The glamorized lifestyle of California lifeguards on Baywatch had fans swooning from the late ’80s to the early 2000s. Jam-packed with bronzed beauties, tight swimsuits, and sunny beach days, fictional Los Angeles County beach patrol stole hearts the second Pamela Anderson ran in slow-motion.
Baywatch quickly became so popular that several direct-to-home videos were created along with a spin-off series. The show was canceled after its first season, but lucky for fans a certain Hasselhoff swam out to the drowning television series and pulled it back to safety. What a guy.
1. David Hasselhoff (Lt. Mitch Buchannon)
The seasoned, attractive Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon was the veteran lifeguard of the group who oversaw his younger colleagues. David Hasselhoff saved the show from a season one bust. The first season of Baywatch was 74th in ratings and NBC nearly canceled it before Hasselhoff stepped in.
The actor took a pay-cut per episode so that show creators could bring Baywatch back for syndication. In exchange, Hasselhoff would receive a higher percentage of profit if the show turned out successful. The move was an unmitigated success becoming a massive hit, both domestically and abroad. In addition to acting, Hasselhoff had a successful career as a singer— gaining success mainly in Germany and Austria. Actual footage from one of his concerts was used in the Baywatch episode “Second Time Around” in season 4.
Before Baywatch, Hasselhoff starred in Knight Rider as Michael Knight, the loner operative with a radical talking car for a sidekick. In 2011, Hasselhoff was awarded the Guinness World Record for “The World’s Most Watched Man on Television.” Hasselhoff has continued acting over the years and appeared as a judge on America’s Got Talent (2006).
Today, Hasselhoff is in his late sixties and is still acting. His most recent appearances in 2021 include Young Sheldon and The Helgason Show. Most of the time he appears as some version of himself, The Hoff.
2. Pamela Anderson (Casey Jean Parker)
The sexy, bombshell Casey Jean, aka “CJ” Parker, helped make Baywatch a must-watch, and in turn, became an international sex symbol. Many of the lifeguards were played by former Playboy models.
Post-Baywatch, Anderson appeared in 88 episodes of V.I.P. from 1998-2002. Then she once again got a shot at championing her own show in the short-lived 2005 show, Stacked. Anderson is a huge advocate for animal rights and the environment. She has worked with PETA for several decades.
Today, Pamela Anderson is in her early fifties and was last in the 2017 Baywatch spin-off film. She’s also released three autobiographical books and two novels.
3. Alexandra Paul (Lt. Stephanie Holden)
Lieutenant Stephanie Holden is the love interest of Buchannon. She auditioned for CJ and Summer but after not being right for either role, producers created Holden just for her. Paul’s contract stated that she didn’t have to wear the typical red suit like the other lifeguards, but she chose to.
Did you know the iconic red suits were almost blue, but the idea was scrapped when the cast members blended in with the ocean? The suits were designed by a competitive swimming company. Each suit was tailored specifically to show off each model’s body and their names were written on the inside. Once a cast member was fitted for their suit, they were not allowed to gain weight. The rule applied to both the male and female cast.
Tragically, Alexandra Paul’s character is killed in a boating accident. It was actually Paul’s choice to be written off the show. The actress went on to appear in loads of other projects, highlighted by 8 episodes of Melrose Place in 1999, and an episode of Mad Men in 2008. But most fans remember her from Baywatch, or from one of her first roles, in John Carpenter’s horror film Christine.
Alexandra Paul is also an outspoken activist who has been arrested for protesting more than a dozen times. She is a vegan and has driven an electric car since 1990. Today, Paul is in her late fifties and we last saw her in the 2020 comedy, Pink Skies Ahead where she got to act with the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler.
4. Gena Lee Nolin (Neeley Capshaw)
Neeley Capshaw entered the picture when Pamela Anderson left the show. Producers wanted another blonde bombshell to replace her and they found The Price Is Right model, Gena Lee Nolin. The only problem was that Nolin wasn’t an actress. In fact, she had terrible stage fright. So producers signed her up for hypnotherapy, which helped her calm down enough to film her scenes without panicking.
After Baywatch, Nolin starred as the titular Sheena, Queen of the Jungle for two seasons beginning in 2000. She also posed for Playboy in 2001 and that same year named one of FHM’s sexiest women in the world. In 2013, she published the book: Beautiful Inside and Out, Conquering Thyroid Disease with a Healthy, Happy, “Thyroid Sexy” Life.
Today, Nolin is 49 years old and doesn’t act much, but is slated to reunite with her Baywatch brethren for the upcoming comedy, The B Team.
5. Yasmine Bleeth (Caroline Holden)
Caroline Holden was shy and seductive. Unlike some of her costars, Bleeth wasn’t afraid to get in that water. Unfortunately, California beaches can get very cold and the water was often around 60 degrees. Yasmine once even came down with hypothermia. Fun Fact: In the hugely popular show, Friends, the character Chandler briefly renamed their pet Duck ‘Yasmine’. Actor Matthew Perry would go on to date Bleeth for a short time in 1996.
Bleeth’s first acting job was in a Johnson & Johnson commercial for baby shampoo at only ten months old. Her first major casting placed Bleeth in 96 episodes of Ryan’s Hope in the late 80s. Yasmin also appeared on Nash Bridges in the late 90s.
Bleeth struggled with cocaine addiction in the early 2000s but eventually checked into a rehab facility after a car crash. She fulfilled her probation in early 2004 and has stayed off drugs since. Bleeth is a huge supporter and spokesperson for the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation. Her mother passed away from the disease at the age of 47 when Yasmin Bleeth was a child. The actress also donated $10,000 that she won on Celebrity Jeopardy! to the foundation.
Today, Bleeth is in her early fifties and hasn’t acted since the 2003 reunion project, Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding.
Fans can’t forget about the final seasons of The Guards of Baywatch: Hawaii. In this, the lifeguards swapped the red suits for neon yellow ones to resemble the real lifeguards in Hawaii. A young Jason Momoa, aka Aquaman, joined Brooke Burns for this short-lived spinoff. However, the show was canceled due to poor ratings. There were also 3 direct-to-video movies, but only one happened after the original show concluded. This was titled Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding and aired in 2003.
In 2017, Baywatch was reprised for a new feature film that follows a similar plotline to the original series. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is Mitch Buchannon, Zac Efron as Matt Brody. There’s a CJ, the whole lot. The new rendition of the film strays from the original, but it’s full of laughs and swimsuits all the same.
Baywatch was a one-of-a-kind show for sure. Recently, a documentary called Baywatch: The American Dream was created. The documentary’s creators gathered the original cast and had them reminisce on their time spent on the beach in the iconic suits. The documentary explores the cultural impacts of one of the most-watched shows of the 1990s and is set to release in the summer of 2021. David Hasselhoff summed it up best saying, “Heart, humor, and action! Baywatch forever!”
So tell us, Who was your favorite lifeguard of the many revolving characters? Did you prefer the California beaches or Hawaii? Has anyone seen the recent 2017 Efron flick?