Why you don't hear about Yasmine Bleeth anymore

The names Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff spring to mind whenever iconic lifeguard drama Baywatch is brought up — but when the show was at the height of its popularity in the 1990s, Yasmine Bleeth was just as famous. The New York born actor and model played Caroline Holden, the younger sister of Alexandra Paul's Stephanie Holden and best friend of Anderson's C.J. Parker. She made her big debut in the Season 4 episode, "Tentacles Part II," and remained a central part of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard team through to Season 8. She also portrayed Holden in the Hawaii-set TV movie, Baywatch: Forbidden Paradise (1995), and her character also popped up in Baywatch Nights (1995-1997), a short-lived spin-off series that took an ill-fated turn into science fiction territory. 

Basically, she was a household name at the time, but times have changed — and so has Bleeth. The former star is now in her 50s, and she looks dramatically different to her Baywatch days. The last time she played Holden was in 2003's Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding, a "melodramatic and overwrought" TV movie that featured "surprisingly little lifeguarding," according to DVD Talk. Soon after that, Bleeth fell off the radar entirely. She went from posing for magazine covers to complete obscurity when she hung up the red swimsuit, and she's rarely pictured in public nowadays. 

What prompted her abrupt exit from Hollywood? Here's why you don't hear about former Baywatch babe Yasmine Bleeth anymore.

Yasmine Bleeth was fired from her most iconic role

Yasmine Bleeth was hounded by the paparazzi during her time on Baywatch, when stories about her suspected drug use would fill countless tabloid column inches. Speaking to Cosmopolitan in 2017, Bleeth's former co-star Gena Lee Nolin (Neely Capshaw) said that she was often treated unfairly by the press. "It was absolutely nonstop," Nolin said. "I remember Yasmine Bleeth, she was at the payphone where we filmed — this was before cell phones — and she scratched her nose and the Enquirer had three pictures of her, like front cover, 'Yasmine Bleeth — there's drugs' or whatever. And at the time, when I knew her, there was none of that going on."

Some reports suggest that Bleeth's drug use didn't start until she moved onto crime drama Nash Bridges, but according to former producer Douglas Schwartz, the actor had substance problems during her Baywatch days, too. "We had one issue with Yasmine Bleeth, who was doing drugs at the time," Schwartz told Esquire, singling out her relationship woes as a possible trigger. "That's why we let Yasmine go off the show: because it was too difficult to deal with her after a while." 

The men's mag also spoke to former cast member Traci Bingham (Jordan Tate), who wasn't exactly sympathetic when asked about Bleeth's plight: "Yasmine Bleeth and the whole cocaine thing, who does that? Really? To the point where she's so out of the business now. Completely M.I.A."

Yasmine Bleeth 'looked like an alien' during her drug battle

The way Yasmine Bleeth tells it, she wasn't fired from Baywatch, she simply took up another offer when her contract ran out. She moved to the Bay Area to play San Francisco P.D. Inspector Caitlin Cross on Nash Bridges, and that's where she claims her cocaine habit exploded. 

Bleeth was dating Richard Grieco at the time (she was with the 21 Jump Street star from 1996 to 2000, according to Entertainment Weekly), and the long distance between them quickly exposed cracks in the relationship. Out of desperation, she turned to cocaine. "I just wanted to feel good again," she told Glamour in 2003 (via Baywatch TV). "And I knew an easy way to get that feeling."

For a while, she was a casual user of the drug, but things took a turn for the worse after she started taking it when home alone. Before long she was getting bags of cocaine dropped off at her door as if she were "ordering Chinese food." Bleeth's addiction spiraled out of control and began to take a real toll on her physical appearance. "By the end of 1999, I'd stopped looking like myself," she said. "I'm a fleshy girl, very curvy and round, but I'd lost my softness. My friends said I looked like an alien, that my eyes were bulging out of my face. I wasn't anorexic-looking, but instead of being a size 6 with a 29-inch waist, I was 110 pounds and a size 0."

Yasmine Bleeth's team allegedly ignored her cocaine use

Yasmine Bleeth went into her turbulent past in great detail during her candid interview with Glamour. The troubled actor claimed that she had never taken drugs on the job, but she couldn't deny that her addiction had a major impact on her career. 

"Because I was doing them until 6 a.m., I'd still be high during the day," she recalled (via Baywatch TV). "Sometimes I'd be so exhausted that I'd fall asleep in my trailer and someone would have to come get me." Why didn't Bleeth's colleagues see the red flags? According to the actor herself, they did see them, but they simply ignored them. "I got a bloody nose on the set a couple of times, but the makeup artist would just hand me a tissue without saying a word and I'd clean it up," Bleeth said. Wiping away a bloody nose is one thing, but how did Bleeth and her team explain away the sniffles? Her constant cocaine-related sniffling was in danger of exposing her habit, so her publicist would apparently exploit the fact that she had some prior sinus problems: "'Yasmine just had an allergic reaction,' she'd say." 

