‘Pamela, A Love Story’: 15 Takeaways From Pamela Anderson Netflix Documentary

Pamela Anderson in 'Pamela, A Love Story'
Spoiler Alert

Pamela Anderson tells the story of her own life in her own words in Pamela, a love story, now streaming on Netflix.

The former Playboy model and Baywatch star documents her entire life, from childhood to present day, in the candid film. The actor has a peacefully self-aware air about her as she regales the most impactful moments of her life, all meticulously documented through diary entries and home videos through the years. Anderson reads scores of her diary entries (many written on yellow legal pads and preserved in storage at her parents’ house) throughout the film, making them a character that helps viewers look behind the curtain and get a glimpse at the star’s inner emotional world as she was discovered in 1989, through the infamous stolen sex tape scandal, and all the way through her successful Broadway run in Chicago in 2022.

There are plenty of things we already know about Anderson in Pamela, a love story, such as her feelings about the stolen sex tape. Anderson also makes her feelings about Hulu‘s Pam & Tommy clear, in addition to addressing her friendship with Julian Assange, her many failed marriages, and her feelings for her great love, Tommy Lee.

Here are the biggest reveals and takeaways from Pamela, a love story, in order of appearance in the documentary.

Pamela, a love story, Streaming Now, Netflix

'Pamela, A Love Story'

1. She was sexually abused by her babysitter for years

Anderson starts the documentary with stories of her childhood, the most heartbreaking of which being the reveal that she was molested by her babysitter for years and believed she “wished her dead,” the guilt of which traumatized her further.

“I tried to protect my brother from her. I tried to kill her. I tried to stab her in the heart with a candy cane pen,” Anderson shares in the film. “And then I told her I wanted her to die, and then she died in a car accident the next day, so I thought I killed her with my magical mind and I couldn’t tell anybody. But I was sure that I did it, that I wished her dead and she died. I lived with that my whole really young life. When those traumatic events happened, I would leave my body and float away and I’d make my own little world.”

'Pamela, A Love Story'

2. She was raped at age 12

Not long after sharing the story of her babysitter, Anderson reveals she was raped at the age of 12 by a 25-year-old man whom she does not name. He was a friend of her friend’s crush. Anderson’s friend was 13 or 14 years old, and they had gone to the crush’s house. While the friend was upstairs with said crush (another man in his 20s), Anderson was assaulted downstairs.

Pamela Anderson & Marilyn Grabowski in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

3. Posing for Playboy helped her reclaim her body & sexuality

Anderson was discovered at a Canadian football game and became known as the “Blue Zone Girl.” That led to a modeling campaign with a beer line, which led to Playboy finding her and offering her a feature in the magazine. She was self-conscious about her body initially during the shoot.

“When I got to that first Playboy photo shoot, I just said, ‘Why am I so freaking paralyzed by this shyness? I’m so sick of all of this past that’s created this insecurity in me. It’s like a prison. I have to break out of it,’” Anderson says in the doc. But once she let go of her fear, her life changed forever.

“From the first snap of the picture, I felt like I was throwing myself off a bridge and falling. That was the first time I felt like I’d broken free of something,” she shares, adding this line from a diary entry from that week: “Photo shoot: Shy at first, by end of the week, you had to stop me from running out the door naked.”

Sharing her body by choice empowered the young Anderson and became a healing experience after years of sexual abuse.

“I just remember at some point, when I was in the fountain splashing around and there’s a little bit of nudity, and I could feel the silk. I’d pull it across my skin and then I would get goosebumps. That’s where a wild woman was born,” she describes to the cameras. “I felt like it was a gateway into another world. Now, I was gonna take the power of my own sexuality and take my power back, and I did it I think in a really big way.”

Pamela Anderson in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

4. Sylvester Stallone once offered her a condo & Porsche to be his 'No. 1 Girl'

Anderson lists the famous men she dated before meeting Lee: Mario Van Peebles, Scott Baio, Dean Cain (confirming the rumors), Eric Nies, David Charvet, and Kelly Slater (her “big love” before the Mötley Crüe rocker).

