A History of Heather Locklear's Struggles Since Her Reign as Queen of the '90s

The past decade has been full of real-life drama for the actress, who was just arrested for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend

By Natalie Finn Feb 26, 2018 9:23 PMTags

Heather Locklear had run for president in the 1990s, she would have been Babe-raham Lincoln. 

The '00s, however, have been a little tougher for the actress, who ruled the police beat, the big hair and the boardroom on classic soapy series such as T.J. HookerDynasty and Melrose Place. Aside from popping up regularly in Aaron Spelling productions, Locklear was a modern-day pin-up icon, worshiped in Wayne's World (she subsequently made a cameo in the sequel) and considered just the spark a show needed to keep the rest of the cast on its toes.

While her conniving advertising exec Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place was considered a "bad girl" upon arrival, a nemesis for Courtney Thorne-Smith's nice-girl Alison, nowadays the take-no-prisoners Amanda would be treated more as an anti-hero, applauded for always going after what she wanted.

Off-screen, meanwhile, Locklear wasn't exactly a wallflower.

Stars' First Roles

Her career took off in 1982 when she was cast as determined police officer Stacy Sheridan on T.J. Hooker. Making the Hollywood scene she was romanced by fellow hot young things like Tom Cruise (he even busted out his Risky Business moves at a club), Mark Harmon and Scott Baio.

Ron Galella/WireImage

On May 10, 1986, about a year after they first met at an REO Speedwagon concert, the 24-year-old Locklear married 23-year-old Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee (who had been married once already) at the height of the band's fame—and they both had the best of intentions. They honeymooned in the Cayman Islands and moved into a mansion in the San Fernando Valley to start their lives together.

"I've only thought of getting married once," Locklear told People after the wedding at the Biltmore hotel in Santa Barbara. "I plan for this one to last."

It lasted seven years. The couple had fallen for each other hard and fast, with Lee having been smitten at first sight—but the hard-rocking lifestyle got the better of him and he reportedly cheated. "I made a big mistake," he acknowledged to People in 2005. He'd go on to have two children (and make an infamous sex tape) with ex-wife No. 3 Pamela Anderson and he's now engaged to 31-year-old Brittany Furlan.

They Dated? Surprising Star Couples

Despite how her marriage ended, Locklear was not deterred from dating rock stars. (And apparently it's all just water under the bridge, because in 2016 she posted a throwback pic with Lee on what would have been their 30th wedding anniversary.)

Steve Granitz/WireImage

A year after her divorce from Lee was finalized, she married Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora on Dec. 17, 1994. They welcomed daughter Ava Elizabeth Sambora on Oct. 4, 1997.

Locklear and Sambora carried on as one of Hollywood's most enduring couples, a rare rocker-actress union that worked...until it stopped working.

Locklear abruptly filed for divorce in 2006, shocking even their friends who thought, despite a few bumps in the road over the years, that they were still great together. (And apparently it shocked Sambora as well, because he denied the report that they were splitting up in an interview he gave on tour in Washington, D.C., on the day Locklear was filing the papers in L.A.)

But the story behind their split would become even more convoluted shortly.

MB Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

While she and Sambora went on to co-parent Ava and have long since settled into a friendship, Locklear was at first none too pleased when Sambora started dating her friend Denise Richards, who had divorced Charlie Sheen at around the same time as Locklear and Sambora split up. (Incidentally, Locklear starred with Sheen on Spin City.)

"I wish Heather well," Richards told People in 2006, insisting that nothing happened between her and Sambora until he was single. "Unfortunately our friendship had to dissolve and I'm sad about that. The last thing I would want to do is create a media frenzy like this, especially as I'm trying to get through a divorce."

The actress—who after Melrose Place ended joined the cast of Spin City from 1999 until 2002, starred on the short-lived Fox airport drama LAX and played Hilary Duff's mom in the rom-com The Perfect Man—went on to date David Spade and almost marry Jack Wagner, whom she had enjoyed a love-hate relationship with on Melrose Place.

In 2007 Locklear had numerous TV guest appearances, including on pal Spade's sitcom Rules of Engagement, but in 2008 she was forced to take a break and focus on herself. That March her psychiatrist called paramedics to her home, reportedly fearing she had taken an overdose of prescription medication. That turned out to be a false alarm, but in June she checked into an Arizona treatment center for anxiety and depression.

"She requested an in-depth evaluation of her medication and entered into a medical facility for proper diagnosis and treatment," her rep said at the time.

When she checked out four weeks later, a source told news agency Bang Showbiz, "Heather is feeling really great. And she looks beautiful, just radiant. She seems happier—she told a really funny story and she laughed from her core. That's when I knew she was going to be fine. I think that's the best part of all—it's so nice to hear her laugh." The insider noted that Locklear was mainly excited to get home to Ava, who was 10 at the time.

