With a resume that has spanned decades, Locklear proves that she’s here to stay. But behind the talent, beauty, and fame, there have been some very painful, personal struggles that the actress has overcome. Let’s look at the highlights, challenges, and triumphs in the life of Heather Locklear.
How It All Began
Heather Deen Locklear (known now simply as Heather Locklear) was born on September 25, 1961, in Los Angeles, California. Locklear’s father Bill was a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps and later became an administrator for the University of California, Los Angeles.
Her mother, Diane, worked as a production executive, and, thanks to her mom’s work, Locklear was exposed to the world of showbiz at a highly-impressionable age.
The Highs Of High School
Locklear attended Newbury Park High School in Newbury Park, California. In high school, Locklear was well known for her bright personality and good looks. Her now-famous blonde hair often had her compared to stars such as 70s icon Farrah Fawcett.
Locklear was adored by her schoolmates and was repeatedly voted as Homecoming Queen. Among all of her admirers, there was one specific student whose eye she caught the most—and this first love would end up returning to her once more.
While she was in high school, Locklear started dating a classmate, Chris Heisser. Apparently, the two of them had a serious romance for some time, but unfortunately, as they prepared to leave high school, they parted ways.
Though they stopped seeing each other after graduation, years later, their paths would cross again.
So, who all has Locklear dated over the years after Chris Heisser? Though rumors have flown over the decades, Locklear has been linked to Scott Baio, Tom Cruise, David Spade, Mark Harmon, Richie Sambora, Marc Mani, and Tommy Lee.
Though these relationships did not work out for Locklear, her hope and undaunted pursuit of love throughout her life have been truly inspiring.
From Rejection to Redirection
After high school, Locklear headed to the University of California, Los Angeles, where her father worked as an administrator. While there, Locklear pledged for two sororities—Chi Omega and Delta Delta Delta—though, reportedly she was not accepted to either of them.
This then allowed her to shift her focus to modeling in her spare time, which became an important launching pad for her.
After graduating from UCLA, Locklear seriously set her sights on a career in acting. With her foot in the door from modeling, she began appearing in small parts in shows like "CHiPs," "240-Robert," and "Eight Is Enough" in the early 80s.
Locklear was willing to take on the smaller roles, knowing that they would be the building blocks for bigger career moves later on.
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before her dedication in her smaller roles began paying off. Locklear’s talent, personality, and good looks started drawing the attention of movie and TV producers throughout the industry. But it was one particular producer who would become the one to launch her into fame.
Legendary producer Aaron Spelling (creator of many hit shows such as "Beverly Hills, 90210") cast Locklear in two of his shows—"Dynasty" and "T.J. Hooker." And that’s when the door fully opened for Locklear.
Her 9 to 5
Locklear was thrilled to appear on "T.J. Hooker," a popular police drama starring William Shatner as a veteran police sergeant. She was a regular on "T.J. Hooker" until the show ended in 1986.
It was here that she took on a full-time role in the iconic daytime soap "Dynasty."
In the mid-1980s, Locklear stunned fans around the world when she started dating rocker and infamous ladies man Tommy Lee (drummer of the rock band Mötley Crüe). Locklear’s image was that of a wholesome, blond beauty, so it was a shock to her fans to see her on the arm of the wild and heavily tattooed musician.
And if they were shocked before, her fans were soon to be pushed over the edge when the two married in May of 1986.
End of a Dynasty
Around the same time, Locklear explored other roles, including the movie "The Return of Swamp Thing." It did quite badly and landed her a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. But the shame didn’t last long because, thanks to her role on "Dynasty," fans were committed to Locklear.
"Dynasty" aired its final episode in 1989 but remained a fan favorite for years to come. There was even a brief, four-hour miniseries in 1991 entitled "Dynasty: The Reunion."
A Fresh Start
At this time, Locklear had not appeared successfully on the silver screen, but she was still a TV queen. In 1993, she was presented with perhaps her most iconic role on another Aaron Spelling project: "Melrose Place." The show began as a spin-off of "Beverly Hills, 90210" but became a project all its own.
Locklear had the role of Amanda Woodward and initially signed for just four episodes. But the role was such a great fit for Locklear that she remained until the show’s end in 1999.
A Foundational Friendship
Within the scope of her career, Locklear had a meaningful relationship with the man who first saw her potential. Her friendship with producer Aaron Spelling was important to her both professionally and personally as she had starred in eight of his productions over the years.
