Lieutenant Stephanie Holden is a fictional character in the American television show Baywatch.

She was portrayed by actress and former model Alexandra Paul in the TV series and later by Ilfenesh Hadera in the film version.

Stephanie was a strong hardworking lifeguard, the Baywatch team's greatest asset and a loyal friend, especially to her fellow lifeguards and like Jill Riley before her, she died a tragic death while trying to save another.

Physical AppearanceEdit

Stephanie was a beautiful statuesque young woman with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. The length of her hair changed during the seasons from being long in seasons three and four to being really short in season five. Her hair color also changed, ranging from light brown to dark brown and almost black.

When Stephanie was introduced in season three as a new Baywatch administrative commander (or supervising lieutenant) she was a fit albeit slender woman more suited for desk jobs than actual rescues. Stephanie's actress, Alexandra Paul, was a slim woman when she began in season three. She soon realized that she wanted more physical scenes but those however were physically demanding. To better perform Paul had begun strength training come season four. This clearly affected Stephanie's body that began showing some muscle definition. During season six, Paul also began training for the Hawaii Ironman triathlon which also affected her appearance. These real world activities were reflected by Stephanie's body changing as the seasons passed; from a slim to a more athletic and even slightly muscular body to finally the wiry body of an endurance athlete.

Noteworthy is also that unlike most of the other female Baywatch lifeguards, Stephanie was flat-chested.

Stephanie was 26 years old in season three when she joined Baywatch. Her height was 5ft10 (178 cm) and her weight ranged from 124 to 133 pounds (56 to 60 kg).


Stephanie was a sensible and smart woman, greatly devoted to her job. She was a loyal friend often putting the needs of others before her own.

She had a great sense of humor. She loved her younger sister Caroline dearly and was in fact a little overprotective of her.

Stephanie suffered from Corcoranophobia, the fear of helicopters. The fear had its origin in her father being killed in a helicopter crash during the Vietnam War. It had little effect on Stephanie's life however and in fact was only shown once when she was assigned to an exchange program with the Coast Guard (Trading Places).

Stephanie's closest friends were her sister Caroline and C.J. Parker.

Skills and AbilitiesEdit

Stephanie was a good swimmer and diver. To stay in shape she jogged daily and occasionally trained in the gym. While she was fairly athletic, especially in the later seasons, her main strengths lay in management. As the administrative commander her leadership and organizational skills were often put to test, especially by the conniving Neely Capshaw. Regardless of the situation Stephanie always got the situation eventually under control. Another of her strong suits was her ability to train and teach others; she especially excelled at training rookies. Despite wearing her red lifeguard swimsuit and assisting in rescues, she was often relegated to office duty at the Baywatch headquarters.

Stephanie also acted as Cody Madison's personal swimming coach for the Olympics.

Like all Baywatch lifeguards Stephanie was expected to be able to handle all the land and water vehicles at their disposal, including the Baywatch jeeps, the quad bikes, the Scarab boats and the jet skis.

Without doubt her Lifeguard Rescue Skills were among the best at Baywatch and Stephanie especially excelled at assessing the situation and making sure everything got done in proper order. Her ability to perform first aid and CPR were also first-class.

Stephanie's frailness was evident in that she was often easily overpowered and restrained by both men and women. Meanwhile her fighting skills ranged from non-existent to very skilled; in season five she was easily defeated, knocked unconscious and taken hostage by a smaller female eco-terrorist (Homecoming) but a year later in season six she single-handedly defeats the villain in unarmed combat showing considerable combat skills (Baywatch Angels).

Early LifeEdit

When Stephanie was seven years old her father died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam. This affected her deeply and she developed a huge fear of helicopters which she carried through to her adult life. In the season four episode The Child Inside, Stephanie revealed that she was abandoned by her mother and she was raised by her grandmother.


Before Season 3Edit

Stephanie originally came to Baywatch as a temporary replacement for Jill Riley, who was on vacation at the time. She immediately began a romantic relationship with Mitch Buchannon and the two became very serious. The relationship ended abruptly when Stephanie left Mitch without explanation.

Seasons 3-6Edit

Alexandra-Stephanie 7

Stephanie in Season 3

Stephanie returned to Baywatch in Season 3, this time as a Lieutenant. Mitch was shocked to see her and still harboured resentment towards her for her sudden departure years earlier. Stephanie revealed to Mitch that at the time of their relationship she was married and wanted to return to her husband and try to work things out. The marriage eventually did fail and she apologised to Mitch for her actions. Stephanie and Mitch eventually got over their differences and began to form a strong friendship. Despite being close friends, Mitch and Stephanie continued to have romantic feelings for each other, which affected many of their relationships.

