The Extraordinary Life of Melanie Griffith

Melanie Griffith’s life has been an incredible rollercoaster ride, both personally and professionally. Born on August 9, 1957, in New York City, Melanie Griffith comes from a lineage of talented individuals. Her mother is the renowned actress Tippi Hedren, famous for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, The Birds. Melanie made her screen debut at the tender age of 12 and has since become an iconic actress, gracing the silver screen in numerous noteworthy productions.

While her career soared to great heights, Melanie’s personal life garnered significant attention. She has been married three times, one of which was to the esteemed Antonio Banderas. She has also experienced the challenges of rehab and has raised three children. Her children from her first two marriages, Alexander Bauer and Dakota Johnson, faced a challenging upbringing, particularly due to their mother’s struggles during that time.

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Melanie Griffith was undeniably a captivating figure in the 1980s. She exuded an erotic and sexual aura that is often associated with European actresses, setting her apart from her American counterparts. Furthermore, she possessed remarkable acting abilities, although it appears that Melanie herself may not have fully realized her true potential.

Personally, I adored Melanie Griffith in the movies “Working Girl” and “Paradise.” Her performances truly captivated audiences and showcased her talent.

However, Griffith’s life, upon reflection, has been a mix of incredible moments and tragic experiences. Throughout her journey, the renowned actress has faced a car accident, battled with drinking problems, and endured three divorces. From the very beginning, she was exposed to the immense pressure of show business due to her mother’s superstardom. Her childhood was exceptionally extravagant, even by Hollywood standards, as her mother married agent and producer Noah Marshall, leading to the extraordinary decision of welcoming a lion into their home.

Growing up in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Melanie Griffith had the unique experience of sharing her home with a pet lion named Neil. Life Magazine even documented this extraordinary event, featuring pictures of Tippi Hedren resting on Neil’s back and the lion sleeping under blankets in Melanie’s bed. Looking back, Griffith recognizes the absurdity of it all, describing the experience as “stupid beyond belief.” While she didn’t encounter any incidents with Neil, there was a subsequent encounter that didn’t end well.

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Melanie Griffith’s acting career began with a commercial when she was just a baby. She continued to do commercials and modeling work until the age of 12 when she made her uncredited debut in the film “Extra!” At 14, she appeared in “The Harrad Experiment,” where she met her first significant love interest, actor Don Johnson. Despite their eight-year age difference causing some controversy, their love prevailed. Melanie moved in with Don Johnson at the age of 15, and they got engaged on her 18th birthday. Tippi Hedren, Melanie’s mother, initially worried about the relationship due to her daughter’s age, but eventually accepted it.

Griffith and Johnson married in Las Vegas in 1976 but divorced after only six months. However, they rekindled their romance and exchanged vows for a second time in 1989.

In 1981, Melanie Griffith starred in the film “Roar,” a project that involved her mother and stepfather raising lions for the purpose of shooting the movie. Unfortunately, the set of “Roar” proved to be dangerous, and Melanie suffered an injury while in front of the camera.

Despite the ups and downs, Melanie Griffith’s journey has been one filled with remarkable achievements and significant challenges. Her talent and resilience have made her an enduring presence in the world of cinema.


In a harrowing incident, Melanie Griffith endured a near-fatal attack that left her mauled near the eye. The fear of losing her sight became all too real, requiring her to undergo plastic surgery. Meanwhile, her mother Tippi Hedren faced the complications of gangrene, necessitating skin grafts, as detailed in a piece in the New Yorker.

Reflecting on the incident, Melanie Griffith acknowledged that the lioness didn’t intend to harm her. However, after growing up around lions for seven years, she had momentarily forgotten the need for caution. It served as a stark reminder that safety can never be guaranteed, and even a single blow can have devastating consequences.

Despite the terrifying experience, Melanie Griffith persevered and continued her acting career, albeit without the presence of live wild animals. She appeared in notable films such as “Body Double,” “Something Wild,” and “Working Girl,” which earned her an Academy Award nomination in 1989.

During the 1980s, Griffith also embarked on a new romantic chapter, marrying actor Steven Bauer in 1981. Four years later, they welcomed their son, Alexander Bauer. However, their relationship eventually ended in divorce in 1989. It was during this time that Griffith rekindled her love for Don Johnson. Although they divorced again in 1996, they had already welcomed their daughter, Dakota Johnson, who has since become a prominent actress known for her roles in “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “The Social Network.”

