Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee: A Timeline of Their Whirlwind Relationship and Tumultuous Marriage

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It's hard to believe that it's been nearly three decades since Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee commenced an unforgettable relationship, triggering a tsunami of tabloid coverage and yes, that infamous sex tape.

They were at the pinnacle of their careers prior to meeting on New Year's Eve in 1994 -- Lee, as America's bad boy drummer for the rock band Mötley Crüe and Anderson, as the sultry lifeguard on the hit series Baywatch.

Their unparalleled magnetism reached new heights when they tied the knot in 1995 after dating for less than a week. Interest in the couple reached a fevered pitch when their sex tape -- which was stored inside a safe containing Anderson's jewelry and other family heirlooms -- was stolen in late 1995. Months later, Anderson and Lee's tabloid fodder would veer away from their budding relationship to their tape filmed while on their Lake Mead vacation -- eight minutes of home footage showing them in their most intimate setting that was never intended for the public to see.

It's been some 27 years since the outset of the relationship and the spectacle that followed, but now their story's been told to a new generation with Hulu's miniseries, Pam & Tommy. As it turned out, that was only the starting point to the twists and turns the saga navigated in the years since. And on the eve of the series finale, ET takes a look back at how they got here.

Dec. 31, 1994: Anderson and Lee meet

According to the New York Post, Anderson and Lee's worlds were headed on a collision course in the mid-'90s, given their heightened statuses in Hollywood. The outlet reported that the Playboy model turned actress and the rock star met on New Year's Eve in 1994 on L.A.'s Sunset Strip at Sanctuary, a club Anderson partly owned.

Anderson was reportedly so captivated by Lee, she felt compelled to send him a shot of Goldschläger, prompting the musician to slide into her booth and ratchet up the charm the rest of the night.

"He came up, grabbed me and licked my face," the actress said in a 1995 interview for Movieline magazine. "I thought he was cool, friendly, nice guy. I gave him my number."

Feb. 15, 1995: Lee invites himself to Cancún to see Anderson

For six weeks, Anderson and Lee played phone tag, though that's not how he described it in Mötley Crüe's autobiography, The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band. In an excerpt provided to Rolling Stone in 2001, Lee recalls finally getting the message he had been waiting for from Anderson.

"Tommy. Damn, you’re not there. It’s Pamela. I’ve got twenty-four hours to play, and I want to play with you. Call me at the Hotel Nikko at 5 P.M., and we’ll rendezvous," he says she told him. Psyched to finally see her since their meeting at Sanctuary, Lee brushed his teeth, threw on his "dirtiest f**king leather pants, slipped into an old T-shirt that stank of B.O." and raced to the hotel. 

Problem was, according to the book excerpt, Anderson never showed up to the hotel. Lee desperately dialed up the hotel numerous times, waited for an hour in the lobby and called every number at his disposal trying to locate Anderson. Finally, just before 10 p.m., Anderson called to tell Lee she was headed to Cancún for a photo shoot the next day.

"What about me?" Lee asked. Anderson wasn't having it, and made it crystal clear to Lee that under no circumstance was he to book a flight to Mexico. Her reason was simple -- she'd been booked for 18-hour days "and there's no time to play."

Lee played it cool. He said he'd call Anderson when she got back from her work trip, but what he actually did was book a flight to Cancún. He then left a message on her answering machine to inform her that he was "coming to find your a**." He eventually tracked down Anderson at the sixth hotel on his list -- the Ritz-Carlton.

"And when they said there was a Pamela Anderson staying there, I practically wet myself with excitement," Lee says in the book. "I left a message, or six, asking if she wanted to meet for a drink."

The ordeal apparently left Anderson seething, but at the insistence of a friend who reminded Anderson about the lengths Lee went to see her, Anderson relented and agreed to see him for one drink. They'd eventually stumble upon Señor Frog’s before making their way back to Anderson's hotel room.

"When we finally fell asleep, that was the first time the entire night that we stopped looking into each other’s eyes," Lee recalls. 

