Melanie Griffith has experienced a lot of ups and downs in her life. The renowned actress, who is the daughter of Tippi Hedren, made her acting debut when she was just 12 years old. Since then, she has appeared in several notable shows.
While Melanie Griffith’s career continued to grow, her personal life received a lot of attention. She’s been through three marriages, including one to Antonio Banderas, been to rehab, and brought up three kids.
Alexander Bauer and Dakota Johnson, Melanie Griffith’s children from her first two marriages, experienced a somewhat difficult childhood, especially in light of the difficult circumstances their mother was going through at the time.
In the 1980s, Melanie Griffith was incredibly successful. She was sexual and erotic in a manner that American actresses almost never are and that European actresses occasionally are. And while I don’t believe Melanie ever fully reached her potential, she could act.
In Working Girl and Paradise, I adored her!
She was born in New York City on August 9, 1957, to Peter Griffith and Tippi Hedren, a famous actress well remembered for her part in the Hitchcock masterpiece The Birds.
Griffith’s life has been very amazing in retrospect. Nevertheless, it has also been tragic. The well-known actress, who rose to fame by portraying strong but seductive roles, has been in a car accident, has struggled with alcoholism, and has gone through three divorces.
She was exposed to the stress of a career in show business from an early age. Tippi, her mother, was a celebrity, as previously indicated, and even by Hollywood standards, her childhood was luxurious in a very peculiar way.
Griffith’s mother wed producer and agent Noah Marshall when Griffith was seven years old. The pair made the decision to develop a movie about lions after returning from an African vacation. They were given a novel suggestion from an animal trainer to get to know the big cat better, they could welcome one into their home.
So, Melanie Griffith grew up with a pet lion, living with them in the 1970s at their home in Los Angeles, California.
”I grew up with lions, tigers, and two elephants,” Griffith said.
The pet lion, Neil, lived together with the family. Life Magazine documented the extraordinary event, with pictures showing Hedren resting on Neil’s back. The lion even slept under blankets in Melanie Griffith’s bed.
”It was stupid beyond belief,” Griffith later explained.
Even though she wasn’t involved in any incidents with Neil, years later, in another encounter, things didn’t end that well.
Melanie Griffith starred in her first commercial before she turned one. She continued to do commercials and modeling work for some years, and at 12, she made her debut in Extra!, even though she was uncredited.
At the age of 14, she appeared in The Harrad Experiment, and on set, she met her first big love. Griffith met actor Don Johnson on set, and the two fell madly in love. At the time, however, their age difference was somewhat controversial. Don Johnson was 22 at the time – eight years older than Melanie – but their love for one another didn’t stop them.
”I thought he was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen,” Griffith said.
Her mother feared for the two because of her age but eventually gave in. At 15, Melanie Griffith moved in with Don Johnson, and on her 18th birthday, the two got engaged.
”They were two beautiful, wonderful people, and here, my daughter was showing signs that I had never seen before in her, with an older man, and there was just sheer panic,” her mother, Tippi Hedren, recalled.
Griffith and Johnson tied the knot in Las Vegas in 1976. And, after just six months of marriage, the two split. However, they would rekindle their romance later on, exchanging vows a second time in 1989.
Melanie Griffith started her promising acting career in the 1970s, starring in films such as Night Moves and Joyride.
In 1981, Melanie Griffith starred in the film Roar. Even though her mother and stepfather raised lions to shoot a film, things turned out ugly on the set of Roar. It was very dangerous being in front of the camera, and Melanie got injured.
She was mauled near the eye, and she feared losing her sight. She needed plastic surgery, while her mother Tippi Hedren contracted gangrene and needed skin grafts, according to a piece in the New Yorker.
As reported by The Guardian, Melanie Griffith said that the lioness ”didn’t mean to hurt me. Just, after seven years growing up with the lions, I forgot you have to be careful. You can never be sure you’re safe, and just a blow can pop your head like a ping pong ball.”
Melanie Griffith came through the scary incident. She continued to star in movies, however, without any live wild animals. She appeared in Body Double, Something Wild, and The Working Girl, among others, with the last one earning her an Academy Award nomination in 1989.
In the 1980s, Melanie Griffith also found love for the second time. She married actor Steven Bauer in 1981, and four years later, they welcomed a son, Alexander Bauer.
Their relationship lasted until 1989 when the couple divorced – with Griffith finding love in Don Johnson again. They divorced again in 1996, after welcoming daughter and now actress Dakota Johnson in 1989.
”You have to understand that we have a tie, and I love him,” Melanie Griffith said and added:
”I will always love [Don Johnson]. But just because you love someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you can live with them.”
Dakota Johnson has become a prominent actress, starring in Fifty Shades of Grey and The Social Network. But because her parents divorced when she was only seven years old, she had a turbulent childhood. She moved around plenty, went to several different schools, and was even homeschooled for a while.
She was often hanging around her parents on film sets from a young age. It made her want to become an actress as well, which she did.
However, the childhood of Dakota Johnson was also filled with much trouble because of her family situation. As a result, she started to go to therapy at age three.
“The whole shebang,” Dakota Johnson told Vogue. “All the help you can get.”
