Why did Pamela and Tommy get divorced?

The subjects of 'Pam & Tommy' have sparked many questions, including 'Why did Pamela and Tommy get divorced?'

Why did Pamela and Tommy get divorced? Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson seen during 1995 GRAMMY Awards - A&M Party in Los Angeles, California
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz / Getty)

The Hulu limited series Pam & Tommy comes to an end on Wednesday, March 9 and with the final chapter comes the end of Pam and Tommy's marriage—but why did Pamela and Tommy get divorced in real life? 

Though the miniseries, which centers on the high-profile 1990s sex-tape scandal featuring Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, famously did not have input from the subjects themselves—an in-the-works Pamela Anderson Netflix documentary will right that wrong—the last episode of Pam & Tommy offers inklings of what really went down in the marriage between the Playboy icon and her Mötley Crüe drummer husband.

In a late scene, a hotheaded Lee is seen screaming at his wife and trashing their living room before finally relenting to sign over rights of the sex tape to porn kingpin Seth Warshavsky. "It's over," Lily James' Pamela Anderson says in the scene, seemingly about more than just the scandal itself. The nine-months-pregnant Anderson is later shown changing her "Tommy" tattoo to say "Mommy." 

But what really happened to the '90s power couple and why did they split? Here's what we know. 

Why did Pamela and Tommy get divorced?

Though the sex-tape scandal undoubtedly put stress on the stars' marriage, it was not actually the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. Unfortunately, it was a case of domestic violence that rang the death knell for Pam and Tommy.

In February 1998, Lee was arrested for spousal abuse after leaving Anderson "with bruises, a torn fingernail and fear for the safety of her two sons," reported The Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab) at the time of the altercation. The LA Times said Lee kicked his wife while she was holding their two-month-old son "after she refused to call her parents and ask them not to come over to the couple’s home." 

Lee pleaded no contest to the spousal abuse charges against him (child abuse and firearm possession charges were dropped) and was sentenced to six months in the Los Angeles County jail. Anderson filed for divorce shortly after the incident and requested custody of their sons. 

However, after a newly sober Lee was released from jail four months into his sentence, the couple attempted reconciliation, which Anderson spoke about on a May 1999 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "Tommy and I are back together, working our family out. We're doing really well and our children are happy," she said. "It's been a long, hard year...and I want my family together and I want it to work."

The reunion spawned one of the couple's most iconic moments, those infamous red-carpet ensembles from the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. (Yes, the pink feathered hat.) Alas, the accord did not last forever. The tumultuous twosome split for the second time in 2001. 

But it wasn't their last attempt at getting back together. Pam and Tommy tried for the third time at romantic bliss in 2008, a year after Anderson had divorced musician Kid Rock and annulled her marriage from Rick Salomon. 

“We’ve only given it a try 800 times—801, here we go,” Lee told Rolling Stone (opens in new tab) back in '08. “Pamela and the kids have moved in with me. It’s awesome. It’s definitely working.” He added: “You can tell on the kids’ faces. They’re happy when we’re together.”

A friend of Lee's told People (opens in new tab): “They are two people who have been through a lot and know each other really well.”

The former spouses split for good in 2010.

How long were Pam and Tommy married?

"In 1995, I met Pamela Anderson, the woman who became my wife and with whom I share two beautiful sons," Lee wrote in his 2005 autobiography Tommyland. "But that's a story that deserves its own chapter, if not its own book."

After a whirlwind four-day courtship, Anderson and Lee married on the beach in Cancun in '95, much to the surprise of the Baywatch star's mother Carol Anderson, who told People (opens in new tab) at the time: "This was the first I'd heard of him. It is heartbreaking and shocking."

The actress and the rock star were married for three years, legally divorcing in 1998, though their relationship spanned decades.

Does Pamela Anderson have kids with Tommy Lee?

Anderson and Lee share two sons: actor Brandon Thomas Lee, now 25, and Dylan Jagger Lee, a 24-year-old model and musician. 

Despite four marriages for Lee and six for Anderson, Brandon and Dylan are both parties' only children.  

Pamela Anderson and her sons attend the Saint Laurent show at The Hollywood Palladium on February 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA

(Image credit: Lionel Hahn/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Heather Locklear and Tommy Lee marriage

Prior to his relationship with Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee's most publicized romance was with his second wife, actress Heather Locklear, best known for her Golden Globe-nominated role as Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place and as Sammy Jo Carrington on Dynasty. 

The couple married in 1986 and divorced in 1993, due to "Lee's ill-concealed on-the-road philandering," reported Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab)

Lee obviously went on to meet and marry Anderson, while Locklear had another high-profile romance with a rocker, marrying Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora. 

Is Pam Anderson still married to Dan Hayhurst?

As well as musicians Tommy Lee and Kid Rock, Pamela Anderson has been married to film producer Rick Salomon twice, producer Jon Peters and, most recently, bodyguard Dan Hayhurst, who she wed on December 24, 2020, on Vancouver Island. However, on January 21, 2022, the actress announced that she and Hayhurst were no longer together. 

Episodes of Pam & Tommy are available for streaming on Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in the UK.

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.