Billy Baldwin was born on February 21, 1963, in Massapequa, New York. The fourth of six children, his brothers Alec, Daniel and Stephen all became actors. His first role was as killer Robert Chambers in the 1989 made-for-TV movie The Preppie Murder. He then landed a part in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July. Baldwin's greatest screen success was playing a firefighter in the hit film Backdraft. He married pop singer Chynna Phillips in 1995 and; the couple have three children.
Actor. Born February 21, 1963, in Massapequa, New York, to homemaker Carol and high school history teacher Alexander Rae Baldwin. William Baldwin was the fourth of six children. His brothers Alec, Daniel and Stephen all became actors. His sisters Beth, a homemaker, and Jane, a physical therapist, have said they have no desire to enter show business.
Growing up in the large, rowdy Irish-Catholic Baldwin clan, "Billy was Switzerland. He was Jimmy Carter," his brother Alec later recalled. "The others could be going at it pretty bad, but Billy was always the peacemaker." The Baldwin siblings all attended the public Berner High School in Massapequa. Billy Baldwin then graduated from Binghamton University, where he majored in political science and was a standout on the school's wrestling team. After college, Baldwin interned on Capitol Hill as an assistant to Democratic Congressman Tom Downey.
Baldwin and his brother Daniel both decided to get into acting after seeing how easily their brothers Alec and Stephen made it in Hollywood. Baldwin moved to New York City and began modeling, before landing his first role as killer Robert Chambers in the 1989 made-for-TV movie The Preppie Murder. After his well-received performance, Baldwin got a part in the Oliver Stone film Born on the Fourth of July, and went on to star in later movies such as Flatliners, Three of Hearts and Sliver. In 1991, he found his greatest success starring in the hit film Backdraft, as a firefighter haunted by his father's death. Baldwin had also been cast as a heartbreaker con man in the movie Thelma and Louise at the same time, but had to pull out when the filming conflicted with Backdraft. The part went instead to Brad Pitt, which launched the actor's career.
In his single days, Baldwin dated Madonna and actress Jennifer Grey. In 1991, he met Chynna Phillips, a former member of the pop group Wilson Phillips and the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas. The couple married in 1995 and had three children: daughter Jamison in 2000, son Lance Alexander in 2001, and daughter Brooke in 2004. While his wife took time off from her music career to raise their children, Baldwin continued to act, produce and write for the screen. In 2007, he moved his family from New York to Los Angeles to star in Dirty Sexy Money, a television series about a wealthy political family. The show lasted two seasons and was canceled after the 2008 writers' strike. In 2010, Baldwin guest-starred on the hit series Gossip Girl as the estranged father of lead character Serena van der Woodsen.
In 2010, after checking into treatment for anxiety problems, Baldwin's wife Chynna Phillips briefly filed for divorce before immediately withdrawing the papers. Other than that, William Baldwin's personal life has been considerably tamer than those of his brothers, who have grappled with high-profile divorces (Alec) and drug addictions (Daniel and Stephen). Baldwin jokingly calls himself the "white sheep" of the family. He lives in New York with his wife and children and works with several charities, including the Creative Coalition and the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, which he and his brothers started in honor of their mother, a cancer survivor. When he feels overwhelmed, he told one interviewer, "I try to take a deep breath and just remember how lucky I am."
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