Sylvester Stallone apparently once tried to get on that list, but on the condition that she be cool with him dating other women simultaneously. He offered her a condo and a Porsche to be his “No. 1 girl.”

Anderson says she replied to the Rocky star, “Does that mean there’s a No. 2? Uh uh!”

“He goes, ‘That’s the best offer you’re gonna get, honey. You’re in Hollywood now,'” she adds. “I wanted to really be in love, and I didn’t want anything less than that.”

Pamela Anderson & Kelly Slater in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

5. She was still dating Kelly Slater when she married Tommy Lee in Cancun

Anderson dated the surfer off and on for a while, and he had other relationships throughout their time together as well. But they were back together when Anderson went to Mexico for a photo shoot not long after meeting Lee at her club, Sanctuary. The model was supposed to go to Florida to meet Slater’s family after returning from Cancun. She called to tell him she had married Lee after just four days in Mexico.

Pamela Anderson & Tommy Lee circa 2004
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

6. Pam & Tommy got their relationship timeline wrong

Anderson experienced a heartbreaking miscarriage while filming Barb Wire, which was documented in Pam & Tommy, as were the fights with the harassing press, but the Hulu series took some liberties with the timeline of all of these events.

Brandon Lee, their first son, was already born by the time the “spliced” together sex tape was out in the world. Anderson was pregnant with their second son, Dylan Lee, during the legal battle over it. Pam & Tommy didn’t show Brandon’s birth until after the debacle, and showed Pam leaving Tommy before Dylan was born. In reality, Dylan was a baby when his parents split.

“People marry after knowing each other two years and go, ‘Now I finally like you enough to get married.’ Everyone changes every day. So I think you have to be pretty brave,” Anderson shares in the doc.

As she has shared in the past, her whirlwind romance with Lee was “one of the most wildest, most beautiful love affairs ever.”

“What was different about Tommy is there was no secrets, there was no deception, there was no game playing,” she shares. “It was really just full-on, heart-to-heart, explosive kind of love.”

Pamela Anderson in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

7. The stolen sex tape 'felt like a rape'

To this day, Anderson and Lee don’t know who stole the safe containing their home videos. Pam & Tommy had Seth Rogen play the person who did, but it seems Anderson herself has no idea if the show was correct. The tape and Pam & Tommy are two things she’ll never watch.

What she does know is that she and Lee didn’t make the video montage seen around the globe.

“What they did is they found all the nudity they could from different Hi8 tapes, and they spliced it together. But we had no idea who sent the tape,” she says in the film.

The deposition process was “brutal” for the star, who was pregnant with Dylan at the time. Lawyers argued that because she was in Playboy, she had no right to privacy — a dehumanizing framing.

“It made me feel like I was such a horrible woman. I’m just a piece of meat. That this should mean nothing to me because I’m such a whore, basically,” she says. “They didn’t have a lot of sympathy for me. They’re all, ‘Oh, she’s in Playboy. She likes being naked in public.’ First of all, it was my choice to be in the magazine. Playboy was empowering for me. But in this case, it felt like a rape. Not to bring up something really heavy from my childhood, but when I was attacked by this guy, I thought everybody would know. When the tape was stolen, it felt like that. And the depositions were so brutal. I remember looking at them thinking, ‘Why do they hate me so much? Why do these grown men hate me so much?’”

Pamela Anderson & son in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

8. They dropped the lawsuit to save Anderson's pregnancy

Eventually, it became clear to the couple that this right to privacy case was not going to be successful. They had to walk away in order to protect Anderson’s health, as well as the safety of her pregnancy with Dylan.

“It was just tearing me apart. It absolutely devastated me,” she shares. “But I just closed my eyes and signed the papers.”

Anderson and Lee lost all rights to the footage, and IEG (the company that distributed it) made millions. Once it hit the internet and became accessible to everyone, it “truly was the first viral video,” Brandon explains.

