What the Hell Happened to Melanie Griffith?
Melanie Griffith is the daughter of Hollywood icon, Tippi Hedren, an Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner. She rose to the A-list in the 80s working with directors like Brian De Palma, Mike Nichols and Jonathan Demme. But after a promising decade, she stumbled and fell off the a-List in the 90s.
What the hell happened?
Griffith was born into show business. Her mother, Tippi Hedren, is best known for the films she made with Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds and Marnie. Hedren suffered numerous indignities at the hands of the legendary director. Griffith was a child at the time and remembers a strange gift from Hitchcock.
“It was, like, a coffin box… and I opened it up and in it was a doll of my mother from The Birds… It was, like, made by the studio. Can you imagine the psychological effect (of that)… He was a very weird guy.”
That’s for sure. Later in her career, Griffith would go on to appear in an episode of the TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in the 80’s.
Griffith’s biological father was also in “the biz” as an actor and producer. Her parents divorced when she was only four years old. Her father re-married a model/actress and her mother re-married an agent/producer. Given this upbringing, it is no surprise that Griffith started doing commercials at age 12.
At age 14, Griffith began dating her mother’s 22-year-old Harrad Experiment co-star, Don Johnson. Griffith had an uncredited cameo in the film. Griffith and Johnson were married in 1976. The marriage lasted only six moths.
In 1975, Griffith started getting her first credited film roles. She appeared in three films that year. The Drowning, co-starred Paul Newman. Smile starred Bruce Dern. Her most significant role was in the neo-noir detective drama, Night Moves which starred Gene Hackman.
Night Moves was not a success when it was released, but it has gained critical support over time. Many now consider it the last great film by director Arthur Penn. Night Moves is perhaps best known for Griffiths many nude scenes. She was reportedly only 17 when she filmed them.
At the time, Griffith was living the show biz lifestyle. Actress Tatum O’Neal has claimed that, she and Griffith had a sexual encounter in a Paris hotel room while high on opium and hashish. O’Neal was only 12 and Griffith was 18.
Throughout the late 70’s, Griffith worked on TV movies, mini-series and small roles in film. She appeared in the movie Roar with her mother in 1978.
In 1982, she married her second husband, actor Steven Bauer (best known as Manny Ribera in the Brian De Palma’s Scarface.) The couple had a son together in 1985 and divorced in 1987.
Griffith’s big break came in Brian De Palma’s 1984 thriller, Body Double.
De Palma was a “student of Hitchcock” which is sort of a polite way of saying that he ripped off the master of suspense shamelessly. Body Double borrows liberally from Hitchcock classics, Vertigo and Rear Window.
Griffith played a porn star who, you know what, I’m not going to explain the plot. It’s silly and anything I can tell you about it would constitute a spoiler. She played a porn star, okay?
Originally, De Palma intended to cast an actual porn star in the role. But you have to imagine the idea of casting Tippi Hedren’s daughter was too much for the Hitchcock-obsessed director to resist.
Body Double was mostly panned by critics. And understandably so. It’s hard not to laugh at the film’s excesses. It’s hard to tell whether or not De Palma intends this as a Hitchcock satire or an homage. While most critics dismissed the film, many singled out Griffith for praise.
The movie flopped at the box office. But it developed a cult following on video.
It is seriously ridiculous. Just watch Vertigo instead.
Posted on January 5, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged antonio banderas, brian de palma, don jonson, melanie griffith, something wild, tippi hedren, working girl. Bookmark the permalink. 125 Comments.