Feb. 19, 1995: Anderson and Lee get married

Lee writes in the autobiography that he and Anderson spent every night together following their first date, going bar and club hopping and enjoying Mexico's picturesque beach. When Anderson was busy with her photo shoot, Lee says he would sit in his hotel room "like a dead man and wait for her to call so I could come back to life."

"I couldn't believe that it was possible to feel so happy," Lee adds in the book. "For a so-called bad boy, I was turning into a pansy. It felt like our hearts had been hot-glued together."

When Anderson's photo shoot ended, the new couple decided to stay for an extra couple of days. And, while at a disco club dubbed La Boom, Lee says he took off his pinky ring and put it on Anderson's finger and asked her to marry him. It would be Anderson's first marriage and Lee's third, after model Elaine Starchuk (1984-1985) and actress Heather Locklear (1986-1993).

Pamela Anderson Tommy Lee

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee get married on February 19, 1995 on the beach in Cancun, Mexico as fans watch nearby.

Getty

"She said yes, hugged me and stuck her tongue down my throat," Lee recalls. "The next morning, we asked the hotel to find someone to perform a marriage ceremony. We gave blood, sniffed out a marriage license and were on the beach getting married before the day was over. Instead of wedding bands, we went for something more permanent: Tattoos of each other’s names around our fingers."

In a November 1998 sit-down with Interview magazine, Anderson reflected on the marriage.

"Tommy and I started out having a very intense, fun, crazy relationship because we were two kids," said Anderson, who was 27 when she wed Lee, who was 32 at the time. "We were madly in love. It wasn’t like drugs or alcohol or anything like that. We were both just really passionate about life."

Feb. 20, 1995: Reality sets in on the flight back to L.A.

Lee recalls in his band's autobiography that getting off the plane at LAX turned into a "s**t storm." He says paparazzi swarmed the newly married couple, and when they got to Anderson's home in Malibu, paparazzi set up camp nearby.

"It was like we had gone from the total-freedom paradise of Cancún to this hellish prison of Hollywood Babylon," Lee notes.

And when Anderson called her mom to deliver the news herself, she apparently didn't take the news well. Lee also claims her brother wanted Anderson's address so he could come over and beat him up. Anderson's family ultimately accepted the nuptials.

Oct. 13, 1995: Anderson reveals to Lee she's pregnant

In the book, Lee says Anderson told him she was four weeks pregnant 10 days after she threw him an extravagant 33rd birthday party. Anderson would later give birth to Brandon Thomas Lee on June 5, 1996. Anderson delivered Brandon with a midwife in the same bedroom where he was conceived, according to Lee.

"That was hands down the best day of my life," Lee recalls. "And half an hour later I sat down at the piano and the song 'Brandon' just came out of me."

Pamela Anderson

Pam Anderson with Brandon and Dylan Lee at the Daily Front Row 'Fashion Los Angeles Awards' in 2016 at Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, California.

Getty

January 1996: Lee discovers their safe has been stolen

The Hulu series Pam & Tommy is adapted from Amanda Chicago Lewis' 2014 story -- headlined "Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Sex Tape" -- for Rolling Stone. In that story, Lewis reports it all started when an electrician that had been hired as part of a team renovating the couple's Malibu home was fired but still owed $20,000.

One night, when the ex-employee and another contractor returned to the home to retrieve their tools after being fired, it's reported that Lee allegedly pointed a shotgun at them and told them to get off of his property. Feeling humiliated and mistreated, the ex-employee -- now known to the world as Rand Gauthier -- concocted a plan to exact revenge.

After spending the summer of 1995 planning the heist, Gauthier claimed to Rolling Stone he pulled it off just before Halloween by disarming the security cameras he had been hired to install. For good measure, Gauthier also threw on a white Tibetan yank fur rug over his back and crawled on his hands and knees to make it seem as though it was the couple's dog walking the property.

The six feet by four feet by three feet safe contained, among other things, the 54-minute tape (eight minutes of which showed the couple having sex). But it wasn't until January 1996 when Lee discovered the safe had been stolen out of his garage, which had been converted into a studio. Lee filed a police report and hired a private investigator, but by then, a chain of events had been set in motion, and efforts to halt them proved futile.

