It’s been decades since many of us last remember watching impossibly fit, tan young people running down a shoreline in siren-red bathing suits in slow motion. That’s all you needed to say for more than a billion viewers to tune into NBC’s Baywatch during it’s peak in popularity.
In the early to mid 1990s the show was the epitome of sexy, yielding 90s bombshells like Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra. And you can’t mention Baywatch without the grinning David Hasselhoff, who oozed machismo every time he saved someone from drowning (a lot of people kept drowning on that show).
But even though it’s been 30 years since the show premiered on NBC, its relevance to pop cultural remains sharp.
New generations of fans can now watch the show in its remastered version on Amazon Prime, the same way younger people discovered and inadvertently latched onto Friends.
Yahoo Canada caught up with several Baywatch cast members about their time on the show and their favourite moments from working on the beach.
Jeremy Jackson had the longest tenure on Baywatch, other than Hasselhoff. He appeared in seasons 2-10, playing the son of Mitch Buchannon and grew up on screen in front of audiences. By the end of his time on the show, Jackson had achieved teen idol status.
But his time on Baywatch was marred by drug addiction issues, and his struggle with sobriety has been documented in the media over the last 15 years. He told E! in 2012 that he had overcome his addiction following rehabilitation.
Now, Jackson works in the health and wellness space as a personal trainer and works with a cannabis company that sells CBD and hemp-based products.
Jackson told Yahoo Canada that although Baywatch was past its prime when it ended, it continues to resonate as it was “ahead of its time”.
“You see slow-mo on Instagram - but we were the first ones that did that,” he joked.
Family-friendly storylines about Hasselhoff being a single father hooked audiences early on, he said. “But it didn’t hurt that they were all good looking and in shape.”
With the Baywatch 30th anniversary coming up, Jackson is reminiscing about going to the beach everyday for work, and surfing on his lunch breaks.
Although much of the cast has remained close, some relationships have been stronger than others.
“I was very close with David Hasselhoff- I sang for his daughter at his birthday,” Jackson said.
Alexandra Paul famously began her career as a model, and then landed her first leading role in the horror film Christine (1983). She then was cast in several more movies throughout the 1980s before landing Baywatch in 1992, in the role of Lt. Stephanie Holden.
This year, Paul has shot three films and works as certified health coach, while running her own podcast.
Even though Paul has been involved in countless projects as an actor and producer, she said that Baywatch doesn’t feel that long ago.
“The universal appreciation of the show has aged like a fine wine,” she said, adding that she has a “warm, fuzzy feeling” when thinking about her days in the bright red one-piece.
“I think people all over the world have enjoyed it because it was beach, and beauties and rescues. We had a very young audience,” Paul said.
Storylines were kept innocent so it could air in a prime-time slot, “we weren’t even allowed to point guns at anybody,” she said.
Her favourite memories from that time involve working with Hasselhoff, who was an “amazing role model.”
“The lead actor really sets the tone for the show,” Paul said. “Hasselhoff was always so professional, he got up before the 6 a.m. call, he always knew his lines, and he was always on time and so nice to the fans.”
David Chokachi launched his acting career on Baywatch in 1995 playing Cody Madison, who eventually became a central cast member.
He told Yahoo Canada that it’s odd to think that Baywatch is having its 30th anniversary when it “really feels like yesterday”.
“I think the show is pretty timeless, even though we shot it in the 1990s, it still translates today,” Chokachi said..
“My daughter’s friends just figured it out recently and pull it up now. They’re obsessed with it.”
Although he has a TV pilot coming up, Chokachi’s first priority is raising his young daughter. But Baywatch is still on his mind (and not just because his Instagram is full of beach pictures).
According to Chokachi, the best scenes to shoot were underwater, especially when chasing bad-guys through the ocean, and working with Hasselhoff always made it hard to keep a straight face.
“[Hasselhoff’s] a fun loving, very positive guy, and the set would be that way because of him,” he said.
With shows from the 1990’s getting reboots, like Fuller House and BH: 90210, Chokachi said he’d be thrilled if Baywatch got the same treatment.
“For years I’ve been hinting at one of the producers, why don’t we do a reboot,” he said.
While Nancy Valen is best known for her role as Captain Samantha Thomas on Baywatch, she has a number of acting and producing credits under her belt.
Valen originally tested for the pilot episode, only to get cast later in the show’s run by season 7.
“I was a bit relieved, it was a lot of pressure to be running around in a swimsuit,” Valen said.
She is still acting and recently guest starred in the Fox drama 9-1-1, while working with a nutrition company to highlight the importance of wellness. The need to look “perfect” is something she’s felt for a long time.
“In our Baywatch contract, we couldn’t gain weight,” she said.
Even though that was a lot of pressure, she enjoyed waking up early to train with the other cast members on the show.
Valen revealed that everyone looked great in their bathing suits because they were tailored to each actor. The cast was also sprayed head-to-toe in body makeup.
Kelly Packard starred on Baywatch from 1997 to 1999 as April Giminski, but had actually played other characters on the show in earlier seasons.
Now, she is raising four children while starring in films for the Lifetime network.
According to Packard, fans still want to stream Baywatch because beautiful beaches, and people, never really get old.
“We’re ageless, we’re timeless, it speaks to everyone still,” she said.
Packard said no job no compares to working on a beach everyday with close friends.
“We were outside all day, everyday. I would ask to take the paddle board out or the Jetski out while working,” she explained.
“It was a real honour. I get asked all the time about being on the most watched show in the world, and I don’t think I realized it at the time because I was young, how impactful it was.”
Packard said that although she hasn’t heard of talks about a reboot, she would love to be a part of one as the original cast members “still look great.”
Blonde bombshell Erika Eleniak first made her film debut in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial as a young girl in 1982. She went on to play Shauni McClain in the early seasons of Baywatch. Eleniak was also known for being a Playboy playmate in 1989.
“There are certain shows in this lifetime that are just magic, no one can re-create it,” she told Yahoo Canada.
Eleniak said in the 90s and late 80s, you had cop shows and medic shows, but no show about lifeguards. It was originally a hard pitch to NBC as the network was more conservative back then, but the widespread appeal to the show is the break from reality.
“In California we’re used to our sunny days, the majority of the world is buried in snow, and rain, so that was a big escape,” she said.
Today, she works with kids who are in rehab and has upcoming TV projects in the works.
According to Eleniak, the best part about working on Baywatch was the closeness between cast and crew on set.
“I feel like we had such a camaraderie...we were just such a family and really cared about each other,” she said.
While Nicole Eggert has appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, she’s also known as a producer. As the 30th anniversary of Baywatch approaches, Eggert is producing a documentary about the show and why it’s had such staying power.
“I think what it boils down to is that there wasn’t anything like it on TV, there hasn’t ben anything like it on TV,” she said. “It was in a setting that was so beautiful and provided escapism for people who were not near the beach or living in cold weather.”
Something fans might not know is that they shot a lot of the show during chilly weather because the shots would look better.
Since Baywatch, where Eggert played Summer Quinn from 1992-1994, she is a mother of two daughter, one is an adult and the other is 8 years-old. Having her youngest start school has given her more time to produce the documentary.
Eggert believes a reboot of the show featuring new talent could be a hit, as it could feature more relatable plots than the movie 2017 Baywatch film starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
“I would love to see that - I would love to see that with a whole new young generation,” she said, adding people often include the hashtag #Baywatch on Instagram. “People still love it.”