Santa Barbara Police Department

That September, however, Locklear was arrested for DUI and later charged with driving under the influence of prescription medication after a concerned bystander called police to report a driver behaving erratically, first in a parking lot and then nearby on the road. In January 2009, she pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless driving, avoiding a more severe charge, and was ordered to attend a 12-hour drug education course, fined $700 and sentenced to three years' informal probation.

In 2011 Locklear was arrested on a hit-and-run charge when she took off after hitting a parking sign with her vehicle, but was never prosecuted. 

Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Locklear and Wagner called off their engagement in November 2011 but the following month cops responded to a call about a physical altercation at Wagner's house. Authorities investigated and ultimately neither was arrested or charged—but about a week before the L.A. City Attorney came to that decision, Locklear was briefly hospitalized in January 2012 after being admitted in an "agitated" state. Her sister had called 911, telling the operator she was worried Heather might hurt herself.

"She's fine, she was mobile, she was walking, she was dressed, she was talkative and she'll have follow-up care through her personal physicians," a hospital spokeswoman told reporters when the actress was released. "Spirits were very good, she was calm and chitchatty. Her parents were very glad when the doctors decided she was well enough to be discharged."

While in hindsight that seems like a lot of on-the-record information from a hospital, at the time Locklear's family wanted to immediately clear up any rumors that she was suicidal or had tried to harm herself. It was soon reported that she had mixed her prescription medication with alcohol and her sister had worried she might do something to herself.

After the hospital scare, her family was reportedly hoping she would return to rehab but, a source told People, "they know that for her to get well, she has to want it for herself. She's the only one who can do it."


For the next few years Locklear seemed to get a handle on the chronic issues that had been plaguing her. She guest-starred on Hot in Cleveland, appeared in Scary Movie 5 and had a 10-episode arc on the TNT legal drama Franklin & Bash in 2013. She and Sambora were spotted together more frequently and were vacationing as a family with Ava.

"Time does heal old wounds. I mean, I still love Heather and I know she loves me," Sambora told People in 2014. "She's the mother of my child, man. What can you say?"

Locklear also started dating plastic surgeon Dr. Marc Mani, and she couldn't help but feel a little déjà vu when she was making headlines for her bikini bod once again in 2015.

Celebs' Favorite Bikini Shots

Toward the end of 2016 Locklear decided it was time for a timeout to focus on her health.

"I am feeling great and am taking steps to enrich and better my life," she said in a statement in early January 2017, responding to rumors that she was in rehab again. "Currently I am working on tying up some loose ends regarding certain issues so I can hit 2017 full steam ahead."

That March she again vacationed with Ava and Sambora in Hawaii. Ava enrolled at L.A.'s Loyola Marymount University and, having come up aces in the genetic game, started modeling once she turned 18.

In September, Locklear was treated for minor injuries suffered in a car crash near her home in Thousand Oaks; authorities were quick to clarify that neither drugs nor alcohol were involved.

"I'm home and good. Thank you for your concern!" she wrote on Instagram afterward. 

Toward the end of 2017, however, all seemed to be well. Earlier in the year she had reconnected with a high school sweetheart, Chris Heisser, posting none other than his yearbook photo (they apparently had the same hair dresser) in wishing him happy birthday last fall.

"Happy Birthday to My first love and final love. Forever isn't long enough. Meet you there in 2 days," she wrote, about a week after her car accident.

Publicly, they were still going strong in November. But apparently there were major issues behind closed doors.

Locklear was arrested and booked shortly after 1 a.m. this morning on a charge of felony domestic violence Sunday night, as well as three counts of misdemeanor battery on a peace officer.

"She was uncooperative with deputies and battered our deputies," a Ventura County Sheriff's Office spokesperson told E! News Monday. "We conducted an investigation into the original call of the domestic disturbance and determined she had battered her boyfriend...She claimed prior to our arrival that she had been battered or injured. Although we did not see any evidence of that, out of an abundance of caution, she was transported to a hospital for evaluation."

Heisser was then arrested separately at 12:43 a.m., according to public records, having been pulled over by California Highway Patrol. He was released at 8:14 a.m.

She was released from custody at 5:48 a.m. after posting $20,000 bail. A court date has been set for March 13. Heisser is due in court April 26.

Before the authorities arrived, "she was freaking out and texting her brother nonstop and wasn't making sense," a source told Entertainment Tonight, noting that Locklear has the full support of her family, who only want her to be healthy. "She grew up in Thousand Oaks and really did well in Hollywood, so she is the sweetheart of the family and they all rally around her. Her brother immediately headed over to the house. When he arrived, she and her boyfriend were fighting. It was a terrible scene."

Just two days ago Locklear had posted a photo of herself and her beloved dog, Mister, on a plane headed to Boston. Today, alongside the usual commentary from Internet trolls, fans were posting messages of support next to the picture.