For the first time, David Hasselhoff, the tube's top lifeguard, has publicly admitted that he was drowning in booze.

"I once thought about writing a book called The Minibar and Me," Hasselhoff says in the latest issue of TV Guide. "[I'd be] social drinking, having fun--and damn, I'd just have a blackout."

The Baywatcher and onetime Knight Rider tells the magazine that he was "spinning out of control" over the summer. He also confirmed a National Enquirer report that said he nearly died from alcohol poisoning after a binge.

Hasselhoff says he checked into the Betty Ford Center for rehab in June, only to skip out after a day of treatment to get soused by himself.

Hasselhoff describes how he checked into the Desert Springs Marriott Hotel and Spa in nearby Palm Desert sans luggage, dressed only in T-shirt and shorts, and proceeded to empty out the minibar in his room, downing bottles of cognac, rum, beer and wine.

Hotel workers discovered him unconscious on the floor the next day, and he was rushed to the emergency room of Eisenhower Medical Center, where he was revived and treated for alcohol poisoning. The drinking binge and subsequent near-death experience, he says, opened his eyes.

"I woke up going, 'This is rock bottom.'"

The 50-year-old thespian later returned to Betty Ford to complete his rehab and has since learned to live on the dry side.

Hasselhoff has also returned to work, most notably reprising his role as head lifesaver Mitch Buchannon for Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding, a two-hour TV movie for Fox that will reunite Hasselhoff with other Baywatch hardbodies, including Pamela Anderson.

While filming on location in Oahu, Hasselhoff says he's been attending regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Of course, there's nothing like soaking tropical climes to get back on track.

"I wake up most mornings and smell the coffee and feel the breeze and say 'Wow!'" he added.

Besides Baywatch, Hasselhoff starred in a Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde last year and has been working to rev up Knight Rider for a potential big-screen franchise that he hopes to executive produce and possibly star in.

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