Pamela Anderson’s a successful actress, an iconic model, and a passionate activist. But for all of the amazing things this multi-hyphenate has accomplished throughout her life and career, there have been just as many lows she’s had to deal with.
While gaining popularity as an actress on Baywatch and Home Improvement, Anderson really solidified her place in pop culture history when she began working alongside Hugh Hefner as a Playmate. It was a gig so successful that, to this day in 2019, she still holds the record for gracing the most Playboy covers ever with 13 to her name.
These days, Anderson is devoted to her philanthropic work and runs her own eponymous foundation — which, according to its website, “supports organizations and individuals that stand on the front lines in the protection of human, animal, and environmental rights” — and is also the proud mom of two young men. However, hardships have unfortunately have been trailing behind Anderson ever since her early years as an aspiring starlet growing up in Vancouver, Canada. This is the tragic real-life story of Pamela Anderson.
Pamela Anderson's road to success was arduous
Before she became a household name, Pamela Anderson was just an aspiring talent looking to make it big in Hollywood — and it sure wasn’t easy. In letters Anderson sent to her high school boyfriend, Tyrone, after she moved to Los Angeles, she revealed just how difficult her road to fame was. In October 1989, the actress wrote, “Please, please, please, I’m lonely, I need letters and or phone calls” (via the Daily Mail). Anderson continued, “It’s tough starting a career isn’t it. You have to put up with a lot of s**t … It just takes so damn long to make someone else believe you and then when they finally believe in you, they have their own hidden agenda.” She added, “They just want to f**k you. One way or another.”
Later in that same letter, a young Anderson revealed just how questionable her encounters were, writing, “Wish me luck tomorrow. I’m supposedly meeting some mafia dude.” She reassured, “I’ll bring my gun don’t worry. He’s an agent. Some other agent told me he was mafia –- figures!”
She says she married a 'disaster'
While it seems Pamela Anderson has unfortunately never had much luck in love, her on-again, off-again relationship with Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee — which dragged on for 15 years — was especially troubling. In February 1995, the couple said “I do” just 96 hours after going on their first date (Anderson wore a white bikini to the beach ceremony), and what ensued was one of the most eyebrow-raising, drama-filled unions in Hollywood.
In June 1996, the pair had their first child, Brandon, but filed for divorce that November, according to E! News. However, they didn’t call it quits, but instead welcomed their second son, Dylan, in December 1997. Come 1998, Anderson had filed for divorce again, this time for real, alleging a physical altercation with Lee in which she accused her then-husband of kicking her and endangering their children. Lee actually pleaded no contest to felony spousal battery and spent four months in jail, but their journey as a couple wasn’t over. The Playmate and musician continued getting back together and breaking up until 2010.
Jump to 2018 and Anderson and Lee were fighting bitterly again after he accused son Brandon of knocking him unconscious. Taking to her blog, the blonde bombshell wrote, “[Tommy’s] actions are desperate and humiliating. He is a disaster spinning out of control. And he is not acting like a father. But this is nothing new.”
Pamela Anderson worried about her kids' safety
In 2001, Anderson filed for sole custody of her and Tommy Lee’s two sons, telling a Los Angeles courtroom, as reported by the Evening Standard, “My children are not safe with Tommy Lee.” Alleging both physical and mental abuse, Anderson recounted just how much she allegedly suffered with Lee, sharing the 1998 altercation that resulted in her filing for divorce as proof of his reported explosive ways. “I was holding Dylan in my arms while breast-feeding him, when Tommy physically attacked me with complete disregard for my safety and, more importantly, for the safety of our children,” she alleged. “Tommy kicked me violently in the back several times and in the buttocks. He was completely out of control.”
Anderson then went on to accuse Lee of showing their sons graphic videos, forcing them to call her a “freak,” using obscene language around them, and more. She claimed, “Often when they come home they suffer from nightmares for days. They typically scream, cry and cling to me when they know they have to go to Tommy’s house and tell me they do not want to go.” Anderson argued, “Tommy’s behavior has deteriorated to such an extent that I am afraid for the emotional well-being of the children while in his care.”
In 2002, the exes eventually settled on an equal joint custody arrangement.
She was diagnosed with Hepatitis C
While Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee were embroiled in their bitter custody battle, the model released in a statement that she was dealing with even more hardship in her life, as she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C (via Entertainment Weekly). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis C is “a serious [liver] disease than can result in long-term health problems, even death.” There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C and, as Anderson revealed at the time, she had contracted the virus from sharing a tattoo needle with Lee — whom she claimed never once told her he was sick. “Tommy has the disease and never disclosed it to me during our marriage,” she alleged.
