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Martin, Ricky (b. 1971)  
 
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Singer Ricky Martin has had an extremely successful career. He has sold over fifty million albums and won numerous awards. His good looks and his energetic and sensuous stage performances have made him a favorite of young female fans and also earned him a considerable gay male following. Speculation that Martin himself might be gay was rife for years, but he consistently avoided answering questions on the topic until 2010, when he came out publicly via a Twitter announcement.

Born Enrique José Martín Morales on December 24, 1971 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he is the son of Enrique Martín and Nereida Morales.

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His parents divorced when he was two years old, after which he lived primarily with his mother and two older stepbrothers from her previous marriage, but he also maintained a strong relationship with his father during his youth, and he claims that he had a happy childhood.

If Martin's childhood was happy, it was also busy. By the age of six, the winsome boy had begun appearing in television commercials, and at twelve he joined the boy band Menudo. In the case of this group, the word boy is to be taken literally; as members reached their late teens, they were replaced by younger singers, so even as the years passed the members of the band remained boys.

Martin quickly developed a stage presence that engaged fans, especially adolescent girls, who packed concert venues as Menudo toured all over the world. Eventually Martin tired of the grind of the travel schedule, and so he left Menudo in 1989 after five years with the band.

His frequent absences from Puerto Rico and the difficulty of dividing his time at home between his parents put a strain on his relationship with his father. The two were estranged for many years but achieved a reconciliation in the mid 1990s.

After the frenzied existence of globe-trotting and performing before huge crowds of shrieking fans, Martin spent a year in New York City, enjoying a respite out of the spotlight as he contemplated his future.

Martin next moved to Mexico City, where he worked in musical theater and appeared on a soap opera. He also signed his first recording contract as a solo artist.

His Spanish-language début album, Ricky Martin (1991), was an enormous success in Latin America, as was his second, Me Amarás (1993). Martin resumed touring, this time as a headliner in his own right.

While Martin was recording his third album, A Medio Vivir (1995), in Los Angeles, his concert work caught the attention of the producers of the popular American soap opera General Hospital, who were eager to have him join the cast. Martin appeared as singing barman Miguel Morez in the 1994-95 season of the show.

Martin did a star turn on Broadway in a revival of Les Misérables (book by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubil, music by Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) in 1996, and the following year he voiced the title character in the Latin-American version of Ron Clements and John Musker's animated Disney film Hercules.

Martin's single "La Copa de la Vida" was chosen by the World Cup Federation as the official song of the prestigious soccer tournament in 1998. Since the album on which it was included, Vuelve (1998), was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Album, he was invited to sing it at the award ceremonies in February 1999.

Martin's sizzling performance stopped the show. He came away from the evening with a Grammy Award, sudden new legions of women and gay men as fans, and a reputation as an "overnight success" even though he had been in the business for fifteen years.

Martin responded to his newfound celebrity in the United States by putting out his first English-language album, which was, like his début album, entitled simply Ricky Martin (1999) and includes the phenomenally successful song "Livin' La Vida Loca." The album proved to be one of the most popular of the year, and sales of it have exceeded twenty million copies.

Martin had been linked romantically with a series of beautiful women, including the former Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe Alicia Machado, Mexican singer and actress Sasha Sökol, Venezuelan rock singer Alejandra Guzmán, Brazilian actress Adriana Biega, and Mexican television host Rebecca de Alba.

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Ricky Martin at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City in 2007.
  
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