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"Baywatch" icon Pamela Anderson on surviving paparazzi, tabloids, and the stolen sex tape

"Baywatch" icon and author-actress-model Pamela Anderson reveals details about the trauma she suffered as a child, her six marriages, and the infamous sex tape in an exclusive interview with Jim Axelrod for "Sunday Morning," to be broadcast January 15 on CBS and streamed on Paramount+.

Interviewed at her remote home on Vancouver Island, Anderson talks with Axelrod about watching her father drown her kittens, and punching him when he held her mother's head to the stove.  

"These were pivotal moments for me," Anderson says.  

Anderson is trying to put her past behind her, she said. She's also talking about her past in a new book, "Love, Pamela," and a Netflix documentary.

Pamela Anderson with correspondent Jim Axelrod.  CBS News

Anderson said her childhood was shaped by trauma, first from her abusive father. Then, she was sexually abused by a babysitter, someone she calls "a female predator, so that was tough to understand." She also said she was raped at 12, and then again at 14.

"The whole point is not keeping those secrets, or those things buried," Anderson told Axelrod.

Anderson survived those years, and became a household name between exposure on 14 covers of Playboy magazine, movies, and the TV series "Baywatch." She also gained national notoriety in 1996 when a sex tape she made with her then-husband, Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, was stolen and made public. 

What does she want people to know about the tape? "That it was stolen property, that it was two crazy naked people in love," she said. "I mean, we were naked all the time and filming each other and being silly, but those tapes were not meant for anybody else to see. And I've not seen it to this day ... It was very hurtful."

She said it was focusing on her two young sons with Lee that helped her get through the tough times. "I was a mother. That saved me," Anderson said. "You know, if I wasn't a mom, I don't think I would've survived."

Anderson also talks with Axelrod about her career, healing, and why she returned to Vancouver Island, far from Hollywood and the headlines that made her famous.

"I feel like I've left here, did something crazy and came back in one piece," Anderson said. "Like I said, I don't know what I'm capable of. I still don't know, but I think that was the beginning … all the rest of it, it's, you know, behind me. I feel like I'm in a really good place."

To watch a preview click on the video player below: 

The Emmy Award-winning "Sunday Morning" is broadcast Sundays on CBS beginning at 9 a.m. ET. "Sunday Morning" also streams on the CBS News app [beginning at 12 p.m. ET] and on Paramount+, and is available on and

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