Melanie also grew up with tigers and lions, as Tippi and Noel were raising them for the movie Roar (1981), in which the family later starred. Her career began as a model at just nine months old and she later appeared as an extra in Smith! (1969) and The Harrad Experiment (1973), where she fell in love with her mother’s co-star, Don Johnson. She was only fourteen years old, while he was a twice-divorced 22-year-old. Tippi took a very liberal approach and allowed Melanie to move in with Don at a tender age. As precocious in academics as she was in life, she skipped a grade and graduated from Hollywood Professional School when she was just sixteen. Even though Melanie didn’t like modeling, she continued to do so to pay the bills. One working day, she went to meet with director Arthur Penn for what she thought was a modeling assignment. It was actually an audition for his film Night Moves (1975), and Penn gave her the role of a runaway nymphet. She didn’t really need to have to be an actress, but Johnson encouraged her to do it. She agreed but was terrified of performing in front of the camera. Penn took a paternal interest in her, and she felt confident and gave a riveting performance, doing racy nude scenes. The film got her attention, and it immediately typecast her and led to far more nymphet roles, with her beautiful nude human body a permanent fixture in most of these films. She married Don Johnson, but it ended shortly afterwards, possibly because her early movie success outshone his.
Unfortunately, as her career progressed, she became increasingly dependent on drugs and alcohol, a fact well known to studio executives, who stopped considering her for film roles. Melanie then turned to doing television roles, where she met her second husband, Steven Bauer, on the set of the TV movie She’s in the Army Now (1981) (TV). He helped her to overcome her drug and alcohol problems and got her to take acting classes with Stella Adler in New York. The classes paid off, as director Brian De Palma cast her as a porno actress in his murder mystery Body Double (1984) and her sexy, funny performance won her rave reviews and the Best Supporting Actress Award by the National Society of Film Critics. Jonathan Demme was so impressed with her performance that he gave her the title role in Something Wild (1986) without even auditioning her. The film became a cult favorite, with Melanie again getting critical plaudits. The birth of her first child, Alexander, in 1985, didn’t help to save her struggling marriage, and she and Bauer divorced shortly thereafter. Melanie reconciled quickly with first husband Don Johnson, and he directed her in a guest appearance on his hit TV series “Miami Vice” (1984) in 1987, before they again went their separate ways. Melanie’s career skyrocketed when Mike Nichols cast her in the title role of Working Girl (1988), a box-office hit for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress and won the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Comedy. However, her ongoing substance abuse problems almost destroyed her career yet again, and Nichols pushed her into a rehabilitation clinic. En route to the clinic, she called ex-husband Johnson for support, and they reconciled after her release from the clinic. She got pregnant and they remarried in 1989, and before long thereafter their daughter Dakota Johnson was born. Now sober, Melanie concentrated on her film career, but the films she chose often flopped badly, especially The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Even though she gave heartfelt performances in all her films, she was often miscast, with her breathy little-girl voice not helping matters in her role as a spy in Shining Through (1992) and as a homicide detective going undercover in the Hassidic Jewish community in New York City in A Stranger Among Us (1992).
Melanie made a minor comeback with her supporting role as a desperate housewife in Nobody’s Fool (1994), reuniting her with Bruce Willis, her co-star in “Bonfire”, and Paul Newman, her co-star from The Drowning Pool (1975). Her personal life was making headlines again, though, as she left Johnson because of his own substance-abuse problems, reconciled with him briefly when he became sober, only to leave him again, this time for Antonio Banderas, her married co-star from Two Much (1995). Both she and Banderas designed a scandal in 1995 with their torrid romance, and the tabloids followed their every single move, including her divorce from Johnson and his divorce from wife Ana Leza. Melanie became pregnant with her third child, and she and Banderas married in 1996. Their daughter Stella was born, and the notorious couple were forgiven by the public and the media. Melanie gave what is arguable her best performance to date as a ditsy heroin addict in Another Day in Paradise (1998). She then starred in the made-for-cable TV movie RKO 281 (1999) (TV), in which she played actress Marion Davies, a part that garnered her Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Melanie became dependent to pain killers, however, and wrote about her struggle and recovery in her journal on her official website. Greenmoon Productions, the production company that she formed with Banderas, produced several flops, such as her starring vehicle Crazy in Alabama (1999), directed by Banderas. Her career took another blow when her TV series, “Me & George” (1998), never even aired. As a result, film and television offers dried up.
In 2003, Melanie turned to the Broadway stage and emerged with a rave review from the New York Times theater critic and also packed houses for her turn as the murderess “Roxie” in the musical “Chicago”. It renewed her confidence, as she had never sang, danced or been on the Broadway stage before. In 2005, she surprised viewers by playing a sexy mom to two grown women in the TV series “Twins” (2005). However, the series was canceled after one season. Since 1996, she has been married to Antonio Banderas, and the couple has one daughter, Stella Banderas. Banderas and Griffith are involved in many charities, including raising funds for her mother Tippi Hedren’s Shambala preserve, a refuge for wild animals.
|Date of Birth||9 August 1957|
|Place of Birth||New York City, New York, USA|
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