What the Hell Happened to Melanie Griffith?

Melanie Griffith

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?

Melanie Griffith and her mother, Tippi Hedren - 1966

Melanie Griffith and her mother, Tippi Hedren – 1966

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.  Although, Hitchcock probably never slept with a lion.

Melanie Griffith and pet lion Neil

Melanie Griffith and pet lion Neil

Yes, Griffith grew up with a lion named Neil for a pet.

Melanie Griffith and Neil the Lion

Melanie Griffith and Neil the Lion

Hedron later regretted allowing a full-grown lion to sleep in her daughter’s bed and hang out by the pool.  “We were stupid beyond belief to have that lion in our house,” she admitted.  I’m guessing she feels the same way about Don Johnson.

Griffith’s biological father, Peter Griffith, 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 agent/producer, Noel Marshall.  Given this upbringing, it is no surprise that Griffith started doing commercials at nine moths old.  At the age of 12, Griffith made her movie debut with an uncredited role in the Glenn Ford movie, Smith.

Melanie Griffith - Harrad Experiment - 1973

Melanie Griffith – Harrad Experiment – 1973

At age 14, Griffith had another uncredited role in her mother’s movie, The Harrad Experiment.  James Whitmore starred as a college professor who oversees a bizarre and controversial social experiment at Harrad College.  The experiment involves pairing up incompatible members of the opposite sex to make them confront their sexuality.  Hedren played Whitmore’s wife who helps oversee the shenanigans.

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson at the wrap party for The Harrad Exeriment

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson at the wrap party for The Harrad Experiment

Don Johnson, who was 22 years old at the time, played one of the horny college co-eds in the movie.  Despite a seven-year age difference, Griffith and Johnson began dating.  Three years later, they were married.  According to Griffith, their relationship was failing and they decided to tie the knot out of desperation.  “We thought if we were married and it still didn’t work, we’d divorce.”  Six moths later, that’s exactly what happened.

Melanie Griffith - The Drowning Pool - 1975

Melanie Griffith – The Drowning Pool – 1975

In 1975, Griffith graduated to credited roles.  In The Drowning Pool, Griffith (who was seventeen at the time) played a promiscuous whose mother is caught up in a blackmail scheme.  Her mother was played by Joanne Woodward who in real life was married to the movie’s star, Paul Newman.  Newman reprised his role from the 1966 film, Harper, in which he played a detective.  The sequel was not as successful as the original.

Melanie Griffith - Smile - 1975

Melanie Griffith – Smile – 1975

Later that year, Griffith played a beauty pageant contestant in Michael Ritchie’s satirical comedy, Smile.  Bruce Dern starred in the movie which was adapted into a musical by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman in the eighties.

Next: Night Moves and Joyride


Posted on January 5, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 181 Comments.

  1. @MelanieGriffith to guest star on @ThePathOnHulu:


  2. Melanie Griffith reveals she felt ‘stuck’ in her marriage to Antonio Banderas… as she admits she was ‘hurt’ by comments about her botched plastic surgery


    • I think Melanie Griffith is a solid actress, but in the looks department, I don’t know, I thought the three men she married were better looking for their sex than she was for hers. In re-watching the “Miami Vice” episode ‘By Hooker By Crook’ last week (of course I did), I found myself being more physically interested in actresses other than Melanie Griffith there, such as Veronica Cartwright, Vanity (I know she wasn’t REALLY an actress, but she played one in the era of the late 1980’s often enough), and Janet Constable (who played a receptionist, and who was also in an early Vice episode titled ‘One-eyed Jack’, which guest starred Dan Hedaya!!!). I’ve just find Melanie Griffith (younger or older, 1970’s or 1990’s, surgery or no), looks wise to be kind of common.


      • The notion that she used to be beautiful is made up, invented. Well [as I’ve said before] maybe for a split second circa Milk Money she was beautiful, thanks to quality surgery, but other than that, no way. I just think it’s unfair to HER that people are saying things like “she was so beautiful before surgery.” Come on! She was downright unattractive as a young woman:


        • I agree, you can’t lose something if it wasn’t ever there to begin with. To be fair, I STILL haven’t seen all of “Fear City” (kind of afraid to), but from what I’ve viewed I think she looks pretty good in that film (it was the way she wore her makeup & the length of her hair for me there).


        • Griffith may not have been a conventional beauty ala Michelle Pfeiffer, but I thought she was attractive in a lot of early film roles like Fear City, Cherry 2000 or Something Wild.


        • I think her greatest strength though, was her personality, that’s what won me over in her roles in “Something Wild” and “Working Girl”. It might be what carried the day for her all along anyway.


        • For myself, actresses with unconventional looks that come first to my mind are Karen Black & Rosanna Arquette. I believe asking every actress to look like Michelle Pfeiffer is just too high an expectation overall though.


        • Actually, Pfeiffer is not someone I’d cite as an example of perfect beauty. She has an alien look to her. Kim Basinger is the gold standard.


        • “Fifty Shades Darker” opens with a laughably terrible 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.


          I think that a little less of the better DNA components in that family’s lineage appear to descend with each subsequent generation.

          Tippi was gorgeous. Not a great actress but she held her own well enough to be tolerable.

          Only thing I ever liked Melanie in was WORKING GIRL. She looks hard, used, like a cleaned up onetime heroin addict and that childlike delivery had a short lifespan. People don’t like hearing women over 30 doing baby talk. Well, save maybe Georgia Engel.

          Dakota, is there any other allegedly ‘hot’ young actress out there who is more bland, mediocre, less exciting to watch ? I’m sorry but she’s completely blah.


          reply 221 6 minutes ago


      • Gluserty’s opinion was the general consensus back in the day. It was even addressed in the biography doco A&E did on her. They showed an interview with Antonio where he was almost defensive because people wanted him to explain why he chose her. He said “She’s beautiful in my concept of what beauty is.”


        • Antonio Banderas & her were married for quite awhile, and Don Johnson married her twice, so she must have been bringing something to the table. I guess that outside the camera she’s a lot of fun?


        • Yeah, I think so. She really does have a great personality. She’s hobnobbed with all the big names in Hollywood and you never hear anything suggesting she’s unpleasant to be around.


        • I’ve never heard anything negative either, just the usual personal tabloid fodder.


  3. I think she was a beautiful young lady. All this trash talk about her looks is ugly and unnecessary . Her talent is true and that’s what makes a person beautiful. Character.


  4. Their special bond revealed: Kris Jenner, 61, gushes about her ‘girl’ Melanie Griffith, 59, on IG… after the two connected over painful divorces


  5. I felt like taking a shower after this entry. Of course, that’s entirely a reflection of the Melanie Griffith Experience and not on you, Lebeau. I’ve never thought much of Griffith as an actress but her voice, look and vibe were uncommonly soft and thus made her watchable and likable. More importantly, Melanie Griffith’s life before adulthood…DEAR GOD. I read about the lions a couple of years ago with that movie’s re-release, but the nudity at such a young age…reminded me of the Christian Slater article. I do my best not to moralize about parenting and believe in personal responsibility, but some of this Hollywood crap is terrifying and it’s easy to see how these young actors can grow into seriously troubled adults.


    • Also, “In Born Yesterday, Griffith played a ditzy blonde showgirl who only recently learned about the holocaust. (I may have added that last detail.)”

      Comments like this are always a highlight!


  6. Melanie Griffith celebrates 60th birthday by ‘sending love and light’

    The star started the celebration bright and early by going on a special walk with her dog and sharing few words of wisdom with her fans.


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