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. 161 Comments.

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