Lesser-Known Facts About “Baywatch”

7 minute read

By Jonny Hughes

After the release of the forgettable Baywatch movie that hit theatres in 2017, more attention than ever has been thrust on the once-popular action drama TV series about L.A County lifeguards. The original show, which ran throughout the ’90s, starring David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, is famed for slow-motion running in red-swimsuits, dramatic interpersonal relationships, and extreme threats that included shark attacks, earthquakes, and even serial killers. Cheesy, entertaining and iconic, Baywatch might be one of the most legendary TV shows of all-time.

Here are 10 lesser-known facts about the original show. Enjoy!

10. The Iconic Slow Motion Shots Were Inspired By The Olympics

Baywatch is particularly famous for the slow-motion shots of the attractive cast members running on beaches in their iconic red swimsuits, coming to save the day. This became a trademark visual throughout the course of the show, but the idea to use these shots first came from a producing partner of creator Michael Berk, who had been filming the 1988 Olympics using slower frame rates to capture the runners. As we have all seen with sprinters and in other sports, this often results in tremendous imagery, which translated perfectly well to Baywatch, with all the cast members in terrific shape. As Chandler Bing (a huge fan of Baywatch) once stated on Friends, “Well that’s the brilliance of it. The pretty people, and the running”. There was another, even sneakier reason for the shots, though, as David Hasselhoff has also stated that often they were used to pad out episodes that were running short.

http://blavity.com/6-mindful-tips-meditation-running/ Source: blavity.comSource: Screenshot via NBC

9. Khal Drogo Appeared As A Lifeguard

Although the character of Khal Drogo did not last too long on Game of Thrones, he quickly became a fan favorite, largely due to Jason Momoa’s well-done portrayal. But not many know that years ago, Momoa was riding a jet ski instead of a horse, as he landed a role in the spin-off show Baywatch Hawaii in 1999, at the young age of 19 years old. Momoa has previously stated that landing the role was not the big break that he had hoped for. He went on to explain that he could not find an agent for four years after the show, and he believes that this was because nobody took Baywatch seriously, with everyone thinking that he was nothing more than a “pretty boy”. While he is still known for his looks, Momoa has also proven his acting abilities, both on Game of Thrones, and as Arthur Curry/Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

Source: Screenshot via NBC

8. Contracts Stipulated That Nobody Could Gain Weight

Baywatch is known for having attractive cast members running around in slow motion in form-fitting swimwear, which evidently was very important to the show’s success. Alexandra Paul, who played Stephanie Holden in seasons 3-7, revealed to Esquire magazine that her contract stipulated that she was not allowed to gain any weight while appearing on the show. Although she originally thought that this was just for the women of the show, she soon found out that this was also included in all of the male performers’ contracts too. While Baywatch was neither the first nor last TV show to rely heavily on the attractiveness of its cast to keep viewers tuning in each week, it appeared to be particularly important to this show in particular, likely due to the cast being constantly dressed in revealing swimwear.

Source: Screenshot via NBC

7. 40 Bottles Of Sunscreen Were Used Each Month

Filmed on the extremely sunny beaches of Los Angeles County, it was important for the show to take precautions against having the cast spend such long hours shooting in the blazing sun. After all, while the crew could somewhat protect themselves, the cast members were the ones showing skin and spending lengthy periods of time out in direct sunlight. Joanna Connell, the show’s makeup artist, revealed that they would use 40 whole bottles of sunscreen every month to protect their stars from sunburn and melanomas. With 242 episodes in 11 seasons spanning over a decade (including Baywatch Hawaii), that is an incredible amount of sunscreen to use. However, protection from the sun is extremely important, particularly when individuals are exposed to it for as long as these actors will have been.

Source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

6. A Real Lifeguard Was Cast And Helped With Plot Details

Fans of the show will fondly remember the mustachioed lifeguard Michael Newman, who was actually played by a real Los Angeles County lifeguard named, you guessed it, Michael Newman. Originally hired as a consultant due to his 20 year experience patrolling the beach, Newman was quickly cast in the show due to his expertise and ability to perform stunts, instruct cast members on rescue protocol and also to help to develop story plots (many rescue scenes were re-enactments of rescues that he had participated in throughout his career). He remained with the show throughout its entire run and earned a spot in the opening credits in 1996. He quickly became an international star and even had his own official fan club at the height of his fame.