“You can’t put a monetary number on the amount of pain and suffering that it caused,” says Anderson, who along with Lee has never gotten a dime of the video’s profits. She and her sons both recognize that the stolen tape ruined her chances of having a “serious career.”

“After that, it just felt like that solidified the cartoon image. You become a caricature. I think that was the deterioration of whatever image I had,” Anderson explains. “It was different for me than it was for him. Tommy is a rockstar. It all adds to the image of the craziness and everything. But I knew at that point my career was over.”

Brandon Thomas Lee & Dylan Jagger Lee in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

9. Brandon & Dylan Lee feel the effects of the stolen tape

Brandon wishes his parents were able to make money off of the traumatizing tape ordeal. He sees how the money could have made his mother’s life easier in the aftermath of such a degrading experience.

“I wish she would’ve made the money. She would’ve made millions of dollars if she just would’ve signed a piece of paper,” he says. “Instead she sat back with nothing and watched her career fizzle into thin air. She was in debt most of her life.”

Dylan thinks refusing money (Anderson and Lee were offered $5 million cash for the rights to the tape by the owner of Penthouse magazine) shows her true character.

“I think it would’ve been a different story if she did cash in on the tape,” Dylan says. “It just shows you, right? That thing guaranteed made people millions of dollars, and she was like, ‘No.’ She 100% cared about her family being OK and me being OK. Never cared about money.”

Dylan also shares that kids bringing up his mom during school made him quick to fight. Both of the boys came home from school asking questions about the tape at different points, Anderson shares. All three of them seem critical of Pam & Tommy. When Anderson asked Lee how he felt about the series, he replied, “Pamela, just don’t let it hurt you as much as it did the first time.”

Tommy Lee & Pamela Anderson circa 1998
Brenda Chase/Stringer/Getty Images

10. Lee was a threatening presence on set of Baywatch

Reports of Lee’s volatile behavior during their marriage were public knowledge, but Anderson shares more information about Lee lurking on set of Baywatch and blowing up in jealous anger on multiple occasions.

During her last season of the series, Lee trashed Anderson’s trailer after he saw her doing a kissing scene with co-star David Chokachi, a scene she intentionally kept secret from him out of fear of his response. Lee punched a hole through a cabinet, said she lied to him, and she told him it wouldn’t happen again.

Michael Berk, co-creator of Baywatch, says in an old interview in the doc that Lee kept constant tabs on his wife’s scenes and the contents of them.

“He would always know when to show up. He would look at the call sheets. He would see what scenes she was in,” Berk said. “He probably had access to the script and would show up in the scenes where there could be an opportunity for him to get pissed.”

Anderson corroborates this in the film, saying, “The whole Baywatch crew, if they saw Tommy coming, they would change the dialogue, change the scene. He was always in my eyeline. He would always be behind the camera. Tommy was always there. It was too much.”

I think Tommy went through a little postpartum,” she adds.

Tommy Lee circa 1998 at arraignment in California
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

11. Leaving abusive husbands was simple for Anderson

Looking back on her romance with Lee, Anderson admits she can see the “big red flags.” But if she didn’t think about it that much, she would think their relationship was “perfect.”

While she had a deep love for Tommy and “his soul,” leaving him after an instance of physical abuse was simple. After the Baywatch story, Anderson describes the night that led to Lee being arrested for spousal and child abuse in 1998. Anderson was holding the infant Dylan (just 6 or 7 weeks old at the time) when Lee blew up at her, shaking her and endangering the baby. Anderson sustained some cuts on her hand and a broken nail.

Lee himself admitted in an old interview shown in the film that he didn’t know how to deal with becoming third on Anderson’s list of priorities after his sons. He was sentenced to six months in jail, during which Anderson tried to divorce him. She had to bifurcate their divorce in the end, because Lee wouldn’t sign the papers. She kept all of his letters from prison among her extensive archive of journals, home videos, and mementos.

“He really fought for us to stay together. I had to bifurcate the divorce cause he wouldn’t sign the papers,” she says. “He thought we could get through it. I just took my kids and was like, ‘No.’ It wasn’t a gray area for me.”

