Tragic Details About Heather Locklear

Heather Locklear was one of the most celebrated and in-demand actresses in the '90s, but in later years, her star power began to fade. Is this because of bad decisions she made in her career, or because of her personal struggles? The "Money Talks" actress has had many challenges to deal with over the years, some of which found her in rehab multiple times. She's also experienced her share of heartache and relationship drama and had run-ins with the law.

"She has so much talent and beauty, and we hate to see that wasted," a source close to Locklear told Page Six in 2018. "But she's fighting a lot of demons. The only thing she can do is go back to rehab and try again."

Locklear's life has been filled with ups and downs, and there have been tragic moments as fans watched their favorite star fall from grace. She may have needed to hit rock bottom before she could bounce back, but the silver lining in Heather Locklear's life is that things appear to be looking up for the actress...

Heather Locklear has been in and out of rehab

Heather Locklear's substance abuse issues have been well documented, and it has been reported that she sought help multiple times. In 2019, she once again entered a treatment facility, and a source commented on the situation in an interview with People magazine, noting how those who cared for Locklear were optimistic about the future.

"Everybody is hopeful that this time will be different, but it's just hard to tell," the source said. "She's not going into anything new is the problem, though; she's just going back to something she has done before. She has been to rehab more than 20 times, perhaps 25 times." The source also commented on how expensive these programs were and how treatment often included detoxes.

As for what Locklear's specific problems were? A source shared with the publication that she was seeking treatment for issues concerning "alcohol, pills, and her mental health," adding, "She doesn't want anybody to hold her accountable."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She's struggled with her mental health

The downside to living in the public eye is that all of your problems or indiscretions become tabloid fodder. Every mistake an actor makes is well documented, and every challenge they have to face becomes a juicy headline. There was no exception for Heather Locklear, whose personal struggles with substance abuse and mental health concerns have become common knowledge.

Rather than being able to deal with these challenges quietly, Locklear's admission to an Arizona rehab facility in 2008 was reported on by the media. At the time, her representative made a comment to E! News, saying, "There is no statement, and we will not be commenting about Heather's location." While she was afforded some level of privacy, the publication notes that her stay was about four weeks. It was reported that Locklear had checked into the Sierra Tucson treatment facility to focus on her mental health.

"Heather has been dealing with anxiety and depression," the actress's spokesperson said at the time. "She requested an in-depth evaluation of her medication and entered into a medical facility for proper diagnosis and treatment."

Her split from Tommy Lee left her feeling sad

Was the happiest time in Heather Locklear's life when she was married to musician Tommy Lee? The Mötley Crüe rocker was Locklear's first husband, and the couple exchanged vows in 1986. They were young and in love, and Lee showed his commitment to his partner with a large tattoo of her name. It was evident by the "The Return of Swamp Thing" actress's comments to People magazine in 1986 that she thought this relationship would last.

"I've only thought of getting married once," she said. "I plan for this one to last." Unfortunately, it did not, and seven years later, in 1993, they were divorced. A breakup is never easy, but Locklear appeared to be deeply affected by this one. She was honest about her emotional state after, revealing to Entertainment Weekly: "I'm not devastated or destroyed. It's mostly just sad." However, she did not wait long before finding love again and married guitarist Richie Sambora in 1994. 

Locklear would file for divorce in 2006, a move that Sambora did not see coming. At the time, he told ABC News the reports were untrue. In contrast, Locklear's rep made a statement about the breakup. "After 10 years of marriage, Heather Locklear has filed for divorce from Richie Sambora," they said. "This is a private matter and there will be no further comment at this time."

Heather Locklear has refused help

Heather Locklear has been fortunate she has many people who love her and want to see her healthy. But her recovery is hers alone, and the desire to get help had to come from her. In 2018, she made headlines again, this time not just for her struggles with addiction and mental health challenges but also because she had reportedly denied help from her friends and family. The news was tragic, and the anguish her loved ones were experiencing was apparent.

