Ever since making her Playboy debut in 1989, Pamela Anderson has been a fixture on the pop culture landscape, akin to Marilyn Monroe. From running in slow-motion in a high-cut red bathing suit on Baywatch to gracing countless red carpets in sassy '90s clubwear, Anderson left an indelible mark on the decade.
More than 30 years after coming into the spotlight, Anderson remains as popular as ever, thanks to the recent Pam & Tommy miniseries (with which she had no involvement) detailing the controversy around her infamous leaked sex tape with rocker ex-husband Tommy Lee, as well as her recent Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago, and an upcoming Netflix documentary where she plans to set the record straight about her life in her own words. Here are some fun facts about the fabulous star.
1. Pamela Anderson was born on Canada's Centennial Day.
Born at 4:08 a.m. on July 1, 1967 in Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada, Anderson is a Centennial baby, as her birthdate syncs up precisely with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Canadian Confederation. For years, many outlets reported that she was the first baby girl born in the country on that day, but this has since been debunked.
2. Pamela Anderson was “discovered” after being featured on a jumbotron.
The story of Anderson’s discovery and quick rise to fame is straight out of a modern-day fairytale. In 1989, at age 22, a then-unknown Anderson was a spectator at a BC Lions football game. She was shown on the stadium’s jumbotron screen, and just happened to be wearing a shirt emblazoned with a Labatt Beer logo. Anderson’s natural beauty made a big impression: Labatt quickly hired her as a model, and she appeared on her first Playboy cover that same year. “I looked up at the big screen and saw this huge face, and I’m looking and going, ‘Oh my God, that’s me.’ I didn’t even recognize myself,” she recalled in a 1992 interview with Inside Edition.
3. She made Playboy history.
Anderson appeared on the cover of Playboy more than any other woman in the magazine’s long history—14 times, to be exact. She was Playmate of the Month in February 1990, and was a covergirl throughout the decade and into the 2000s. After Hugh Hefner’s death in 2017, she called the controversial publisher, whose magazine firmly cemented her sex symbol status, “the most important person in my life.”
4. Anderson’s written a variety of books inspired by her life.
Anderson isn’t just a model and actress, she’s also an author. In 2004, she published her debut novel Star, a beach read about a freewheeling, fictionalized version of herself, aptly named Star Wood Leigh. She later released a sequel, Star Struck, featuring a not-so-subtle Tommy Lee stand-in character. Both books were written with a ghostwriter, Eric Shaw Quinn. Unlike many celebrity authors, Anderson didn’t attempt to hide her ghostwriter, even sitting side-by-side with him at a crowded Barnes and Noble book signing. She’s also published Raw, featuring behind-the-scenes photographs by Emma Dunlavy interspersed with Anderson’s handwritten words, and Lust for Love: Rekindling Intimacy and Passion in Your Relationship, a sexual self-help book co-written with celebrity Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
5. She’s collaborated with Stan Lee.
One of Anderson’s most surprising collaborations involved comic book icon Stan Lee (nope, no relation to Tommy!). In 2003, Lee created an adult animated series, Stripperella, featuring Anderson as the voice of the title character, a stripper who is secretly an undercover superhero. The show was only on for a single season, with 13 episodes total, but considering the hold Lee’s characters have on pop culture, maybe it will be rebooted one day.
6. Anderson got her signature tattoo for a movie role.
In 1995, while shooting the movie Barb Wire, Anderson got a distinctive tattoo of barbed wire circling her left bicep. The tattoo was part of the character’s styling, but rather than using a fake one, the actress decided to take the plunge and actually get inked, telling the Los Angeles Times in 1995, “The makeup people were going to paint this on my arm every day, but I had a tattoo artist just sketch it on me and I wore it around for a half a day to see how it looked. I decided I'd just go ahead and get it done. I love it. I think it's very feminine, for barbed wire.” In 2014, however, she had it removed.
7. She's been a long-time, prominent supporter of PETA.
Anderson has been a vocal animal rights advocate for years, and first reached out to PETA in 1997. Since then, she’s posed in memorable ads for the brand, and participated in a range of outreach campaigns. She gave up eating meat during her time on Baywatch, and has been one of the entertainment industry’s most prominent vegans ever since. She even has her own foundation dedicated to animal rights, and has said, “I’m an activist, and I’m not doing it for myself … I’m doing it for animals and people who are vulnerable and can’t speak for themselves. It was never my intention to get any credit for any of it, and people are just noticing.”
8. She's an outspoken advocate for Julian Assange.
Anderson’s activism isn’t just limited to animal rights. In 2014, she befriended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. She’s since been a vocal supporter of his work, and has protested on his behalf, calling the charges against him “simply a criminalization of a free press.” Anderson aggressively lobbied Donald Trump to pardon him, and used social media to call attention to the whistleblower’s case. She’s even visited Assange in prison and has passionately defended him in many of her media appearances and interviews.
9. Anderson’s become a style icon for Gen Z.
Nineties fashion has made a definite comeback, and Anderson’s distinctive style during that era has found a new fan base thanks to Gen Z. The hashtag #Pamcore, celebrating Anderson’s penchant for skinny brows and lip liner, statement hats, and lingerie as outerwear, has millions of views on TikTok. Anderson’s playful, confident looks are a natural fit for the exhibitionism of social media.
10. She’s a natural brunette.
Like many of the iconic blondes that came before her, Anderson is actually a brunette. She’s been dyeing her hair since age 20, and says, “I dye my hair myself! I couldn’t imagine sitting in a hair salon for hours.” Clearly, the surprisingly low-maintenance home-dye approach has worked well for her.