That mindset would prevail when future husbands were physically and emotionally abusive.

Pamela Anderson & Kid Rock in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

12. Why Anderson's other marriages never lasted

After divorcing Lee, Anderson wed four more guys. She was briefly married to Kid Rock (home videos from their time living in Detroit with him are shown), and she kept on being a hopeless “romantic” through her many failed marriages. The model reveals that she wed all these men to give a family structure to her sons, not because she truly loved them.

Many of the relationships also didn’t work because the men were jealous of Lee, who stayed in Anderson’s life as a co-parent to Brandon and Dylan. She says that she and Lee never had a chance to become real friends after their split because of these jealous men.

After years of reflection, Anderson feels she knows why some of her volatile relationships ended with such intensity.

“I’m attracted to these very hetero, masculine men,” she explains. “Their initial attraction to me might be, oh, she’s the Playboy thing, or this kind of sexual thing, but I’m not the damsel in distress. I am very capable, and some men hate you for being something else. And then it became violent. For me, because I could leave at any time, I used to always say, ‘I don’t need to be with you. I want to be with you. And if I want to leave, I can.’ And if I ever stated those facts, it made people insecure and sometimes they start grabbing you by the hair and throwing you into walls and stripping your clothes off. Craziest stuff would happen. It just touched some kind of weird part of a man, in my relationships anyway.”

Pamela Anderson & Brandon Lee in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

13. She still wishes she could be with Tommy

“It’s probably gonna get me a lot of sh*t for saying this, but I really loved your dad for all the right reasons and I don’t think I’ve ever loved anybody else. It’s f***ed,” she tells son Dylan while watching an old home video of Lee.

Single again after many husbands later (her latest divorce was in 2022), Anderson was dealing with the realization that she still wanted to be with Lee. The feelings were inspired by seeing her parents make it work through decades of a volatile bond.

“I never got over not being able to make it work with the father of my kids,” she says in a voicemail played in the documentary. “And even though I thought I could recreate a family or fall in love with somebody else, it’s just not me. So I think that’s probably why I keep failing in all of my relationships. My parents were wild and crazy and madly in love and made stupid decisions and hurt each other and hurt us. But they stuck it out and stayed together, and I can see that they’re happy now. So I think I’d rather be alone than not be with the father of my kids. It’s impossible to be with anybody else, but I don’t think I can be with Tommy either. It’s almost like a punishment.”

Sebastian Stan & Lily James in 'Pam & Tommy'
Erin Simkin/Hulu

14. Pam & Tommy made Anderson feel sick

Anderson was preparing to make her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago while Pam & Tommy was coming out. And the doc makes it seem as though Anderson, her sons, and Lee were only made aware of the show after it was already green-lit.

Given that she didn’t consent to that show telling her story, she felt like she was being violated once more. Brandon calls Anderson after watching the first three episodes (he only saw them after they came out on Hulu, not in advance), telling her about Rogen’s character. The reasons for stealing the tape the show gave Rogen’s Rand made Anderson feel sick and angered Brandon.

“I blocked that out of my life. I had to, in order to survive, really. It was a survival mechanism. And now that it’s all coming up again, I feel sick,” she says. “From my whole stomach all the way to my chest. My stomach feels right now like it’s just been punched. I don’t feel good right now.”

“This feels like when the tape was stolen,” Anderson adds. “Basically, you’re just a thing owned by the world. I feel like it’s… just ignore them. Let it go.”

Pamela Anderson in 'Pamela, A Love Story'

15. Chicago was another moment of reclamation

Chicago became her outlet for processing this lifetime of other people capitalizing off of her trauma.

“My life is not a woe-is-me story. I’m not a victim. I’ve put myself in crazy situations and survived them,” she says as the doc closes out. “As much pain as we can endure in our life, it’s kind of like the catalyst to all the great stuff like poetry, music, art. I’m grateful for all the experiences I’ve had, and I don’t blame anybody for anything. I’m glad I had them.”