Dakota Johnson’s childhood was marked by turbulence due to her parents’ divorce when she was just seven years old. She experienced frequent relocations, attended different schools, and even underwent periods of homeschooling. Growing up, she often found herself on film sets with her parents, which fueled her desire to become an actress.

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However, the family situation brought much trouble to Dakota Johnson’s early life, leading her to start therapy at the young age of three. She sought extensive help, acknowledging the need for support throughout her challenging journey.

Dakota Johnson’s childhood could have easily set her on an unfavorable path, but a new figure soon entered her life, changing everything. She expressed the need for stability and found it in her stepfather, Antonio Banderas. In 1996, the same year Griffith and Don Johnson divorced, Banderas also went through a divorce with Ana Leza, whom he had been married to for nine years. Banderas had long admired Melanie Griffith, having seen her in films like “Gone Girl” and encountering her on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

“The first time I attended the Academy Awards after we received a nomination for ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,’ we walked the red carpet, and I saw this blonde woman. I recognized her from the movies but couldn’t recall her name at that moment,” Banderas shared in an interview with Vulture.

“So, I asked Pedro Almodóvar, ‘Who is she? What is her name?’ Pedro said, ‘That’s Melanie Griffith!’ That was it. Oh my God. Six years later, I was married to her.”

Dakota Johnson’s relationship with her stepfather, Antonio Banderas, began when they met on the set of the comedy film “Two Much” in 1995. They discovered a shared dissatisfaction with their respective marriages, and Antonio and Melanie recognized each other’s circumstances.


Antonio Banderas was instantly drawn to Melanie Griffith during their collaboration. He found her funny, generous, sweet, and beautiful. After “Two Much,” they stayed in touch, and in May 1996, they tied the knot. Later that year, they welcomed their daughter, Stella.

Antonio Banderas not only became a father to Stella but also a stepfather to Alexander, Melanie’s son from her second marriage to Steven Bauer, and to Dakota Johnson.

For Alexander and Dakota, Antonio Banderas became a vital presence in their lives, providing the stability they longed for. Initially, it was challenging for the children to accept him because they didn’t know how long he would stay.

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“I was completely inexperienced. Suddenly, I had a 6-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy, and Stella came along almost immediately,” Banderas shared with AARP. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God!’ But as soon as the kids realized that I was there for the long haul, they were fine. They needed a solid foundation to grow. Once I understood that, I started building my relationship with them, gradually assuming the role of a father.”

Antonio Banderas played a transformative role in Dakota Johnson’s life. Her childhood had been filled with stress and uncertainty, but with Banderas, she found a stepfather who taught her many valuable lessons, including “true passion and discipline.”

The kids affectionately refer to Antonio Banderas as “Paponio,” a blend of “Papa” and “Antonio.”

In 2019, during an award ceremony where Antonio Banderas received the Hollywood Actor Award, Dakota Johnson and Melanie Griffith presented him with the trophy. In her speech, Johnson expressed gratitude for having a stepfather who played an influential role in her life, bringing a bright light, creativity, and culture. She emphasized the love and fierce commitment he showed to her mother and siblings, acknowledging how it had changed all of their lives.

The bond between Antonio Banderas and his stepchildren remained strong even after his divorce from Melanie Griffith in 2014. Despite no longer being married, their family connection endured. Banderas is currently in a relationship with Nicole Kimpel but ensures that he spends time with his stepchildren and ex-wife whenever he is in Los Angeles.

The divorce between Antonio and Melanie was not acrimonious, much to the relief of their stepchildren, as Banderas explained. He cherishes the time they spent together and continues to love Melanie. He proudly considers Dakota Johnson as his own daughter.

“I remember those years as very vibrant and truly beautiful. Although I am no longer married to Melanie, she is still my family. She is probably one of my best friends, if not the best friend I have. My family is there, Dakota, little Estella, and Alexander,” Antonio Banderas shared in an interview with Vulture in 2019.

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“I met her when she was five years old,” he added. “I witnessed every step of her journey. I’m so proud of her. I recently saw her in Toronto, and when I posted a picture of her and myself on social media, I wrote, ‘My radiant Dakota.'”

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