In 2016, Anderson told ABC just how serious her diagnosis had been, noting that doctors “said I would die in 10 years.” Luckily, after 15 years, not only was Anderson thriving but, following an experimental $100,000 treatment, “she learned that she had been cured of the virus after completing a 12-week regimen with a drug called Sovaldi.”
The IRS took possession of Anderson's home
Following all her personal drama and major health scare, Anderson was slapped with even more distressing news in 2012 when she landed in hot water with the IRS. According to TMZ, the animal rights activist was hit with two tax liens (in other words, the US government put a claim to her Malibu home and forbid her from selling it) amounting to more than $370,000. According to the gossip rag, the first lien was filed by the IRS, stating that Anderson owed $259,395.75 in unpaid taxes for 2011, while the second came from the state of California, citing that she owed another $112,118.90 for that same year.
As Anderson insisted to the Mirror, “I’m not trying to avoid any tax obligation. Certain events occurred, outside of my control, which caused this temporary but embarrassing situation. All of my tax obligations will be resolved in the very near future.” But that wasn’t Anderson’s first run-in with the Tax Man. As TMZ noted, she actually landed on California’s Top 500 Delinquent Tax Payers list in 2009 when the IRS filed a $1.7 million lien against her.
Pamela Anderson watched a true love suffer
Although the unclear nature of Anderson’s relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has raised many eyebrows over the years, it’s clear that she cares deeply for him. In 2017, she wrote what was practically a public love letter to Assange, which she titled My Julian. “Julian Assange is the most intelligent, interesting, and informed man in existence,” she declared, adding, “Yes, I think he’s quite sexy.”
Two years later, that flame was apparently still burning bright, as Anderson told reporters, “I love him.” However, that simple statement made it all the more heartbreaking that she’s had to watch him seek refuge at London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years before being forcibly arrested and locked up inside a high-security prison in 2019.
According to Vice, the story only gets worse, as Assange was sentenced to 11 months inside London’s Belmarsh Prison, which reportedly has issues of “overcrowding, violence, and other poor conditions.” He’s also battling an extradition request issued by the U.S. and, according to Anderson, it’s all taken a huge toll. The supermodel visited Assange in the facility and, as she told The View, what she saw was troubling. “His health is really deteriorating,” she noted. “He has lost about 30 pounds I think since I saw him, and he was thin at that point.”
She dated a 'monster' again
In June 2019, Pamela Anderson’s love life came crashing down around her once more when she learned that her boyfriend of over two years, French soccer star Adil Rami, had reportedly never broken up with his supposed ex while dating the supermodel.
In a lengthy post on her blog, Anderson revealed that she had spoken to Rami’s gilfriend and mother of his children, and claimed that she too hadn’t known the truth and was “in shock.” She wrote, “I’m devastated after talking to his ex-girlfriend. Poor woman.” Anderson continued, “I’m devastated to find out in the last few days that he was living a double life. He lied to all. How is it possible to control two women’s hearts and minds like this. I’m sure there were others.”
“I feel used. Betrayed and hurt,” Anderson added before accusing Rami of “physical and emotional torture.” She shared details of one specific alleged incident “when he crushed my hands, especially my right one, till they cracked,” then elaborated, “He would hurt me in ways you couldn’t see. Grabbing me roughly — intimidating, holding me with his physical strength. Not letting me leave. Taking keys from me In car not letting me move.” When all was said and done, Anderson could only describe him with one choice word: “monster.”
Pamela Anderson has one major regret
Despite her tumultuous life, Pamela Anderson has just one major regret — and it has to do with her body. In a 2016 interview with W Magazine, the Playboy model was asked if she “regrets anything she’s done in the name of beauty.” Rather than playing coy, she reportedly “rolled her eyes down towards her chest” and responded, “Not that we need to point it out.”
Part of that regret comes from Anderson’s newfound outlook on what it means to be beautiful. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but happiness has a lot to do with beauty,” she told the magazine. “Calm, peacefulness and not-constant stress are very, very important to feeling beautiful and confident. And that comes across whether you’re wearing makeup or not.”
Anderson also opened up about just how difficult aging can be, noting, “At a certain age, you can find yourself at a loss … Your children are grown. You may have gone through a divorce. You’re trying to find meaning.” She asked, “What’s your purpose now?”
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