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Stephen Baldwin Biography

Home > Actors > B > Baldwin, Stephen > Biography

Birth Name: Stephen Baldwin
Born: 05/12/1966
Birth Place: Massapequa, New York, USA

Born Stephen Andrew Baldwin on May 12, 1966 in Massapequa, NY, he was the youngest of six children - including future stars Daniel, Alec and Billy - of Carol and Alexander Rae Baldwin, Jr. While attending Massapequa's Berner High School, he excelled as a vocalist, becoming a three-time, all-state soloist and winning a state award for a cappella singing by the time he graduated. Tragedy befell the Baldwin household when his father - a high school teacher and football coach - succumbed to lung cancer in 1983. Baldwin went on to attend New York's esteemed American Academy of Dramatic Arts for one year, but was not asked to return for a second. He made ends meet for a time working at a Manhattan pizza parlor in addition to doing some modeling for Calvin Klein, eventually landing small guests spots on several television series. He reprised the role of "Gutter Pup" in two "American Playhouse" productions, "The Prodigious Hickey" (PBS, 1987) and "The Return of Hickey" (PBS, 1988), a pair of comedies about an incorrigible prankster in a turn-of-the-century boys prep school. That same year Baldwin picked up a minor role in the Mickey Rourke boxing drama "Homeboy" (1988), followed by brief appearances in the more highly regarded films "Last Exit to Brooklyn" (1989) and "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989).

Baldwin earned a degree of recognition on television playing the young William "Buffalo Bill" Cody on the historical saga of the Pony Express, "The Young Riders" (ABC, 1989-92), alongside a cast of fresh-faced twenty-something actors, including Josh Brolin. Modest success on the small screen soon led to more substantial film roles, generally cast as a goofy, irresponsible character in films like "Posse" (1993), actor-director Mario Van Peebles' revisionist Western, featuring a cast - with the exception of Baldwin - culled largely from the ranks of 1990s-era hip-hop acts. In "8 Seconds" (1994), he played Luke Perry's best friend and stiffest competition on the rodeo circuit, followed by a turn as a hard-partying college student in the sex comedy "Threesome" (1994), cast in between Lara Flynn Boyle and Josh Charles. Baldwin's stature received a substantial boost when he won the role of hot-tempered thief Michael McManus in director Bryan Singer's byzantine crime thriller "The Usual Suspects" (1995). To the surprise of many, the young actor held his own amidst an ensemble cast of Hollywood heavyweights, featuring the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey and Benicio Del Toro. However, whatever newfound industry respect Baldwin may have earned with the latter film was quickly lost with the release of the slack-jawed Pauly Shore comedy "Bio-Dome" (1996).

Baldwin's next picture, "Fled" (1996), an action-adventure co-starring Laurence Fishburne, may have been the hoped for course-correcting project, however, it too failed to attract much interest at the box office. Nonetheless, he was still capable of picking up leading roles. In the two-part TV miniseries "Dean Koontz's 'Mr. Murder'" (ABC, 1998) he played a successful writer whose family is targeted by an evil doppelganger. That same year he portrayed real-life NYPD detective Bo Dietl in the gritty biopic "One Tough Cop" (1998), adapted from the maverick policeman's memoir. Next, Baldwin played the love-starved member of a group of pals on a ski vacation in "Friends & Lovers" (1999), a romantic comedy featuring an ensemble cast that included Robert Downey, Jr. It began to appear as if he were choosing his roles by throwing a dart at a pile of scripts when Baldwin next appeared in the sequel to the classic cartoon adaptation "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" (2000), appearing as Barney Rubble. With scant opportunities for quality projects and relegated mostly to direct-to-video fare, Baldwin made his first foray into what would become a second career phase for the floundering actor - the realm of reality television. As a contestant on "Celebrity Mole Hawaii" (ABC, 2002-03) - the first celebrity version of the original show - Baldwin was out by the second episode, only to be invited back for the following season's "Celebrity Mole Yucatan" (ABC, 2003-04), in which he managed to last until episode three.

In 2006, Baldwin released his biography The Unusual Suspect detailing his life, career, and how he became a born-again Christian following the attacks of 9/11. That same year, he formed his first ministry, The Breakthrough Ministry, utilizing extreme sports and Christian rock bands in arena tours to reach the youth demographic. Meanwhile, reality TV continued to provide income, albeit at a price. Baldwin went to the rodeo as a contestant on "Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge" (CMT, 2007), only to be forced to leave the show by the second episode after he sustained a serious injury. He continued with a steady mix of made-for-TV B-movies and reality shows, including the fantasy adventure "Stan Lee's Harpies" (SyFy, 2007), a stint with "The Donald" on "The Apprentice" (NBC, 2008-09), fighting giant man-eaters in the Grande Canals in "Sharks in Venice" (SyFy, 2008), as well as a humiliating run on "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" (NBC, 2008-09). Baldwin was forced to leave the latter show after several insect bites became infected. Adding insult to injury, he and his wife, Kennya, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, claiming to be millions of dollars in debt and behind on their home mortgage payments. Baldwin returned to the reality well as a cast member on the U.K.'s "Celebrity Big Brother" (Channel 4, 2010). Crossing the Atlantic did not improve his performance, however, when he became the fourth person evicted from the house. In an interesting turn of events, shortly after Baldwin's "Big Brother" eviction, a Christian website began soliciting funds on his behalf, citing his Job-like perseverance in the face of "the media's assault on Stephen," all the while claiming to have no affiliation with Baldwin.