’s also been involved in fundraising and relief efforts in hurricane stricken New Orleans and Haiti, and after the 2004 tsunami in Southwest Asia.
Proud dad: Two years prior to his coming out, Ricky Martin announced in 2008 that he had become a father to twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, who were born via surrogate. Their birth, and the absence of a known romantic relationship added fuel to gay rumors. Martin has said that his coming out was inspired by his boys, as he didn’t want to live a lie in front of them. The twins, now four, are being raised in New York City by Martin and his long-time partner, Carlos Gonzalez Abella. Despite speaking openly about his sexuality and how his children have changed his life, Martin keeps a pretty tight lid on his private life. The twins are seldom photographed in public and their appearances on magazine covers with their dad are infrequent and always tightly controlled by Papi.