Before graduating from California's Newbury Park High School in 1979, Locklear takes frequent trips to the mountains around Lake Arrowhead with her family. Her father Bill, an administrator at UCLA, and mother Diane, who works for Disney, take Locklear, her brother and two sisters water-skiing during the summer and to play in the snow during the winter.
After auditioning with 450 actresses, Locklear wins the role of vixen Sammy Jo on the saucy primetime soap Dynasty. Originally signed for 12 episodes, she's released early, then re-signed when producers have a change of heart. She'll stay until the end of the show’s nine-season run in 1989.
Unsure about her future on Dynasty, Locklear accepts the role of Officer Stacy Sheridan on primetime ABC cop drama T.J. Hooker, starring William Shatner. She ends up appearing on both shows simultaneously until Hooker ends in 1986. Although unconventional, the double employment is easy to pull off because both dramas are executive produced by Aaron Spelling and air on ABC.
Locklear marries Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee in a gazebo at the Marriott Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel in California. The quintessential California girl met the tattooed, makeup-wearing metalhead at an REO Speedwagon concert in 1985. "When my dad saw him, his eyes fell out of his head and he asked, 'Who does that belong to?'" she tells Newsday. "My dad loves him now." However, the harmony doesnt last forever. The pair divorces in 1994. "I'm not devastated or destroyed," she says at the time to Entertainment Weekly. "It's mostly just sad."
Locklear lands her first leading movie role in the mutant comedy The Return of the Swamp Thing, playing Abby Arcane, the love interest of the creature from the deep muck. "Since my character owns a plant shop, it's only natural she should enjoy making love to a plant," Locklear jokes to PEOPLE. And how did the experience compare with her love life with Lee? "One's a plant and one's an animal."
Cast for a six-episode stint during sweeps on Melrose Place, Locklear plays devilishly nasty Amanda. She'll make nearly twice as much as her costars (reportedly $40,000 per episode) when she joins the show full-time in the fall season. And why not? The series jumped from No. 94 to No. 50 in the ratings after her arrival. The primetime drama – her third with Spelling – ends in May 1999.
Locklear is named as one of PEOPLE's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, an honor she'll repeat in 2001 – not that she agrees. "When I look in the mirror I see the girl I was growing up," she tells the magazine, "with braces, crooked teeth, a baby face and a skinny body."
Ten months after they started dating, Locklear weds Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora at the American Cathedral in Paris. It's their second exchange of vows in 48 hours. They legally tied the knot in a civil ceremony in New Jersey two days earlier. After a champagne reception with two dozen guests at the nearby Ritz Carlton, the pair crosses two oceans for their honeymoon in Hawaii. "Heather didn't plan on this," her mother Diane tells PEOPLE. "You don't plan on falling in love or finding the right person, but if you don't take it while it's here, you could lose it and never find it again."
After 35 hours of labor, Locklear opts for a cesarean section, bringing daughter Ava Elizabeth, 6 lb. 6 oz., into the world. Locklear, who continued to work on Melrose Place throughout the pregnancy, cut out junk food during the nine months, gaining only 22 pounds by restricting her diet to vegetables, fish and chicken.
Locklear adds fresh blood to the sitcom Spin City, signing on to play a campaign manager who routinely clashes with series star Michael J. Fox. The new job requires her to move to New York City, where her family settles into a four-bedroom pad on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Within a half-hour of getting the offer, "I was on the phone with my husband like, 'Would you be interested in moving to New York?'" Locklear tells Entertainment Weekly. "He was like, 'I'm ready. Let's go." The sitcom runs until April 30, 2002.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): CLASSMATES YEARBOOK ARCHIVES; MPTV; MPTV; Neal Preston/CORBIS; Millimeter Films; PHOTOFEST; MARK WEISS/ANGLES; AP; BILL FOLEY/ABC