This includes "Dynasty," "T. J. Hooker," "Matt Houston," "Fantasy Island," and "The Love Boat." Unfortunately, some of her other relationships were not as solid.
A Love Ends
Shortly after she was cast on "Melrose Place," Locklear announced another big change in her life. In 1993, Locklear and her husband Tommy Lee officially divorced after 7 years of marriage.
She admitted that she worked hard to keep her marriage afloat but that eventually, she was drowning in trying to maintain what must have been a strained relationship. But there was a new love in store for Locklear.
The Music Lover
It's clear from Locklear's relationship history that she has a fondness for the bad boy rocker type. After this fell apart with Tommy Lee, the actress found herself a new crush.
After her divorce wrapped up, a new famous rocker entered her life, and she was about to enter into a whole new chapter.
All About Rich
That famous rocker happened to be none other than Richie Sambora, best known as the guitarist for the band Bon Jovi. Their relationship took off at warp speed, and the two married less than a year later in Paris.
The pair seemed to be in a very stable place, and it also appeared that Locklear was about to further secure her TV career.
A Household Name
Around this time, Locklear was at her peak as Amanda Woodward on "Melrose Place." In 1994, she landed the coveted spot on the cover of "Rolling Stone," alongside fellow cast members Laura Leighton and Josie Bissett.
She also was awarded a spot on People Magazine’s list of “50 Most Beautiful People” in that same year (she was also on the list in 2001). But there was even more in store for her.
Golden Globes Galore
If you didn’t think Locklear was a talent on TV, this might change your mind. Over the years, she has been nominated for six Golden Globe awards, two Soap Opera Digest Awards, one TV Land award, as well as five Bravo Otto awards.
Along with her show ratings, it was these nominations that made Locklear a coveted actress for future projects.
After establishing herself as a TV star, Locklear began taking on many new roles. In 1994, she was the guest host on "Saturday Night Live," impressing viewers across the nation with her hidden comedic talent.
Fans really enjoyed getting to see Locklear in a new and unexpected role, especially in her "Wayne’s World"-inspired skit alongside Mike Myers. Yet, there was an even more meaningful role awaiting for her.
Her Favorite Role
As she was enjoying the expansion of both her roles and her fame, Locklear took on her best role yet—that of a mom. Locklear and Sambora welcomed daughter Ava Elizabeth into the world on October 4, 1997.
She was thrilled with her new role “God blessed me with an angel that walks this earth,” she gushed in an Instagram post about Ava. “Thank you, Ava, for all your goodness and strength. You are an inspiration, and I’m forever grateful for you.”
All Grown Up
Now in her early twenties, Ava Sambora is taking after mom and pursuing a career in acting. She first appeared on the silver screen in 2012 for Judd Apatow's "This is 40." A beautiful blonde like Locklear, she is also a model, and in 2010, she walked the runway for her father's clothing line at the Los Angeles Fashion Weekend.
She returned to the silver screen in 2020 with a small role in "A Dark Foe," directed by Maria Gabriela Cardenas.
The beloved "Melrose Place" finally ended in 1999, after seven seasons and five Golden Globe nominations—four of which belonged to Locklear. But TV wasn’t over for the well-established star. Her next starring role came alongside Michael J Fox and Charlie Sheen in the Political Sitcom "Spin City."
Locklear proved that her talents were transferrable and, while on the show, she even earned two Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series—Comedy.
The True Story
In 2004, E! featured their classic show series, "True Hollywood Story," which confirmed Locklear’s position as a true giant of classic American TV. This series is often a 2-hour special that deeply explores the personal lives of celebrities.
Typically, it is only reserved for those who are very well-known and established in the showbiz world. Fans from all over the world tuned in to get a glimpse into Locklear’s personal life story. But the real story was happening away from the cameras, at least for a time.
A Sad End
To her fans, Heather Locklear appeared to have it all: a dream career, international fame, and idyllic family life. But in 2006, this idealistic image came crashing down when she announced that she was divorcing her husband, Richie Sambora, after 11 years of marriage.
As much as Locklear’s rep requested privacy for the hurting star, celebrity lives rarely achieve it.
What Really Happened
Though Locklear at first desired privacy, she eventually shared more details about her split with Sambora as the proceedings went on. Apparently, she initially filed for sole custody of their daughter, with Sambora only having visitation rights.
Sambora then countered with a request for joint custody. He went further to petition to have the couple’s prenuptial agreement enforced—so that he would not be required to pay child support. Unfortunately, the split was fast becoming messy and complicated.
