By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 09, 2002 01:00 AM

Former “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff, who turns 50 next week, has checked himself into Southern California’s Betty Ford Center for treatment of alcoholism, according to his publicist. A statement was issued Monday on behalf of the actor that said “he realized his social drinking had increased more than he was comfortable with, and he decided to do something about it.” His rep, Richard Hoffman, told the Associated Press that Hasselhoff voluntarily entered the clinic on June 26; Hoffman did not know how long the actor would remain there. Hasselhoff recently delivered a cameo performance as himself in the summer comedy “The New Guy.” Last year he performed on Broadway in the musical “Jekyll & Hyde.” Among those celebrities who, throughout the years, have been treated at the clinic founded by the former First Lady (who has admitted to her own problems with alcohol) have been Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor (the latter met her last husband, fellow patient Larry Fortensky, while at the clinic). According to its Web site, “The Betty Ford Center is a nonprofit private treatment center that serves people from all walks of life. Contrary to popular belief, less than . . . 1 percent of all patients might be described as wealthy or well known.”