March 1996: Lee and Anderson file lawsuit

The couple would eventually file a $10 million lawsuit against Penthouse magazine, which obtained a copy of the infamous tape. Subsequently, the magazine published in incredible detail the contents of the tape for its June story. The Los Angeles Times would later report that a judge threw out the couple's invasion of privacy lawsuit against Penthouse, citing that images in the story had already been published elsewhere and that said images accompanied a "newsworthy" story about the couple and their marriage.

October 1996: Lee charged following fight with paparazzo

According to multiple reports, the rock star allegedly threw a cameraman to the ground while leaving the famed Viper Room in West Hollywood the month prior. The scuffle was caught on tape, and the videographer thrown to the ground dislocated his hip as a result of the attack.

According to a spokeswoman for the actress at the time, Anderson and Lee were harassed and pepper-sprayed by photogs on their way out of the club, triggering the altercation.

November 1997: The sex tape hits the Internet

While bootleg copies had already been floating around for some time, it was IEG founder Seth Warshavsky who went ahead with his plans to broadcast the video, after a judge refused to issue an injunction against him. The day after the judge's decision, Warshavsky posted the tape on his subscription-based Club Love website on a five-hour loop.

After exhausting every avenue afforded to them through the courts, Lee and Anderson signed away the tape's copyright, Rolling Stone reported, under the false impression Warshavsky had permission to show the tape on his website without allowing them to sell the tape in stores. At the time, the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, prompting the magazine to write, "By all accounts the couple underestimated the reach of the Internet."

In addition to the bootleg videos circulating throughout, there was also a plethora of websites serving as distributors. But Warshavsky's stunt made the video go viral, with Rolling Stone reporting that the tape made approximately $77 million in less than a year. 

Looking back on the ordeal, Anderson opened up to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live! in 2015 about the stolen tape. 

"I’ve never seen it. I made not one dollar. It was stolen property. We made a deal to stop all the shenanigans," she said. "I was seven months pregnant with Dylan and thinking it was affecting the pregnancy with the stress and said, 'I'm not going to court anymore. I’m not being deposed anymore by these horny, weird lawyer men. I don’t want to talk about my vagina anymore or my public sex -- anything.'"

Five years later, in 2020 on WWHL!, Anderson chuckled when the conversation of the sex tape came up again and said, "That was not a sex tape. That was a compilation of vacations that we were naked on."

February 1998: Lee is arrested and Anderson files for divorce

Just seven weeks after the couple's second son, Dylan, was born, Lee was arrested after Anderson called police and accused him of kicking her in the back and buttocks as she held their newborn son. At the time, cops said Anderson had a broken nail and visible red marks on her back. Within days of this incident, Anderson filed for divorce from Lee after three years of marriage. It wasn't the first time she filed for divorce, though. Anderson had previously filed in November 1996, but she dropped it shortly after.

May 20, 1998: Lee is sent to jail

According to The Associated Press, Lee pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six months (serving four) behind bars in his felony spousal abuse case. Lee was also given three years probation, ordered to stay away from Anderson, avoid drugs and alcohol and donate $5,000 to a battered-women's shelter. 

"They threw me in an isolated cell and shut the heavy door, which sent a loud metallic thud reverberating through the cellblock," Lee recalled of his experience in his band's autobiography. "It was the loneliest f**king sound I’d ever heard. This was the room I was supposed to spend the next six months in. It was basically a rock of concrete broken up only by a metal bed with a useless half-inch mattress."

September 1999: Their iconic look at the MTV Video Music Awards

Earlier that year, Lee had gotten sober, and with his heavy drinking seemingly in his past, Anderson told Entertainment Weekly that she and Lee had been discussing getting married again.

"I picture Tommy and me…old, toothless, on a bench somewhere with our tattoos," Anderson gushed to the outlet. Their reunion included a trip to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

Anderson wore a white corset, sequined pants and a giant pink feathered hat created by Ivy Supersonic. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Anderson had seen Supersonic's work in Lee's music video for "Get Naked," the track he released after temporarily quitting Mötley Crüe and launching his own rap-metal band, Methods of Mayhem.