According to one Nash Bridges set insider, Bleeth's cocaine addiction was common knowledge among those who worked on the show. "They were showing less of her full face," the source told People in 2001. "There's only so much makeup can do. Everyone knew she had a drug problem."

Doctors told Yasmine Bleeth she could have died

Yasmine Bleeth decided it was time to kick the drugs when she was confronted by her father, who found a bag of cocaine in her purse when he visited her after a photo shoot. She rejected his help and avoided him for months while she finished shooting her last contracted season of Nash Bridges. She returned to Los Angeles after that, and her dad was waiting for her at the airport. 

"He took one look at me and started to cry," Bleeth told Glamour (via Baywatch TV). "Seeing the expression on my father's face and knowing his heart was being ripped out of his body — that was the first time I was truly confronted by how I was affecting other people."

Her father begged her to let him help, and Bleeth agreed. He took her to a doctor, who told the actor that she had been playing a dangerous game. "I had an infection that had completely eaten out the inside of my nose, leaving it raw and bloody," the former addict revealed. "The doctor put a small camera in my nose and showed me a hole in my septum between the bridge of my nose and the tip — it was about the size of a dime." The doctor informed Bleeth that had the infection gone untreated it could have progressed to her brain and killed her. "That scared me," she said. "At least until I started doing drugs again six weeks later."

Yasmine Bleeth collapsed during a photo shoot

Within a month of breaking her six weeks of sobriety, Yasmine Bleeth was back to doing cocaine daily. She started work on NBC's prime time soap Titans in July 2000, by which point her habit had once again taken over — she was in so deep at this stage that she would sometimes stay up for four nights straight. Her career was suffering, and she would be dealt another big blow in September of that year when she collapsed during a photo shoot after an all-night coke session. 

"I was so excited," she told Glamour (via Baywatch TV). "Yet at four'o'clock in the morning on the day of the shoot, I was doing cocaine. At five o'clock, I was doing damage control, leaning over the bathtub, steaming my face to fix it."

Bleeth managed to get through the hair and makeup process without incident, and she was happy with the "gorgeous" dress that photographer Walter Chin was going to shoot her in. Things went downhill fast when the shoot began, however. "I felt wobbly and weak and closed my eyes while he was changing film," she recalled. "Then Walter turned a huge fan toward me and the breeze literally knocked me over." When she came around, she was sitting in the makeup chair, surrounded by concerned faces. Bleeth told them she just needed to rest for 30 minutes and she would be okay, but the magazine pulled the plug: "They postponed the shoot indefinitely."

The 'cocaine Robin Hood' visited Yasmine Bleeth

A friend came to collect Yasmine Bleeth after her photo shoot fainting episode. She drove the former Baywatch beauty home, put her to bed and left — but not before relieving her of a few items. "When I woke up, my car keys were gone and my wallet was missing," Bleeth told Glamour (via Baywatch TV). "When I looked in the drawer where I usually kept my drugs, I found only a note that said, 'I'm the cocaine Robin Hood, I took your cocaine and gave it to someone who really needed it — the toilet.' I still have that note." Bleeth's friend also made off with her address book, believing she wouldn't be able to score without it. "She didn't know that I had my dealer's number memorized."

It wasn't until a month after her visit from the "cocaine Robin Hood" that Bleeth got the motivation she needed. Two girlfriends showed up to offer some support, and their words deeply affected the struggling actor. "They just said, 'We really miss you, we're there for you and this is really hurting us,'" Bleeth recalled. "I'd already been confronted by my father; I didn't want to be confronted by them too." 

According to Bleeth, it was the fear of disappointing her friends that ultimately made her take the idea of rehab seriously. Her father managed to convince Titans producers to give her the time off, and she entered a California treatment facility.

Yasmine Bleeth found love in rehab

Yasmine Bleeth was given an extra two weeks off after her Christmas break from Titans, giving her enough time to complete a month-long rehab stint. She told Glamour that she was still using on the day that she entered the program ("I even did drugs in the town car on the way there," she admitted, per Baywatch TV), but she found the experience easier than expected. "Rehab was easy," Bleeth said. "There were only about twelve of us there, and I had a single room. We were on a tight schedule: up at seven o'clock every morning, doing chores like cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, then attending individual and group counseling sessions."

She didn't enter into rehab expecting to find a partner, but by the time she left the Promises clinic in Malibu, Bleeth was deeply in love. She met Paul Cerrito (who reportedly owned a strip club in Detroit) in the first few days, and it was love at first sight. Starting a relationship with another program participant is frowned upon, but Bleeth knew that she had found the one. "What can I say? We fell in love immediately," she said. "Nothing used to make me feel as good as cocaine until I fell in love. Now the feeling I have when I'm with Paul is better than how I felt on cocaine." 

According to Entertainment Tonight (via People), the happy couple exchanged vows at a low-key wedding in 2002.

