Though she had been behind the camera since she was nine months old, it wasn’t until 1988 when she hit the big time with ‘Working Girl’. Starring alongside Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, and Joan Cusack, she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.
In one review of the comedy-drama directed by Mike Nichols, Variety magazine praised her role as secretary Tess McGill writing, “Griffith stands apart, both for her eagerness to break out of her clerical rut and her tenacity dealing with whoever seems to be thwarting her.”
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.
The Rise and Fall of a Passionate Love
Melanie appeared in 'The Harrad Experiment' as an extra. She happened to be hanging out on the set because her mother, Tippi, played opposite Don Johnson in the film, and that’s when Mel met him. She couldn’t know at the time that he would take her on a path of turmoil that would lead to a lifetime of substance abuse issues.
Though they lived and partied together for three years, they were only married for six months—from January to July 1976. When it started falling apart, she began focusing on work and distancing herself from Johnson. It was then she reached the difficult realization that her marriage had failed.
A New Love
After a wild ride with Don Johnson, she would have more pain to deal with, only this time it was also physical. Melanie was attacked by a lion during the filming of 'Roar', her mother’s big cat production in 1981, which was directed by her stepfather, Noel Marshall. The scene made the cut. For her part, she required facial reconstruction surgery. Just a year before, she was hit by a car and hospitalized after walking across Sunset Boulevard while intoxicated.
Finally, something went right that same year, when she was introduced to Steven Bauer. They met while filming the TV movie "She’s in the Army Now". Not long after, she moved to NY, and they were married. They had their first child, Alexander Griffith, in 1985. When the marriage dissolved, she spiraled back into a pattern of heavy drinking.
The Wake-up Call
It all seemed like self-medication to her. She used substances to calm her anxieties and escape her internal suffering. One day, on the set of 'Working Girl', a message hit home. Director Mike Nichols sat her down. She arrived at the set drunk one too many times, and he gave her a warning.
In an interview with Parade, she divulged, “I wasn’t very concerned about my future.” She also talked about how using substances had become all too normal for her.