At the time that they originally announced their divorce, Locklear and Sambora had cited “irreconcilable differences” as the official reason for their split, suggesting the cause was solely between the two of them. However, rumors began surfacing that the real reason behind the split involved another woman.
The primary rumor was that Sambora had been unfaithful to Locklear—and not just with anybody. The woman was reportedly Locklear’s fellow actress and one-time close friend, Denise Richards. These sizzling rumors were only the beginning of a long-standing, infamous feud between the two women.
Heather Locklear and Denise Richards had been friends for a significant amount of time. They each were married to other celebrities (Locklear to Richie Sambora and Richards to Charlie Sheen). Both of their marriages fell apart around the same time, and the pain and devastation were only amplified by their friendship also disintegrating.
Richards had filed for divorce from Charlie Sheen just one year before Locklear and Sambora’s separation was announced, so the rumors became rampant about Denise’s involvement in the latter split.
After months of flagrant rumors and whispers from the tabloids, Denise Richards decided to address all of the speculations about her and Locklear’s dissolved marriages and friendship. Richards confessed to now being in a relationship with Sambora but claimed that the relationship began after his marriage to Locklear was already over.
She also claimed that there was no interference in Locklear’s marriage, but she also said that the two were no longer friends.
Locklear was ready to leave the pain in the past and focus on her life apart from Sambora and Richards. In 2007, her divorce from Sambora was finalized, and she wasted no time in moving on. Soon after the official split, she was seen stepping out with actor Jack Wagner, her former co-star and on-screen husband on the smash hit show "Melrose Place."
Locklear's love life once again seemed to be in a good place, but her career was another story.
After she began her relationship with Jack Wagner, Locklear relished having some peace in her personal life. Her focus had now shifted to her private life over her professional one, which did take a toll on her career. Her next few projects did not do as well as the ones she had previously been known for.
At this time, she starred in the NBC drama "LAX," which unfortunately was canceled after just one season. She also took on a pilot for an ABC sitcom called “See Jayne Run,” which was never picked up.
Locklear was definitely going through a rough season professionally. "LAX" was such a bomb in terms of ratings that Jay Leno even poked fun of it on “The Tonight Show,” saying that it was “so bad that the actual Los Angeles Airport is thinking of changing its name to avoid being associated with the show." Ouch.
Thankfully, Locklear’s fanbase and star standing in Hollywood were solid enough that her downturn would not last long. That same year, she landed on Entertainment Weekly’s list of “100 Greatest TV Icons”. But once again, now her private life was far from idyllic.
Private Problems Go Public
Despite surviving a hard season in her career, Locklear walked through a number of dark, personal struggles that were highly publicized. She had found love again with Jack Wagner, but the pain of her previous divorce was still causing her deep anguish. Locklear was no longer able to manage the emotional and psychological pain locked inside.
In both 2008 and 2009, there were reports of disturbances at Locklear’s home, and eventually, she checked into a medical facility in Arizona to help her address and recover from her pain. Locklear’s agent finally confirmed that she was suffering from anxiety and depression. She was to remain in treatment for four weeks. Once out, she was ready to jump right back into life.
A Welcome Return
After returning from treatment, Locklear didn’t slow down but was ready to take on more roles. She kicked off her return to TV on The CW’s updated version of the much-loved TV classic "Melrose Place" in 2009. To the delight of fans, Locklear reprised her original role as Amanda Woodward.
Sadly, the show ratings were not quite as high as the original, but for Locklear, this was an important, personal progression.
As she continued to put the pain of the past behind her, Locklear’s personal life was also moving ahead in a positive direction. In 2011, Locklear and Jack Wagner announced that they were engaged. She was especially glad that her daughter Ava was happy about their impending marriage.
Fans were also glad to see Locklear’s love life come together again, but unfortunately, this happiness would prove to be short-lived.
Sadly, even though Locklear and Wagner loved each other, their combined personal struggles proved too much for their long term relationship. Just months after announcing their engagement, the pair called off their wedding.
Locklear’s rep confirmed the dissolution of their engagement, and Wagner explained to TMZ that they had both decided that their children were too young to be put through such changes in their home life, though they still loved each other.
Once again, Locklear was publicly facing disappointment and heartbreak. Yet she remained strong and resilient, choosing to focus on her career —by throwing herself fully into her TV roles. Locklear soon took on a recurring role in the TV Land sitcom “Hot in Cleveland,” as well as a regular appearance in the comedy-drama “Franklin & Bash.”
