Melanie spent her childhood and adolescent years with her mother in Los Angeles and traveled to the East coast frequently to be with her father. Just your typical bi-coastal custody arrangement. Her mom remarried when she was seven years old. Agent and producer Noel Marshall became part of her family.
As for her dad, he remarried model and actress, Nanita Greene, soon after the divorce went through. Together they had two children, actress Tracy Griffith and set designer Clay A. Griffith.
A Unique Childhood Education Plan
Melanie did not have a normal childhood. She didn’t sit through the tedious grind of an average public school all day long, day in and day out, and she didn’t have a soccer mom shuttling her and her teammates to games, practices, and team parties for hours on end every single week. In fact, her mom was probably practicing lines or filming a shoot.
She set Melanie up at the Hollywood Professional School in Hollywood, California. It was a private school established for showbiz kids who could study in the mornings and attend scheduled acting gigs in the afternoons. Melanie was an excellent student. She skipped a grade and finished early. She was just 16 years old when she graduated.
A Family Broken by Divorce
Like many families, Melanie’s parents did not stay married. She was born in NYC to Tippi Hedren and advertising executive, Peter Griffith, on August 9, 1957. Her parents separated when she was two and filed for divorce when she was four. It wasn’t long after that until her father left their home.
Growing up, her time was split between staying with her mom in Los Angeles and at an animal conservatory in Antelope Valley, California, and spending time with her dad in Manhattan.
Adolescence, Fame, and Don Johnson
Melanie met Don Johnson long before he was universally known as the sexiest man on TV. Those ’80s days when he would play a private detective on 'Miami Vice' were yet to come. Later, she would land a role on that same show, and their romance would burn bright again. But getting back to when they first met, she fell wildly in love with Johnson when he was just 22 years old. And if you think that’s young, Mel was a full eight years younger.
At 14, Melanie's mom allowed her to move in with Johnson. The lovebirds met on the set of "The Harrad Experiment". Three years later, they married. It didn’t last long, but their passionate romance is legendary. In the end, adolescence, fame, and Don Johnson did not add up to stability. The two partied often and found themselves dependent on substances. The wild and crazy lifestyle took a toll on Melanie.
The First Trip to Rehab
Her first trip to recovery came after her first divorce from Don Johnson. She emerged sober and admitted that she has an “addictive personality.” She told New Idea magazine that she was lucky to be alive, despite feeling disconnected from the program. “I was never as bad as some people I knew. But I did do a lot of drinking,” she said.
“I just thought I was having a good time.” With a celebration every weekend and parties every night at never-ending Hollywood clubs and socials, who wouldn’t think that way? It was a good time, for a while.