Melanie Griffith – marriage to Antonio Banderas
”I was so consistently unmoored and discombobulated, I didn’t have an anchor anywhere, I never learned how to learn the way you’re supposed to as a kid. I thought, ‘Why do I have to go to school on time? What’s the point when you’re living in Budapest for six months while your stepdad films Evita and you go to school in your hotel room?’ I was a disaster, and I thought for so long that there was something wrong with my brain. Now I realize that it just works in a different way.”
Dakota Johnson’s childhood could’ve become the thing that put her on the wrong foot. However, a new person soon entered her life, who changed everything. Just as she mentioned, she needed an anchor. And that was precisely what she got in her stepfather, Antonio Banderas.
In 1996, the same year as Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson split, Banderas also went through a divorce with Ana Leza, whom he’d been married to for nine years. He had long admired Melanie Griffith after seeing her in Gone Girl and on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
“The first time I went to the Academy Awards after we got a nomination for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, we got on the red carpet, and I saw this blonde woman, and I knew her because I saw movies of her, but I didn’t remember [her name] at the time,” Banderas told Vulture.
“So, I said to [director Pedro Almodóvar] ‘Who is she? Who is she? What is her name?’ Pedro said, ‘That’s Melanie Griffith!’ I said, ‘That’s it. Oh my God.’ Six years later, I was married to her.”
Dakota Johnson’s relationship with stepfather Antonio Banderas
The two met while filming the comedy film Two Much in 1995, and they had one actual thing in common. Both were unhappy in their marriages – and Banderas and Griffith recognized each other’s situations.
Antonio Banderas instantly felt an attraction to Melanie Griffith when working together. He thought she was funny, generous, sweet, and beautiful, and after Two Much, the two stayed in touch. In May 1996, the two tied the knot and welcomed daughter Stella later the same year.
Not only did Antonio Banderas become a father to Stella, but the well-respected actor also became a stepfather to Alexander – from her second marriage to Steven Bauer – and Dakota Johnson.
For both Alexander and Dakota, Antonio Banderas became vital, as they finally got a stepfather who was there for her all the time.
In the beginning, however, Banderas explained that it was difficult for the children to accept him because they didn’t know how long he’d stick around.
“I was totally inexperienced. Suddenly I had a 6-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy, and Stella came along almost immediately,” he told AARP. “I was, ‘Oh, my God!’ But as soon as the kids knew that I was there to stay, they were fine. They needed solid ground in which they could grow. As soon as I realized that, I started establishing my relationship, giving them security, little by little doing the father thing.”
Changed Dakota Johnson’s life
Dakota and Alexander realized that Antonio Banderas was not a temporary man. He took on the role of their stepfather and helped them in any way possible.
For Dakota, this was especially important. Her childhood had been more than stressful and uncertain. In Banderas, she got a stepfather that taught her many things, including “true passion and discipline.”
In 2011, he revealed that the kids call him “Paponio, “which is a mix of “Papa” and “Antonio.”
During an award ceremony in 2019, when Antonio Banderas received the Hollywood Actor Award, Dakota Johnson and Melanie Griffith presented him with the trophy.
”I come from a family of many a marriage, and I got very lucky,” Johnson said in her speech.
”I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life. When I was six years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light, a whole new world of creativity and culture, and one remarkably magical little sister into our family.”
”He loved my mother, and my siblings and I so big, and so fiercely and so loud, that it would change all of our lives together,” Dakota added in her speech.
Strong bond to this day
The relationship between Antonio Banderas and his stepchildren continued to be strong even after he and Melanie Griffith divorced in 2014.
Even though Melanie Griffith and Antonio aren’t married anymore, their family bond will forever be strong. As of today, Banderas is in a relationship with Nicole Kimpel. But as soon as he is in Los Angeles, he makes sure to spend time with his stepchildren and ex-wife.
The divorce between the two in 2014 wasn’t dramatic at all, for which his stepchildren were very grateful, Banderas explained.
He added that he will always cherish the time he and Melanie had together – and that he always will love her. And regarding his stepdaughter, Dakota Johnson, he is like her biological, very proud father.
“I remember those years as very effervescent and really beautiful. I am not married with Melanie anymore, but she is my family. She is probably one of my best friends, if not the best friend that I have. My family is there, Dakota [Johnson], Little Estella and Alexander,” Antonio Banderas told Vulture in 2019.
”I met her when she was five years old,” he added. “I followed every single step of it. I’m so proud of her. I saw her the other day in Toronto, and she looks — as I said in the social networks when I put a picture of her and myself, I put there, ‘My radiant Dakota.’”
At 65, Melanie Griffith is happily single. Her last appearance on the big screen was in 2020, when she had a minor role and co-starred alongside her daughter Dakota in The High Note.
Now that she has a family, Melanie spends her time writing her memoir, according to BestLife. She’ll undoubtedly have a lot to write down, including her fight with cancer.
The actress received a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in 2010, and eight years later she disclosed that she had been given a cancer diagnosis.
The whole ordeal affected Melanie; doctors had to remove a malignant cell from her nose.
“It’s a scary thing when you’re an actress and you depend on your face for work,” the actress told InStyle and continued:
“But I realize I have to put a Band-Aid on it, and it’s fine. I just look like a dork.”
Fortunately, things worked out in the end; Melanie is now a vocal opponent of cancer and a supporter of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ initiatives.
Whatever you may think of Melanie’s appearance and her difficult background, she seems to have a truly kind soul.