I was born in 1940 in Sacramento, the third of three sons of Walt and Cleo Baldwin. My parents opened a struggling but eventually successful commercial refrigeration ‘Sales and Service’ business.
In my early years, I and both of my brothers took piano and violin lessons. My next older brother, Dave and I took acrobatic, tap dance and gymnastics lessons, as well. So, we were somewhat prepared for the entertainment profession.
I married Jeanne Wetterau in 1961, and we have two children, Eric and Megan, and two grandchildren, Miliana and Markus. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in September, 2011.
My first JayRob experience occurred in 1957, midway into the run of the opening play of the second season, “Anniversary Waltz,” starring Jean and Mercer Runyon. It also included my brother Dave in the role of the couple’s son. Dave and I were avid gymnasts, and in one stint on the trampoline, he landed in an awkward position and broke his nose. Unable to play his role that week, director Bob Wyman (at that time, my high school drama class teacher) called me in to learn his lines and take his place. I received a thank you note and a $4 check from Justus Wyman for my efforts. I was elated; I was now a professional actor!
My previous theatre experience had included unpaid roles at the Eaglet Theatre, in “My Sister Eileen” and as the lead in the West Coast Premiere of Jon Elkus’ musical “Tom Sawyer,” also featuring now world-renowned Sacramento artist Jerald Silva as Huckleberry Finn. My brother, Dave, was in that production, as well.
After that initial JayRob experience, I continued with the company for much of its existence, working on the staff and playing a dancing and singing role in “The Boy Friend” and performing numerous lesser roles throughout the seasons. I also played the Prince in the first JayRob children’s theatre production, “Prince and the Crow,” with Nancy Hickey and directed by Jean Runyon.
My brother Dave and I paid our way through college, entertaining while in high school and college as an ‘a cappella’ singing and comedy act billed as “The Baldwin Brothers.” That act took us to East Nicolaus, California to entertain its major flood victims in the mid-fifties, and later to various military hospitals and to numerous clubs and theaters throughout Northern California.
During the Viet Nam war era, I took a hiatus from JayRob and college to join the Air National Guard and train at the Keesler Technical Training Center in Biloxi, Mississippi to become a ‘Ground Communications Equipment Repairman’. After my initial training, I returned to civilian life and finished my 6-year ‘weekend warrior’ service obligation, retiring as a Staff Sergeant at the local Air National Guard base.
I eventually completed my college education and went into teaching, first at Kennedy High School in Sacramento, teaching Speech and English and coaching the forensics team. Then, after receiving my Masters at Sac State while working as the assistant debate coach, I went to Fresno City College for one year, teaching speech and English. Finally, I spent the last 30+ years of my career at Cosumnes River College (where Bob Wyman was then an administrator), teaching speech and radio production.
The latter three years at CRC, I produced, directed and/or performed in a dozen on-stage live radio productions of Norman Corwin’s 1940s era radio shows and in annual Halloween re-creations of H. G. Welles’ 1938 halloween classic, “War of the Worlds.”
Since leaving JayRob, my other theatre experiences included the role of the barber in “Man of La Mancha,” and as one of three SARTA judges reviewing musicals for the Elly Awards. My son, Eric, has carried on the Baldwin theatrical tradition locally, nationally and internationally.
After retiring as a college professor, I spent four years (two as a bicycle coach) with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Bicycle ‘Team in Training,’ raising funds for cancer research and treatment by riding on sponsored ‘Century Rides’ of 100 miles.
I’m currently in the process of researching and writing a history of the JayRob Theatre of Sacramento with Phil Bettens (stage manager during JayRob’s 17-year span) and Diana (Lions) Wyman (actress and its publicity director and graphic artist, and the widow of the director, Robert Wyman).
My other activities include racquetball, traveling (Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, China, Egypt, Greece, the Baltic countries, Russia, and Scandinavia), and translating my 2nd great grandfather’s book from Old Swedish to modern English.
It’s been a fascinating life for me, and Robert Wyman and the JayRob experience have played major roles in its success.