Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Pamela Anderson Was Told She Would Not Survive After Getting Hepatitis C from Husband: 'It All Was Very Scary'

Bettina Dizon
Apr 10, 2022
01:30 P.M.
Share this pen

Pamela Anderson had a tumultuous relationship with her first husband, from whom she contracted a life-threatening disease that put a timeline on her life.


Before becoming an actress, Pamela Anderson was a commercial model featured on Playboy magazine's cover. Known for her roles in "Home Improvement" and "Baywatch," Anderson was recognized for her volumized blonde hair and voluptuous figure. 

Career aside, Anderson was also known for hitting the front page of tabloids because of her personal endeavors and interesting marriages, which impacted her life in more ways than one. The "Stacked" star contracted a disease from her first husband, which she fought for decades despite doctors putting a timeline on her life.

(L) A portrait of Pamela Anderson, May 24, 1993. (R) Pamela Anderson during the 'Danse Avec Les Stars' photocall at TF1 TV studios on September 11, 2018 in Paris, France. | Source: Getty Images


Anderson was finally cured after 20 years, yet her ex-husband always denied allegations that her illness was passed from him.


Born Pamela Denise Anderson on July 1, 1967, the actress became a commercial model before gracing the cover of Playboy magazine. In 1991, she landed her big break on the sitcom "Home Improvement" and was eventually cast in "Baywatch."

The show quickly became the highest-rated program globally, launching Anderson into stardom. She appeared in the film "Barb Wire" and later became the executive producer and star of the series "V.I.P."


A portrait of Pamela Anderson, circa 1990. | Source: Getty Images

Anderson's other on-screen credits include the series "Stripperella," "Stacked," and the mockumentary "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."



In December 1994, following her fame from "Baywatch," Anderson met Tommy Lee, the man she would later call her husband. Their relationship quickly escalated, and six weeks later, they became husband and wife. She said at that time:

“It was really love at first sight. I only knew him four days before I married him.”

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson during an annual party on December 24, 2005 in Malibu, California. | Source: Getty Images


However, their relationship ended nearly as quickly as it began. In 1995, electrician Rand Gauthier stole a sex tape that the couple filmed during their escapade at Leak Mead. Although the footage did not spread as much as it would have in today's digital age, it reached thousands of viewers.

She compared the process to having the flu for a year and somewhat like undergoing chemotherapy where hair falls off, and she throws up.

Anderson and Lee immediately took action and filed a $10 million lawsuit to stop the tape from being published. However, the case was eventually dropped.

Pamela Anderson poses in a black bodysuit by the ocean. | Source: Getty Images


"I made not one dollar," Anderson said, as told by Us Weekly, and admitted to having never viewed the tape. "It was stolen property. We made a deal to stop all the shenanigans."

Tension grew between the couple until the musician was accused of spousal battery in 1998. Lee did not understand why his ex-wife pressed charges and assumed she was scared, thinking she was "doing the right thing for their kids." He said:

“She probably wanted an easy way out of a difficult situation. As much as I loved Pamela, she had a problem dealing with things.”

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson during an annual party on December 24, 2005 in Malibu, California. | Source: Getty Images


After three years and two kids, Brandon and Dylan, the couple went separate ways after their wedding. Although they tried to rekindle the flames in 2008, they officially parted in 2010. According to Anderson, Lee was the man she loved most. She said:

“There was Tommy, and there was nobody else. He was the love of my life. We had a wild and crazy beginnings that was too much for both of us [sic].”


Pamela Anderson during the amfAR Cannes Gala 2019 at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 23, 2019 in Cap d'Antibes, France. | Source: Getty Images


In 2002, Anderson revealed the news that put her on the headlines of tabloids yet again. She contracted a severe liver disease called hepatitis C and received treatment at UCLA Medical Center. Then 34, she said:

“I contracted hepatitis C while sharing a tattoo needle with my ex-husband, Tommy Lee. Tommy has the disease and never disclosed it to me during our marriage.”

Meanwhile, Lee's publicist, Beth Katz, claimed that Anderson's accusations were due to the custody battle for their sons. "Her actions today are a clear attack on Tommy, and hopefully, she will realize that she is only doing more harm to her children and herself [...]," Katz said. She also denied that Lee had the disease.


Pamela Anderson during the Brigitte Bardot Foundation event on February 14, 2008 in Paris. The actress joined in a protest with PETA , which has organized protestsat Canadian Embassies worldwide, in condemning the hunt of seals in Canada. | Source: Getty Images

Anderson struggled with the disease for several years, and, at one point, it drove her crazy. According to the actress, she always had a heavy feeling in her heart and dark thoughts in the back of her mind. 


Anderson was told that she would not last very long during the onset of her disease. "Twenty years go, they told me I would die in ten years," she said, adding: 

“Ten years into that, they told me I would be able to live with it and probably die of something else, but it was all very scary stuff.”

Pamela Anderson during the 5th Annual Producers Ball presented by Scotiabank in support of The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Royal Ontario Museum on September 11, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Getty Images


The actress had to take a year off from acting to undergo treatment involving Interferon and other medication.

She compared the process to having the flu for a year and somewhat like undergoing chemotherapy where hair falls off, and she throws up. "I want to do it for my kids because I don't want to die," she said.


After two decades, Anderson announced that she had finally been cured and could live her everyday life peacefully. Anderson completed a 12-week regimen with a medication called Sovaldi, costing about $100,000 before she was healed.


Pamela Anderson during the Gala of the Mon Cheri Barbara day in the old Bayerische Staatsbank. | Source: Getty Images

Admittedly, Anderson said, "I'm going to go crazy, especially with activism," during her recuperating years. She added:


“It has been 20 years, and I always felt this little dark cloud hanging over me.”

Anderson has been a vegan PETA advocate who shares environmental issues throughout the years. Particularly, she hopes people would realize that climate change is a pressing concern and do something about the current situation.

Pamela Anderson during the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2017/2018 on Intercontinental Paris Grand on March 4, 2017 in Paris, France. | Source: Getty Images



Years after Anderson's separation and struggle with the disease, she and Lee learned to make peace with their past and co-parent their kids. She said:

“We're good friends. We're getting better at co-parenting our kids. He's such a supporter of mine, and I'm really happy we're on such great terms."

Pamela Anderson with her two children, Brandon and Dylan, whom she shares with her first husband. | Source: Getty Images

Lee had also been cured of hepatitis about a year before his ex-wife. His life with Anderson has since been turned into a Hulu miniseries, directed by Lake Bell, who admittedly felt protective of the actress' story.