Season 7Edit

Eventually Stephanie married Tom Morella and they decided to spend their honeymoon on a boat called "Chance Of Lifetime" with Mitch, Neely, and a group of teenagers whom they hoped to teach about the lifeguard service. Two of the teenagers, Randy and Terry get into a fight and accidentally break the only radio on the ship. The group is unaware that they are heading into a storm, which leads them to eventually abandon the sinking ship. As Stephanie swims towards the lifeboat, she notices that Trisha (one of the teenagers) is missing, and returns to find her on the cabin floor. As they head toward the deck, a bolt of lightning strikes the mast, which falls onto Stephanie, crushing her. Mitch and Tom make it to her, but her injuries are too severe and she dies in their arms. Mitch is the one who ends up telling Caroline about her sister's death. The funeral takes place the following day, with Mitch delivering the eulogy. In the same way as the late Jill Riley, Stephanie wasn't only a great lifeguard, but a good friend who would be greatly missed by the team.

Baywatch NightsEdit

Stephanie appeared in the Season 2 episode The Eighth Seal where she appeared as a ghost to Mitch.


  • Alexandra Paul, who played Stephanie Holden in the TV-series, originally tried for the parts of C.J. Parker and Summer Quinn. Being slim and flat-chested did not earn her the role of the athletic eye-catcher CJ, nor did she fit the age profile of the young Summer. Those parts went to Pamela Anderson and Nicole Eggert respectively. The producers, however, liked the tall woman and thought she would be a perfect love interest for Mitch Buchannon played by the 6ft4 tall David Hasselhoff. "I auditioned for the parts Pamela Anderson and Nicole Eggert eventually got. I was not right for either role obviously, so the producers decided to write a part for me, which was nice."
  • A new character needed to be added but what her role would be was unclear. This was the first of two times a character was to be written specifically for an actor and it was the only one that worked well.  Alexandra was certified as an EMT and had been a junior lifeguard in real life so she knew the tricks of the trade and she was a reasonably good swimmer – these facts were in her favor. However, she was lacking in strength and despite having participated in athletic activities her entire life Alexandra was not as a talented athlete as she initially thought. In fact, her view on herself was contradictory as she considered herself as being athletic and a bad athlete at the same time. "I swam on the local swim team until I was 15 and ran cross-country in high school. Always a very average athlete, but I was enthusiastic." Joining Baywatch made her realize what that meant, "I wish I could say I'm an athlete. After filming and training this hard and – all the running and swimming, you know, there was a lot of that; I was embarrassed to say [earlier] that I was athletic." After Baywatch Paul often spoke about being a bad athlete. "I was never a particularly talented athlete, but I enjoyed participating very much." In her own words she was a 'klutz' and a poor runner, "I was horrible at anything with hand/eye coordination." "...I loved running so much, even though I had a funny gait and a slow pace!" All in all, the fears were valid that she would not be able to perform in a believable manner the physical tasks that were required.
  • Eventually it was decided the new character would be an administrative assistant , a character that that was specifically created for Alexandra based on her age, looks and abilities. She was made a lieutenant due to her being the oldest of the women. She was to be an intelligent leader and trainer - the brainy one - to compensate for lacking physical ability. "I was the smart one of the show. 'Cause I had small breasts, short hair and brown hair, your I.Q. goes up about twenty points with those physical characteristics." The character was named Stephanie Holden and her role was to be less physical than the other roles; the character was not meant to do rescues but to stay mainly in the Baywatch HQ coordinating things. "I got to choose my character's name and her personality. Holden was the last name of my math teacher in high school and he was a type A, competitive person who was slightly intimidating and very passionate about his job, so I thought it was apt, since Stephanie Holden was that way." 
  • Unlike the other lifeguards, Stephanie was given a uniform consisting of a white shirt, black skirt and high heeled pumps as her main attire. It was in Alexandra Paul's contract that she did not have to wear the trademark red swimsuit if she didn't want to. It wasn't only Alexandra who at first didn't want to wear the swimsuit, but also the producers, "They really wanted me to be in the uniform." 
  • The reasons for this were twofold. Even if Alexandra in time became comfortable with her body she at first felt very insecure around the athletic, buxom blondes. During her first year, Alexandra had three lengthy discussions with the producers as she was trying to decide whether or not to get breast enhancements. She was convinced that not even the producers considered her sexy the way she was and she was seriously considering getting enchamcements making her the same size as Playboy model Stephanie Seymour. The producers didn't like the idea and thought she was perfect for her role as she was – a bigger chest wouldn't change what she brought to the show. Alexandra was sceptical but fortunately opted not to get the surgery.
