"People see me as a dumb blonde," says Pamela Anderson. "It's a definite advantage, because then I have nothing to live up to!" The original Baywatch beauty omits to mention that she wouldn't be able to play the characters she does without getting the joke. But then the executive producer and star of her own TV show has made a career out of her image and laughed all the way to the bank.
Born on July 1, 1967, in British Columbia, Canada, to Barry, a furnace repair man and waitress Carol, Pamela made headlines right from the start by being the first baby of Canada's centennial year. She grew up naturally sporty, with her athleticism earning her the nickname "Rubber band" at school.
When she was 22, the future Playboy
pin-up moved to Vancouver to broaden her horizons. And it was there, at a Canadian Football League game, that she was caught on the stadium's big screen by a cameraman during a break in play. The crowd erupted at the sight of Pamela wearing a tight t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of Labatt's beer. Noting her assets, the Canadian brewery was quick to make her its spokesmodel.
The ambitious British Columbia native then moved to LA, where she posed for Playboy,
later becoming the magazine's most popular playmate, gracing more front covers than any other. This led to a series of minor TV roles, and in 1991 Pamela landed a part on the Emmy-award winning US sitcom Home Improvement.
She left the show to star as CJ in Baywatch
alongside David Hasselhoff in 1992. And, as the series grew, so did her profile. The syndicated show, with Pam in that famous red bathing suit, made her a household name. She has since focused on animal welfare issues and has starred in a series of PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) ads.
Despite her liaisons with stars such as Dean Cain, Sylvester Stallone and Scott Baio, it was Pamela's volatile marriage to rocker Tommy Lee that made the biggest headlines. In 1995, after a four-day romance, the couple were married on a Mexican beach in their swimsuits. In the same year, a private video of the couple was stolen and distributed on the internet. They later issued an authorised version of the tape, which became the highest selling pornographic video of all time.
In 1996, the then 29-year-old hit a low point personally and professionally. Her major foray into film, the action comedy Barb Wire,
did less well than expected amid reports of a suicide attempt and miscarriage. The birth of her first son Brandon in the same year proved a revitalising force, however, and with the arrival of second son Dylan in 1997 the Lees' wild lifestyle seemed to have come to an end.
Sadly, the family unit Pamela had so hoped for unravelled in 1998. The couple had come close to parting just before their second anniversary, and in 1998 Pamela filed for divorce. They were briefly reunited in 1999, and although for while Pamela dated model Marcus Schenkenberg, in 2001 she was still proclaiming: "I've never really stopped loving Tommy."
The following year, however, it seemed she'd moved on as she embarked on an on-off relationship with Kid Rock. Then in July 2006 the curvaceous beauty announced she planned on taking a second chance on love. "I'm finally getting remarried," she declared, before tying the knot in three separate wedding ceremonies. Just four months later the couple, citing irreconcilable differences, announced they were to divorce.
Pamela went on to find romance again with long-term friend Rick Salomon, whom she wed on October 6, 2007. However, in December of the same year she filed for divorce, again citing irreconcilable differences. She sought to annul their brief union in February the next year, giving "fraud" as the reason.