Source: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

5. Pro Surfer Kelly Slater Was A Cast Member

In the third and fourth seasons, legendary surfer Kelly Slater was cast in the show as a talented surfer with big dreams named Jimmy Slade. Jimmy lived alone on the beach in his van and had a relationship with Summer Quinn (played by Nicole Eggert), before realizing his goals of becoming a professional and leaving for Hawaii. As it turned out, Slater asked to be written out of the show, as he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the ludicrous plotlines, plus his actual surfing career was blossoming. Speaking to GQ, Slater stated “I’d be like, ‘What!? there’s an octopus that’s stealing surfboards and hiding them in a secret cove and I’m going to fight him in the next show? Who writes this s***?’” Slater went on to become the World Surf League Champion a record 11 times, becoming both the youngest and oldest person to win that title.

Source: AP Photo/Felipe Dana

4. David Hasselhoff Cut His Salary For The Show

Although it is now deemed an iconic TV show, Baywatch was not always hugely successful, particularly in the early days. The show was canned by NBC after just one season in 1989 due to poor ratings, but its popularity in the U.K and Germany convinced creators Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz and Gregory Bonann (a veteran lifeguard and director/producer/writer) to revive the show for syndication. In order for this to be possible, David Hasselhoff volunteered to take an enormous pay cut to free up cash for the show. The show managed to find new success domestically and abroad, and The Hoff was awarded the title of Executive Producer and a greater share of the profits for his selfless act. The show ran from 1991 through to 2001 with a large, rotating cast and even a setting overhaul in 1999, when it became known as Baywatch Hawaii.

http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/david-hasselhoff-returns-to-the-beach-for-dwayne-johnsons-baywatch-movie/ Source: wegotthiscovered.comSource: Screenshot via NBC

3. Leonardo DiCaprio Was Almost Cast As Hobie

Although iconic and beloved around the entire world, Baywatch was definitely not a show known for its acting. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the most celebrated actors of recent times, very nearly appeared in the show in a recurring role. He impressed the producers of the show when he auditioned to play Hobie Buchannon (son of Hasselhoff’s character Mitch), but in the end, the role went to Jeremy Jackson, debuting in the second season. Apparently, the show’s producers felt the then-15-year-old DiCaprio was too old for the role, so they handed it to Jackson, who was four years younger. Although it may have hurt at the time, we are sure Leo doesn’t mind too much now when he looks back at his extremely successful and celebrated career. In fact, shortly after being rejected, DiCaprio started his rise to fame by landing a role opposite Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Source: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

2. David Hasselhoff Did Not Want To Cast Pamela Anderson

When you think of Baywatch, the first two actors to spring to mind are probably David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. However, this was nearly not the case as producers of the show later revealed that The Hoff was not keen on casting the ex-Playboy model. Anderson’s character, C.J Parker, was not introduced until Season Three, and Hasselhoff was against casting Anderson in the first place, as he feared that her looks would upstage him and the focus would shift away from his character. Of course, this is exactly what happened, but Anderson also brought in many new viewers, and ratings even doubled after her sex tape with Tommy Lee went public. Over the course of Anderson’s time with the show, it was also revealed that Tommy Lee would go berserk when his wife had love scenes with David Chokachi (who played Cody Madison). It was said that the Motley Crue drummer previously broke windows and had to be escorted off-site by security.

Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

1. Hasselhoff And Anderson Made Cameos In The Film Remake

Two recognizable stars from the original show, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, appeared in the upcoming Baywatch movie, which is based on the original series. The film, which is directed by Seth Gordon, also stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Priyanka Chopra. The plot sees two unlikely prospective lifeguards attempt to land a job on a California beach, only for a local criminal plot to be uncovered, which threatens the future of the area. Johnson played Mitch Buchannon, whilst Rohrbach will be playing C.J. Parker, which was originally Hasselhoff and Anderson’s roles on the show.

Source: Screenshot via Paramount Pictures[

Jonny Hughes


Jonny Hughes has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2015.