Yasmine Bleeth crashed a rental car while high

Yasmine Bleeth and her future husband had been due to fly from Detroit, Mich. to Los Angeles the day of the September 11 terrorist attacks. With the airports closed, they made a bad decision — they bought some drugs and checked into a hotel. "The next evening, I was still high when, around 9:30, the two of us got into our rental car," Bleeth confessed to Glamour (via Baywatch TV). The consequences were devastating for her already eroding career. The former pin-up lost control of the vehicle and slammed into the median, and before she knew it, there was an ambulance and several cop cars on the scene. "It hadn't even crossed my mind that they might know who I was," she said, "until I heard my name over the radio: 'It's Yasmine Bleeth.'"

What happened next was a moment she will never forget. According to the Associated Press, police found four syringes containing what appeared to be liquid cocaine in her purse. Bleeth confirmed that she was high — and then acted incredulously when she was arrested: "I remember saying, 'But I didn't hurt anybody, you're arresting me?' Then it occurred to me: oh, that's right, drugs are illegal. That's the scary thing: I'd really forgotten that what I was doing was illegal." 

The crash made Bleeth and Paul Cerrito reevaluate things and ultimately saved their relationship. "The only reason Paul and I are together today is because we had some divine intervention: our accident," Bleeth said.

Yasmine Bleeth hasn't had an acting job for a very long time

Yasmine Bleeth made a number of film appearances in the late '90s as she attempted to parlay her TV success into a career in the movies. Unfortunately, the performances she turned in didn't really impress the critics — and they absolutely hated one in particular. 

Bleeth's turn as Trey Parker's love interest in 1998 comedy BASEketball was widely derided. The film scored mixed reviews across the board (audiences were a lot fonder of the wacky sports comedy, which has slowly gained a cult following in the years since), but Bleeth's character, Jenna Reed, seemed to rub everyone up the wrong way. She was nominated in the worst actress category at Golden Raspberry Awards the following year, losing out to all of the Spice Girls for their performances in Spice World.

Her career stalled when Titans didn't get picked up as a regular series in late 2001, and before long, Bleeth had become a ghost. She was working on a horror movie called Beautiful Evil with Tommy "Tiny" Lister at one stage, but it never saw the light of day. Her last completed credit listed on IMDb is the nigh-on unwatchable Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding (2003). It's unclear whether she left Hollywood to recover, or if the roles simply dried up as a result of her personal woes (or both). It's a tough business, but given everything she's been through, the fact that she's no longer landing roles shouldn't really come as a surprise.

Yasmine Bleeth finally came out of hiding

It shouldn't be forgotten just how influential Yasmine Bleeth was at the apex of her powers. She wasn't exactly on track to win an Oscar, but she made FHM's 100 Sexiest Women In The World list every year between 1996 and 2001 (via the Daily Mail), and those kinds of accolades carry prestige in their own way. She was the type of actor that men wanted and women wanted to be, but even if Bleeth's career hadn't been totally derailed by the drugs, there's not exactly a variety of roles for middle aged females in Hollywood, and that's exactly what Bleeth is. The former sex bomb looks more like someone's friendly mom these days, and there's plenty of pap shots to prove it.

After years away from the spotlight, cameras began catching glimpses of Bleeth in 2015. In January of that year, she made a public appearance at the 55th annual Penguin Plunge in Venice Beach. According to Us Weekly, that marked the first time she'd been photographed by the paparazzi since she attended Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro's engagement party back in 2003. She's been seen on just a handful of occasions since then, sometimes with her husband (she and Paul Cerrito were photographed out and about in Hollywood, per the Daily Mail), and sometimes with her four-legged friend. Bleeth and her dog were snapped while on a walk in Southern California as recently as February 2020, according to Page Six.

Recovery is a lifelong battle for Yasmine Bleeth

As any star who has battled drug addiction will tell you, recovery is a lifelong battle. There will always be temptations when you're working in Tinseltown, where residents have been known to take up new hobbies just to overcome their urges: former addict Samuel L. Jackson found solace in golf, for example. For Yasmine Bleeth, it's about "enjoying the simple things again." When the recovering actor sat down for her in-depth interview with Glamour (via Baywatch TV), she told the mag that she was finding renewed joy in "being social, sleeping in [and] curling up in a big down comforter," saying, "When I was taking drugs, I lost my love for all that."

She's happy to have found some stability, but staying clean has been a real "struggle" for her over the years. Bleeth revealed that she finds things like going to clubs difficult because she relates "happy feelings" to cocaine. Every time she almost talks herself into using again, she reminds herself of where one line will lead. "I mentally walk myself through the entire scenario, the end result of which is me alone in my apartment, not speaking to my friends, not speaking to my family. And probably without my husband." 

Through all the ups and downs Bleeth has learned one important lesson: she can't truly experience love when she's under the hold of drugs. "Every day I have to make the choice again," she said. "So far, I choose love."