`I was like Monty Clift in ``A Place in the Sun.'' I was from the other side of the tracks.'
His mother, Carol Baldwin, has predicted that her eldest son would someday occupy the White House. And recently the famous actor appears to have put himself on just such a course -- although in an uncharacteristically modest mode, he's mentioned only U.S. senator or governor. He's got the high profile, the beautiful wife -- the actress Kim Basinger -- and the cute kid, 21/2-year-old Ireland Eliesse. For the record, he's a Democrat registered to vote in the East End, although he also has homes in Manhattan and on the West Coast.
And it all began at Massapequa's Alfred G. Berner High School, where Alexander Rae Baldwin III was elected president of his senior class of 1976 -- to date, his only elective office.
His mother (through his personal publicist, Alec Baldwin declined to be interviewed for this story) calls the second-born of her six children ``the Golden Boy'' and said that while ``Zander'' -- the family's nickname for Alec -- went to college (George Washington University in Washington, D.C.) intending to get a degree in political science, he'd always shown a penchant for performing, as well as a strong streak of self-assurance.
``From the time they were very little all the boys liked to mimic people ... at dinner they'd do these accents. They were so-o-o funny,'' Carol Baldwin (who now lives near Syracuse, N.Y.) said about her four sons who grew up to be film stars. Alec's has been the most successful career, but his brothers' credits are also impressive: Daniel, the TV series ``Homicide'' and ``Sydney''; William, movies including ``Backdraft'' and ``Flatliners''; and Stephen, films including ``Last Exit to Brooklyn'' and the TV series ``The Young Riders.'' The three younger brothers all had small parts in Oliver Stone's ``Born on the Fourth of July,'' based on the book by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic -- who had been a student of their father in Massapequa.
Daniel Baldwin said that several of the brothers and their neighborhood friends made home movies, borrowing the camera their father, Alexander Jr., the high school football coach, used to film rival football teams. ``We made a series of horror films -- lots of ketchup -- and a series of Joe Cool movies that were spoofs on James Bond.'' Brother Alec, he recalled, always played the Bond/Cool character.
Even back then, Alec did a great Brando impersonation, Carol Baldwin said. ``And Stephen [the youngest] would sit in Zander's lap and play the dummy.''
The Irish-Catholic Baldwins lived in Nassau Shores, in a pleasant Cape Cod-style house next to a golf course. But his father's teacher's salary meant, Alec Baldwin has commented, ``that I felt like Monty Clift in `A Place in the Sun.' I was from the other side of the tracks.'' He helped out with odd jobs, including working as a lifeguard, busboy and laborer for a yard service.
The senior Baldwin, a loyal Democrat who taught social studies, wanted his sons to become lawyers, and mixed in with the dinner table high-jinks, Carol Baldwin said, were lively discussions about current events and civic issues. ``He insisted they be in everything: Little League, Boy Scouts.'' When Robert F. Kennedy was killed in 1968, Alexanders Jr. and III traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the funeral.
Along with his desire to impart strong social consciences in his children, the Baldwins' late father wanted his sons to be competitive, starting with sports. Carol Baldwin said the question her husband put to his sons was, ``Do you want to be Daddy's tiger or Mommy's lamb?'' Alec played lacrosse and baseball, and, said his brother William, ``he's a lot like Dad ... he definitely plays hardball.''
Said Stephen: ``The brothers are competitive on a psychotic level in sports but there isn't any real serious rivalry between us professionally. If anything, it's more of a support system.'' Just look where hang-togetherness got another large Irish-Catholic family -- the Kennedys.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.
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