The surprise stars of ‘Baywatch’ past: From Brooke Burns to Jason Momoa
With a cinematic, comedic adaptation of sunkissed beach drama “Baywatch” starting international rollout the week of May 10, and launching in United States theaters from May 25, we recall six stars who made their breakthroughs in the original TV series.
David Hasslehoff will forever be associated with Baywatch, having led its original TV run for the ten years between 1989 and 1999, and staying on for another two seasons of “Baywatch Hawaii”.
He was already a star, coming in from fellow TV weekly “Knight Rider”, but the show has also proven a surprise launchpad for a number of other unknowns.
Of them, Jason Momoa’s rise to fame is the most remarkable.
Momoa’s screen debut was through the show’s final two seasons, for which it moved from Los Angeles County and was renamed “Baywatch Hawaii”.
There he played fresh-faced lifeguard Jason before appearing in sci-fi series “Stargate Atlantis” as military specialist Ronon Dex.
It was a two-season run as “Game of Thrones” imposing warlord Khal Drogo that made him a household name; Momoa pivoted into film with the title role in a reboot of the iconic “Conan the Barbarian”, and is now part of Warner Bros’ DC comics universe as Aquaman, already seen in “Batman v Superman” and booked for November 2017’s “Justice League” ensemble.
At this point he looks to be the show’s biggest breakthrough success; glamour model Pamela Anderson was the most well-known pin-up of “Baywatch”, following her five-year involvement between 1992 and 1997.
Kelly Slater lent waterborne credibility to the show’s opening and has gone on to clinch a record 11 World Surf League Championship titles between 1992 and 2011.
And while Brooke Burns transitioned to sitcom “Just Shoot Me” and then, like Momoa, the short-lived “North Shore”, she then became a notable game show host, thanks to “Dog Eat Dog” after “Baywatch Hawaii” ended, and more recently on “The Chase”, receiving a nomination to the Daytime Emmys as a result.
Notable also had been Australian actress Simmone Jade MacKinnon who, returning to her homeland and as a core cast member on rural drama “McLeod’s Daughters”, received six Logie Award nominations over six seasons.
But it’s former model Angie Harmon who is currently enjoying the richest run of TV form post-“Baywatch”, stepping from four years as Abbie Carmichael in “Law & Order” to lead crime drama “Rizzoli & Isles” over its seven-season lifetime. JB