"[Heather] is clearly not getting the proper medical and mental health help she needs. It's not just about rehab for addiction issues, but about getting a proper evaluation and help for the underlying mental health issues," a source close to her told People. "She isolates herself, which only feeds into the other issues. Of course, you can't force someone to get help — they have to want to — but it's hard for someone who is sick to make smart choices and keep at it. She has family and friends who are desperately trying to help."

The silver lining in this situation is that Locklear eventually received the help she needed, and in 2020, she celebrated her first year of sobriety. She took to Instagram to share her thoughts (or rather, she posted a quote credited to Maya Angelou). In the caption, she wrote: "Hugs will come later! 1 year sober today!!!"

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She's spoken about the toll addiction has taken

Heather Locklear has been unable to escape public interest in her private life, and fans have kept tabs on her over the years. This includes the challenges she faced when trying to deal with her addiction. Luckily, she had constant support from family and friends who wanted to see her get better. At the time, this was not something Locklear wanted to share with the world (which was her decision), and although she would later celebrate her sobriety publicly, in general, she has been much quieter about the journey it took to get there.

She gave a glimpse into her mind's inner workings with an Instagram post in 2018. "Addiction is ferocious and will try to take you down. Recovery is the best revenge," she wrote. "Be kind to everyone you meet, your light just might change their path." The message was followed by an acknowledgment of someone she had lost, who she claimed "touched her heart."

Heather Locklear's friend, Denise Richards, started dating her ex

There was nothing to suggest Denise Richards and Heather Locklear were best friends, but they did appear to be on good terms. They were also neighbors. The friendship part of their relationship would change very quickly after Richards began dating Locklear's ex-husband, Richie Sambora. But how did Richards and Locklear know each other? Their connection was initially through Charlie Sheen, a friend and former co-star of Locklear's — the pair worked together on the series "Spin City." 

The relationship between Richards and Sambora isn't believed to have begun until after Sambora's divorce. (At the time, Richards and Sheen were also breaking up.) Still, the news must have been a sting to Locklear. "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," Richards told People in 2006. She also downplayed the friendship in an interview with Us Weekly in 2011. 

"We [Richards and Sambora] were friends, and we were both going through divorces, and that's what drew us to each other... I did not steal someone's husband," she told Us Weekly (via Sydney Morning Herald). "Did I date a former friend's ex-husband? Yes. Did I break up a marriage? No. If I was still friends with [Locklear], that never would have happened with Richie. There was no friendship anymore prior to Richie and I getting together."

She has been accused of harming her boyfriend

Heather Locklear's love life seems to be in a great place, and she remains in a committed relationship with her now-fiance, Chris Heisser. (They had known each other since high school and previously dated when they were young.) The couple appeared in a photo together while attending a friend's wedding as recently as June 2023. But things between them were not always so great, and the "LAX" actress was arrested on domestic violence charges because of her alleged mistreatment of Heisser. In 2018, Page Six reported that an assault took place in Locklear's home in Thousand Oaks, California.

Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian commented on the situation in an interview with the publication. "She claimed to be injured, but we didn't see any sign of that," he said. "We determined she had battered her boyfriend." Another insider shared details of the incident with Entertainment Tonight, saying, "They were literally physically fighting and her brother couldn't control the situation, so he called the police. When the police arrived, Heather was irate."

At the time, a source close to Locklear also commented on the relationship, telling Page Six in 2018: "They rekindled their relationship a little over a year ago. We're not sure how good they are together." There is no denying their relationship was off to a rocky start, but they appear to be in a better and healthier place several years later.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Her friends and family have rallied around her

There have been several incidents in Heather Locklear's life that can objectively be considered tragic. But there have also been beautiful and empowering times. Despite dealing with her demons, Locklear never had to do this alone, and her family and friends were a constant source of love and support. However, they did not always have success, which likely took its emotional toll on them.