Tommy Lee Pamela Anderson

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson during the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards at Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

Getty

"Anderson just saw the whole thing with the hats [in the “Get Naked” video], and she came up to me and said, ‘Hey, so I’m [presenting at] the [VMAs] next week. Could you make me a pink feathered cowboy hat?'" Supersonic recalled to THR. "I made her this pink feathered -- I can’t really call it a cowboy hat -- it was just an Ivy Supersonic feathered hat. It was very big, pink and fluffy. I thought that she would like it, and I was hoping she would."

The following year, in 2000, the couple once again called it quits. 

June 2008: Anderson and Lee reconcile

Anderson married Kid Rock in 2006 and divorced him in 2007 before marrying Rick Salomon that same year. That marriage was annulled the following year, the same year when, according to Rolling Stone, Lee said, "Pamela and the kids have moved in with me." He added that it's "definitely working" this time around and that "we've only given it a try 800 times -- 801, here we go." They split for good in 2010.

Salomon, famous for his own 2004 sex tape with Paris Hilton and other high-profile marriages that included Shannen Doherty, would marry Anderson again in 2014 but divorce the following year. Anderson married her fourth husband, Dan Hayhurst, on Dec. 24, 2020, but divorced him in January 2022. 

March 2018: Lee and son Brandon get into a physical altercation

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officer told ET that police responded to Lee's Calabasas, California, home, where he alleged that Brandon hit him. The officer also shared that he was transported to a local hospital, noting that he had a visible injury on his face.

Brandon claimed the altercation with Lee stemmed from his father's alleged alcoholism. Brandon released a statement to People saying he was "devastated at the events of the last several days that have been a result of my father’s alcoholism." He added, "I’ve worked tirelessly organizing an intervention and it’s incredibly upsetting that it never came to fruition. I wanted my dad's hopeful sobriety and recovery to be a private family matter but, as a result of his accusations on social media, I feel forced to speak out."

For her part, Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter that she's staying out of the drama. She told the outlet, "The kids are adults, and they make all their own decisions. I look at the differences in their personalities and their fearlessness and their ambition and their clarity, and I'm just so proud of both of them."

Lee and Brandon have since patched things up.

September 2021: Lee reacts to Hulu's Pam & Tommy

Lee told ET that he has no problem with Sebastian Stan playing him in Pam & Tommy. The 58-year-old drummer made the comments at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, and admitted that he hasn't seen the photos of 39-year-old Stan portraying him alongside actress Lily James, who plays Anderson in the miniseries. 

"I know Sebastian, he's playing me. From what he's told me, really beautiful story," Lee shared with ET. "I think a lot of people would think it's one thing, but it's really about privacy and how things got crazy then. There's different laws now." 

Lee also said he was looking forward to the miniseries, but admitted to ET that the situation in real life was tough.

"The story's actually cool, what actually happened wasn't," he said, adding that "people need to know" what occurred.

January 2022: Hulu trailer shows another side to the sex tape scandal

The preview begins with Anderson, portrayed by Lily James, sitting down for what appears to be a deposition as she chronicles her budding relationship with Lee. In what's being dubbed as "The greatest love story ever sold," the story takes a turn for the worse after Gauthier (played by Seth Rogen) and his friend, Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman), reveal they've "recently come into possession of a piece of material," and then all hell breaks loose.

March 2022: Anderson plans to tell her truth

Netflix announced it will stream Anderson's new documentary. The streaming giant billed the project as several years in the making, and that it "will feature the pop culture icon setting the record straight as she looks back on her professional path and her personal journey."

Ryan White (Ask Dr. RuthThe Keepers) is directing the project that promises to be "an intimate portrait" of Anderson's life.

The announcement also included a note from Anderson with a kiss print, which read, "My life, a thousand imperfections, a million misperceptions. Wicked, wild and lost, nothing to live up to. I can only surprise you. Not a victim, but a survivor -- alive to tell her real story."

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