Pamela Anderson had the biggest assets on “Baywatch,” but she didn’t reap the rewards.
Turns out, the blond bombshell pulled down a measly $1,500 per episode during the first season. By the end of her five-season run, she was making $300,000 an episode — still peanuts compared to co-star David Hasselhoff, a producer on the beachy drama with an ownership stake that paid off big when the series was added to Amazon’s Prime Video library in 2019.
“The producers of ‘Baywatch’ made a fortune,” the 55-year-old told Variety in a new cover story interview. “I just didn’t have the representation back then. Or the know-how.”
Anderson was so integral to the show’s success, she revealed, that there were “Pamela clauses” in some of the licensing and syndication deals for the ‘90s smash hit, in which she played the lifeguard C.J. Parker for five seasons, starting in 1992 and ending in 1997. Many of the international broadcasters only wanted to buy “Baywatch” episodes featuring Anderson, while a Barbie doll based on her iconic character ended up a bestseller. She didn’t see a penny, she claims.
“You don’t realize when you’re doing a TV show that it’s going to be that popular, so you kind of sign your life away,” she said.
The former Playboy model has been speaking out about her life, leading up to the dual Jan. 31 releases of her memoir “Love, Pamela,” and a Netflix documentary, “Pamela, A Love Story.”
“She was definitely being taken advantage of,” Anderson’s eldest son, Brandon Lee, 26, told Variety. “It still feels weird, how there hasn’t been some sort of discussion with Amazon, or the ‘Baywatch’ producers to get her her fair share. It’s funny how it works with Dave Chappelle with Netflix; he can somehow go back and get paid for a show that he didn’t own anything of. And with the Amazon library deal, we didn’t get a penny.”
Anderson retreated from the spotlight for a while in the late 1990s and early aughts, in part due to her infamous sex tape scandal in 1998 with her then-husband, rocker Tommy Lee (a saga that was fictionalized in the Golden Globe nominated Hulu series, “Pam & Tommy,” much to Anderson’s dismay).
But, she revealed another reason why she kept a low profile.
After her split from Lee in 1998, she was living in Malibu with their two toddler sons, Dylan and Brandon when she found a teenaged French girl squatting in her home. The girl was wearing Anderson’s famous red “Baywatch” bathing suit and clutching a letter that read, “I’m not a lesbian, but I dream of you.” The girl slit her wrists, but survived and was subsequently deported.
“The police said, ‘Well, you really weren’t in that much danger because she was a girl,’ ” Anderson said. “I was like, ‘How does that make it less dangerous? Women can still murder people.’ ”
Anderson also recalled walking in on Jack Nicholson having a threesome in the Playboy Mansion one night.
“Trying not to look, but I couldn’t help myself and caught his eye in the reflection,” she writes in her memoir. “I guess that got him to the finish line, because he made a funny noise, smiled and said, ‘Thanks, dear.’ ”
Anderson also shared that her unlikely friendship with jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange got “frisky” one night.
“It was romantic because it was so inspirational,” she said. “He’s so passionate about life and about everything. There’s just nothing that he says that isn’t fascinating. So there was definitely a connection. We would just talk through the night and drink mezcal and laugh and tell stories.”
Referring to all of the harrowing incidents in her life, Anderson said, “I’m not a victim, and I’m not the damsel in distress. I’ve made my choices in my life … it’s created a strong person and a strong parent.”
There’s a mantra, she said, that she repeats to herself during hard times: “Hold your head high. Walk out the door. I know everybody’s seen me having sex, but I’m just here to get some cereal for my kids. Just keep on going.”