  • The other reason was that after meeting her co-stars Alexandra didn't feel firm and athletic enough. Having only recenty overcome bulimia Alexandra worried she would look soft in comparison. Her female co-stars' confidence and especially Pamela Anderson fitness background was a concern for her. Her fears might have been exaggerated, but in 2002 she told that the only time she had to wear a bikini (Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding) she had body makeup to cover up the scar on her stomach and to enhance her abdominal muscles. During a photo shoot for the movie she wanted the photos of her to be retouched. "It is in my contract that they cannot give me bigger breasts, as I am proud of my natural shape and size (but not that proud of other parts, as you can see). If I were really a person of character, I would insist they leave me as is with no retouching anywhere... but I don't have that much character." The photographer was asked to remove her scar, retouch her belly button, give her killer abs and add muscles and curves.
  • Insecurities aside, Stephanie quickly ditched the uniform and donned the red swimsuit to fit in better with the other lifeguards. However, whenever possible she did wear a jacket over the swimsuit. Stephanie also moved out of the office to take part in regular lifeguard duties. Despite wearing the red Baywatch swimsuit and assisting in rescues, she was often relegated to office duty at the Baywatch headquarters.
  • Due to the physical demands Alexandra had to increase her cardiovascular workouts. At the end of her first season, Alexandra began going to Gold's Gym early in the morning, where she did an hour of cardio. "I kept in shape by going to Gold's Gym in Venice every morning at 4 a.m. - doing an hour of cardio so I could be on the set by 6 a.m." Riding a stationary bike or swimming an hour improved her endurance, but it was not enough. To look like a credible lifeguard Alexandra realized she needed to be stronger and thus began strength training during her second season (season 3). "You can see in the second season my (Stephanie's) body got more defined, as I had started lifting weights." To give her a more athletic look, Alexandra got a new swimsuit at the start of her second season that was specially designed for her slender frame.
  • In time, in conjunction with Alexandra's increased strength and stamina and Pamela Anderson's pregnancies first in 95-96 and then in 97, Stephanie's role got more physical, in the end paralleling C.J. and Neely. As Alexandra's strongest suit was swimming she favored water rescues and swimming over land rescues and tasks involving running, jumping and climbing; it was also easier to handle and move a 'victim' in the water than on dry land. "Because I loved being in the water so much, I would beg for Stephanie to have more rescue scenes. Yasmine Bleeth, who played my sister Caroline, hated doing water work and would tell the producers to give her rescues to me." 
  • During her final seasons one of the co-creators and the showrunner admitted that Alexandra had become one of the best athletes on the show and as good as the real Los Angeles County lifeguards at the job.
  • Like C.J. Parker, Stephanie was one of the most popular and longest serving characters in the series appearing in five seasons from 1992-1997.
  • Stephanie was the first lieutenant lifeguard in the series, the second was Taylor Walsh.
  • She was the third lifeguard and second cast regular to killed off in the show, the first was Jill Riley and the second was Tracy Dodsworth.
  • Even though Stephanie's first appearance was in the third episode of season 3, she was in the intro credits of the first episodes of that particular season.
  • In Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding, Stephanie's death appears in Mitch's dreams. He is now dating a woman named Allison Ford who looked exactly like her. But she was really a con artist named Judy Rabin who changed her appearance to assist a criminal named Mason Sato who had a personal grudge against Mitch. She was also played by Alexandra Paul.
  • Her character was specifically created for Paul based on her looks and abilities.
  • The character Stephanie Holden was supposed to be an intelligent leader and trainer; the brainy one.
  • Stephanie was made an administrative lieutenant and was given a military-like uniform consisting of a white shirt, black skirt and high heels. The character was not meant to do rescues, but to stay mainly in the Baywatch HQ.
  • It was in her contract that Paul did not have to wear the trademark red swimsuit. However, she quickly ditched the uniform and donned the swimsuit.
  • Due to the physical demands and to look like a credible lifeguard, Paul began strength training during her second season. "You can see in the second season my body got more defined, as I had started lifting weights."
  • Paul was completely unaware that Stephanie had two other siblings in addition to Caroline.
  • After Stephanie's death, the character appeared once in the Baywatch Nights episode The Eighth Seal (S2E19) as a ghost. According to Paul, it was a personal favor for David Hasselhoff.


Baywatch Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Stephanie Holden.