"Her parents are remarkable, and they have tried so hard. Her close friends have tried. It is very sad. This isn't the Heather everyone knows," a source told People magazine in 2018 when discussing the actress's struggles with addiction and other personal problems. "As a professional [actress], everyone wanted to work with her, she was never late, always prepared, a joy on set. Also, she is a really good friend to people. For years and years. This person isn't her."

She was arrested for a hit-and-run

Heather Locklear has had run-ins with the law, including an arrest for a hit-and-run. The charge sounds awful, but thankfully, no one was hurt in the incident, and it was relatively minor, involving her car (which was still registered to both Locklear and ex-husband Richie Sambora) and a parking sign. So, what exactly happened, and why did the actress make headlines because of it?

The arrest happened in April 2010 for a misdemeanor hit-and-run. (This means she never served time, nor was she taken into custody.) However, police investigated and noted how her car had been involved in a minor incident.

"Physical evidence established that the vehicle involved in the collision was... a 2005 black BMW sedan registered to Richard and Heather Sambora of Westlake Village," Ventura District Attorney Gregory D. Totten confirmed in a statement reported by People. "Insufficient evidence exists to establish who the driver of the vehicle was at the time of the collision. As a result, no criminal charges will be filed." This is not the most tragic thing that has happened in Locklear's life, but the media attention over the incident was likely unwelcome.

Her relationship with her co-star Jack Wagner failed

Heather Locklear and Jack Wagner would have known each other for a long time, having starred together in "Melrose Place." But their professional relationship turned romantic, and they became an item, even getting engaged in 2011, although they would break up later that same year. At the time, it was reported that the demands of planning their wedding and reservations about how the marriage would affect their respective children were the cause of the split (via TMZ).

In a 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Wagner was asked about Locklear. At the time, the challenges she was facing in her life were very well known, and it was a bold move for the interviewer to ask the actor about someone he was once romantically involved with, considering he was there to promote his upcoming film. The "When Calls the Heart" actor responded diplomatically, saying, "We all have our struggles. We all do, and some of us handle them in different ways. We either really work at getting well, you know, and it's just about when you make that decision to do it... Time will tell."

Despite her tragic life, she has helped her daughter with her own anxiety

Despite Heather Locklear's personal struggles, she has not alienated herself entirely from those who love her. She and her daughter, Ava Locklear (whom the "Dynasty" actress shares with her ex-husband, Richie Sambora), appear to share a close bond.

Ava has spoken about how her mother has been there for her while dealing with anxiety and navigating her own problems. The constant support has helped the two women have a deeper understanding, and Ava credits her mom for being reliable and kind. "She never judged me and made sure I didn't feel alone," she told People in 2020. "This was so important to my mental health and helped me continue on with my life."

Ava also spoke about how her anxiety became particularly intense in 2019, calling it "very debilitating." Despite not living near her daughter at the time, Locklear would make an effort to visit when Ava needed her. "Anytime of the day, she would stop what she was doing and come to comfort me," Ava explained. "When I would insist she did not have to, she would stay on the phone with me late into the night until I was calm enough to sleep. She did everything she could to help me get through those difficult months, from taking me to every doctor's appointment to giving me tons of books on managing anxiety..."

Her career has slowed down, but she's kept fighting for a comeback

Heather Locklear was a big star in the '80s and '90s, perhaps most notably for her work on the television series "Melrose Place" in which she starred as Amanda Woodward. While she continued to land roles after the show wrapped, there has been a noticeable decline in the leading parts she's secured in recent years. Hollywood is not a place that is kind to aging actresses, but Locklear also had to contend with her struggles.

Was she content to give up her career for good? Nope. Locklear was excited to be cast in the TV movie "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff: The Kristine Carlson Story" in 2021. Many saw this role as her comeback and expected great things from the actress — another milestone achievement for her, in addition to her being sober for over two years. She was also embracing her sixties. 

"I've always loved getting older because it means I'm alive," she told People, on turning 60 in 2021. "I'm so grateful. I don't really give a hoot. I don't give a hoot about how I look. My parents still love me. My daughter loves me."