However, though she began focusing more intently on her acting, Locklear’s dark struggles were about to be resurrected.
In 2012, reports surfaced that Locklear was again battling with her mental health. Her sister even called emergency services over her concern for Locklear’s emotional state and behavior.
It was announced that she had been attended to by an emergency medical team in her home and that she was later transported to Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California.
Love For The Fourth Time
After recovering from her relapse, Locklear again found love with Marc Mani. In 2013, she confirmed that she was dating the celebrity plastic surgeon. Mani had been on the showbiz circuit for several years and was even named “American’s Most Eligible Bachelor” in 2008 by Extra TV.
This seemed to be the right one for Locklear—until an unexpected former flame was rekindled once again.
In May 2016, after all of her struggles to find a love that lasts, Locklear found herself revisiting a long lost love. She was reminiscing about her first husband, rocker Tommy Lee, with whom she would have been celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary that year.
In a lighthearted display of endearment, Locklear posted about Lee on Instagram, with the provocative caption, "Happy 30 years baby." Fans were wildly intrigued, but Mani was not thrilled about a post referencing her ex. Unfortunately, the two split shortly after this.
Enduring yet another split was deeply devastating for Locklear, and she again began struggling with anxiety and depression.
In 2018, authorities again she was hospitalized and later sentenced to 30 days in a residential mental health facility. This was rock bottom for Locklear.
After Locklear completed her 30 days in the residential care facility, she firmly resolved to overcome her personal struggles and take charge of her life. She made good on her word to herself and, in April 2020, she celebrated one year of sobriety.
Her fans were delighted to see that she had finally overcome such a debilitating struggle and her fellow celebs were there to encourage her too.
A Show Of Support
There have been many stars who have endured both professional and personal struggles, all in the public eye. Locklear’s friends in show business could understand how much this milestone of sobriety meant.
Former Melrose Place co-star, Lisa Rinna, showed their love and support for Heather’s post as well as Laura Leighton. But there was a particular person showing support for Locklear that really drew special attention.
Her Original Love Story
The most intriguing show of support came from Chris Heisser, Locklear’s high school sweetheart. Apparently, he had still kept track of her after all of these years and, through all of her ups and downs, and had been cheering her on. And now, after her other relationships had not worked out, Heisser was there for her.
It seemed that a remarkable love story (her original love story) could once again unfold.
Chris Heisser Today
So, who is Chris Heisser today? Chris Heisser is a contractor and also used to partake in motocross racing. He is quite different from Locklear’s other flames in that he is not a musician, actor, plastic surgeon, or part of the Hollywood scene at all.
The two have had their difficulties, but yet their relationship seems to have endured the storms.
A Feud Laid To Rest
Another breakthrough occurred in Locklear’s life after her celebratory announcement of her sobriety. In August 2020, she announced that she and Denise Richards had managed to overcome their long time feud.
Media outlets announced that Denise had finally realized the part she played in the dissolution of Locklear’s marriage, and she apologized to her. Reportedly, the two were even able to begin to have a friendship again. And yet there was more wonderful news in store.
Her Next Career Move
Though her personal life has currently had more publicity than her career, Locklear still has a project coming up. After starring in "Too Close to Home" from 2016-2017, Locklear will next be seen in the horror film "Zombie Brothel," which is directed by Mark Behar.
Hopefully, there will be more exciting new projects for Locklear in the near future!
Wedded Bliss Once More
After her endurance and resilience through many intense, personal struggles over the years and in the public eye, it seemed that Locklear’s love life was finally coming together.
In June 2020, after reconnecting and dating for a time, Locklear announced that she and Chris Heisser were engaged to be married. Fans rejoiced to see her rekindle and thrive in the love she found years ago.
Her Mother’s Daughter
Now that she is all grown up, Ava Sambora has gained a greater appreciation for her mother’s journey. She admitted that she also struggled with intense anxiety and that her mother was there when she needed her and was very compassionate and supportive.
Locklear could not only relate to her daughter but could help her overcome her struggles from her own experiences with anxiety. Locklear has returned the pride and praise to her daughter, calling her an inspiration.
A Liberated Life
So what is Locklear’s life like now that she is back on track? Inside sources report that she is in a more stable mindset than she has ever been in and has been enjoying spending time with her family.
Her family, including both her parents and her daughter, were very supportive and happy about her renewed relationship with Heisser. With a renewed sense of stability and familial support, Locklear was ready for her next chapter.