By Pamela Anderson
Dey Street Books; hardcover, 256 pages; $28.99
Pamela Anderson is one of those celebrities that people know immediately who you're talking about, as her name conjures images of her being on the beach on Baywatch, in the pages of Playboy, and tabloid fodder with her many relationships, most notably with rocker Tommy Lee.
It was all part of the blond bombshell image that Anderson cultivated in the 1990s, and as her revealing and entertaining memoir, Love, Pamela, reveals, it was created through happenstance and not careful cultivation.
Anderson grew up on Vancouver Island, and she had a hardscrabble childhood as the daughter of young, wild, and unwittingly stylish parents. At that time, she developed a deep love of nature, and she populated her world with misfits, phantom friends, and injured animals.
One thing Anderson had to overcome was her natural shyness, and she was discovered at a Canadian football game. Her restless imagination propelled her into a life few can dream of, and her writing on coming to California for her first Playboy shoot was fascinating, with tidbits such as wondering if the phone in her hotel room allowed long-distance calls.
Anderson settled into California, lived in a house owned by producer Jon Peters in Bel Air, who had pursued her at one of Hugh Hefner's parties, and of her neighbor was Ronald Reagan, who returned to his home state after his presidency.
While she was doing Playboy shoots (she revealed the centerfolds were the toughest to do), her first acting role was on the most popular show in North America, Home Improvement, as Lisa the Tool Time Girl.
At the time, she also was being recruited for Baywatch. She went along with her boyfiend David Charvet while he auditioned, and the casting director asked if she was "the Pamela Anderson. The one who never showed up," Anderson writes. She said she was, and she got the job on the spot. The producers got to know her, and she said she loved oceans, animals, crystals, and how she could feel energy. That was how C.J., or Casey Jean, Parker was developed.
It didn't take long for Baywatch to become a smash hit, so much so that she gave up her role on Home Improvement, choosing quality of life over a bigger paycheck.
Anderson brought her dog, Star, to the Baywatch set every day and became close to the cast. By the fourth season, she was the most popular star on the show, and international broadcasters would only buy episodes she appeared in. This led to "Pamela clauses" in the international deals, as it became the number one show in the world with billions of viewers. Anderson wrote of how fast it grew, "Baywatch was shown in 150 countries. At the time, I didn't even know there were 150 countries."
Eventually, Anderson became the bombshell of her era, and she writes that she felt honored when she "received messages of support from the glamorous bombshell women of other eras. Brigitte Bardot called me her 'daughter.' We have worked on many animal rights campaigns together but have never met in person. And Raquel Welch gave me advice on men. Be with someone unexpected, she said. I think I took that too much to heart in my later years."
Love, Pamela is one of the most entertaining books you will read about someone who epitomized an era that people remember fondly. The presentation of the cover is one unique feature, as is the fact that there is poetry sprinkled throughout the text, such as this:
are hard to recognize
in the context
of all my past
and present decisions.
There is no right
just personal fixations
based on one's history,
I was always told I was
Nobody agreed with my choices
that's a good sign.
I was on no path but my own.
I was a hands-on parent,
baseball game schedules
written into my film
and TV contracts.
My children always come first -
no matter what -
Nobody can take that away
A rarity in Hollywood.
and still am
I'm proud of that.
My defenses are weak.
I'm not bitter,
I don't have the craving to be hard,
heard, or taken seriously.
I prefer to be fluid
Leaving life to chance
"Give me something else I can't handle,"
I'd say -
Up for the challenge.