After last year’s controversial miniseries Pam & Tommy – which she didn’t endorse and says she will never watch – Pamela Anderson is reclaiming her own narrative in the Netflix doc Pamela, A Love Story. Directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Ryan White, it offers a warm and revealing portrait of a tough, fundamentally hopeful woman who is much more complex than the sunny Baywatch pin-up we thought we knew in the 1990s. Nothing is off the table – especially her tempestuous and abusive marriage to Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee – but here are seven of the main revelations.
Her childhood was marred by sexual abuse
When she was a child, an unnamed female babysitter inflicted “three or four years of hell” on Anderson, who grew up on a sleepy island off the Canadian mainland. Her parents never knew, and Anderson tried to protect her younger brother from the predator.
“I tried to kill her and tried to stab in the heart with a candy cane pen and then I told her I wanted her to die and then she died in a car accident the next day,” Anderson recalls in the doc. “So I thought I killed her with my magical mind and I couldn’t tell anybody. And I was sure that I did it, that I wished her dead and she died.”
Then, at 12, Anderson was raped by a 25-year-old man whom she also doesn’t name. “I had so much shame about what happened,” she says. “I felt like it was my fault. My mom was always crying about my dad, and I couldn’t bear to hurt her more. I didn’t tell her or anyone.’
She discovered an early boyfriend’s infidelity in the most brutal way
After graduating from high school, Anderson moved to Vancouver and began a relationship with an unnamed man. However, as she recorded in her diary at the time, she realised it was doomed when she caught him in a rather compromising position. “I wrote down, ‘washing penis in the sink – suspicious,'” Anderson says in the doc. “Looking back it’s funny, but in the moment you’re horrified.” It’s one of many moments where her resilience and sense of humour really shines through.
Sylvester Stallone asked her to be his mistress
After she became a Playboy cover star in the early ‘90s, Anderson attracted the attention of many famous men including the Rocky actor. “He offered me a condo and a Porsche to be his number one girl,” she says in the doc. “And I was like, ‘Does that mean there’s a number two? Uh-uh.'” This apparently drew a rather dismissive response from Stallone, who told her: “That’s the best offer you’re gonna get, honey. You’re in Hollywood now.”
Stallone has since denied this incident took place through his reps, who said: “The statement from Pamela Anderson attributed to my client is false and fabricated. Mr. Stallone confirms that he never made any portion of that statement.”
Her marriage to Tommy Lee really was a whirlwind
They married on the beach in Cancún, Mexico in 1995 after knowing each other for just four days. In the doc, Anderson admits she had to ask him what his surname was on the flight home, because she had presumed Lee was a middle name.
She was deeply traumatised by the theft of their sex tape
“The tape” – as Anderson prefers to call it – was stolen from the couple’s Malibu home in 1995 and became one of the internet’s first viral moments. At first, Anderson and Lee tried to sue the distributors, but after she was humiliated during a lengthy deposition filled with sneering sexism, they settled out of court.
In the doc, Anderson says she “never made a dime” from the tape and believes it ended any chance of her building a “serious” acting career. In one particularly powerful moment, she compares this massive invasion of privacy to the rape she suffered as a 12-year-old. “Not to bring up something heavy from my childhood, but when I was attacked by this guy, I thought everybody would know,” she says. “When the tape was stolen, it felt like that.”
She really wasn’t fussed about joining Baywatch
Anderson became a global superstar when she portrayed lifeguard C.J. Parker in the ‘90s series known for its shameless slow-mos of beautiful people running on the beach. It was her first significant acting role, and one tailored to her own breezy, beach-loving personality, but Anderson was so ambivalent that she cancelled her audition 11 times. Thankfully, the show’s casting directors convinced her she was the right fit and waited for her to come around.
She believes Tommy Lee was her one true love
Anderson has been single since the breakdown of her fifth marriage, to her bodyguard Dan Hayhurst, in early 2021. In the doc, she admits that none of her other husbands – Kid Rock, poker player Rick Salomon and movie producer Jon Peters – could hold a candle to Lee, either.
“I really loved your dad for all the right reasons and I really don’t think I’ve loved anybody else. It’s fucked,” Anderson tells their elder son Brandon. “I think I’d rather be alone than not be with the father of my kids. I think it’s impossible to be with anybody else, but I don’t think I could be with Tommy either. It’s almost like a punishment.”