A Walk Through the Maze of Melanie Griffith’s Marriages and Her Struggle with Substance Abuse

To modern fans and followers of Hollywood, the name Melanie Griffith might not immediately ring a bell. This is because she was a star of 80s and 90s cinema. However, you might know her or may have heard of her as the mother of Dakota Johnson. She is her second child from three marriages to film stars, Don Johnson, Antonio Banderas, and Steven Bauer.

Besides her multiple marriages, Melanie Griffith, in what a more cynical mind might describe as quintessential Hollywood, has dealt with substance abuse. It was a struggle that contributed to her withdrawal from the limelight for several years, and one she has overcome to return to the forefront of American cinema once again.

Melanie Griffith Met Her First Husband in 1972

The Working Girl actress was just 14 years old when she met her first husband, Don Johnson, who was 22 at the time, in 1972. The two met on the set of The Harrad Experiment, and despite the age difference, began a relationship. Within a few months, they moved in together and dated for three years.

When Melanie Griffith turned 18 on August 9, 1975, they got engaged and married a few months later in January 1976. The wedding was impromptu, and Don had been spending his time with the former Miss World, Marjorie Wallace, on the night they decided to get married.

Melanie and Don flew to Las Vegas the following day and legalized their three-year relationship. The shotgun marriage, however, ended as quickly as it started. They got divorced after six months in July 1976 and went their separate ways in pursuit of other relationships.

Their Second Marriage Lasted Longer Than the First

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson
Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson: image source

After their first divorce, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson found their way back to each other. They reconnected and got married for the second time in June 1989. They held their wedding this time, in an intimate ceremony at their ranch in Aspen. In attendance, aside from their family and friends, were their respective children from their previous marriages who served as ring bearers.

Their second time as a married couple lasted five years and produced one daughter, Dakota Johnson. She was born in the same year they remarried on October 4, 1989. During their second rodeo as husband and wife, they were one of Hollywood star couples, and Melanie described Don as her first love.

When they later parted ways in 1994, they cited irreconcilable differences as the cause of their impending divorce, which they completed in 1996. Despite the separation, the duo has remained close and have expressed a shared admiration for each other.

Her Marriage to Steven Bauer Which Lasted Eight Years

Melanie Griffith and Steven Bauer
Melanie Griffith and Steven Bauer: image source

After her first marriage with Don Johnson ended, Melanie dated actor Ryan O’Neal and then Steven Bauer. She met the latter on the set of the TV movie, She’s in the Army Now. They began dating, and after they completed filming, they got married in 1981.

Unlike her relationship with Don Johnson, her marriage to Steven Bauer was relatively quiet. The two were married for eight years, during which they gave birth to one son, Alexander Griffith Bauer, on August 22, 1985. They got divorced in 1989, and Steven, in the same year, went on to marry the actress, Ingrid Anderson.

Melanie, on the other hand, as discussed earlier, rekindled her relationship with Don Johnson and married the Miami Vice actor again. She also maintains an amicable relationship with Steven, post-divorce.

Her Fourth Marriage and Third Husband was Antonio Banderas

Melanie Griffith
image source

After parting ways with Don Johnson for the second time in 1994, Melanie Griffith gave marriage one last try. Keeping in line with the theme of her previous marriages, they met on the set of the 1996 film Two Much, and they got married in the same year.

They got married on May 14, 1996, at Marylebone Town Hall in London, and gave birth to their only child, Stella del Carmen Banderas, in the same year. She was born on September 24, 1996. Strictly by longevity, her marriage to the Spanish actor was her most successful, lasting 18 years following a separation in 2014. They completed their divorce in December 2015.

The exact cause of their divorce remains unknown, as they cited irreconcilable differences in their divorce papers and public statement. However, a couple of years after the divorce, Melanie revealed she was undergoing a lot of stress, which led her to suffer from seizures. According to her, they ended after she and the Legend of Zorro star parted ways.

Regardless, like her previous husbands, Melanie has a good relationship with Antonio. The actor has described her as one of his best friends, and Melanie has posted messages appreciating him on her social media channels. She also has a tattoo of Banderas on her right arm. Out of her all her ex-husbands, only Antonio Banderas has stayed unmarried after their divorce.

Most of Melanie Griffith’s Children Live a Quiet Life

If you ask Melanie Griffith, after four marriages and three husbands, she no longer believes marriage is relevant. However, she is grateful for the fruits of her marital unions, i.e., her three children, Dakota Johnson, Alexander Bauer, and Stella Banderas.

Despite being born to active and successful actors, only one of them, Dakota, has followed in her parent’s footsteps. She has appeared in movies such as Social Network, The Five Year Engagement, and 21 Jump Street. She is, however, most famous for her role as Anastasia Steele in the widely popular Fifty Shades Trilogy. Dakota has received several awards, including Favourite Dramatic Movie Actress at the 2016 People’s Choice Awards and Female Star of the Year at the 2018 Cinema Con.

Melanie with Antonio and her three children: image source

Her siblings, on the other hand, live a quieter life outside of the attention that comes with acting. Her only acting credit came via a minor role when she was a child in her parents’ film, Crazy in Alabama. Otherwise, she has lived a relatively quiet life, building a close relationship with her siblings, and completing her education. She has also done some modeling for the mental health advocate, Madhappy and the beauty brand, Violet Grey.

As for the only man among the Griffith children, Alexandra Bauer, he is a writer and cinematographer who worked on the short film, Kazoo’s on First?. He also served as a member of the camera and electrical department for the short film, Holding, and the film, This Loneliness. Alexander also appeared in his only acting role in the latter.

Melanie Griffith’s Addiction Problem Began when She was 18

Melanie got an early introduction to Hollywood and, unfortunately, its destructive side. By the time she was 18, the actress was living a life consumed by sex and drugs. From the age of 10, she drank wine freely, metastasizing into strong liquors when she got older.

Together with her first husband, Don Johnson, the Buffalo Girls actress admittedly had a rock and roll lifestyle that involved a lot of alcohol and cocaine. Driven by a massive sense of insecurity and a series of emotional turmoil, including her divorce from Steven Bauer, she checked into rehab for the first time in 1988.

Encouraged by her Working Girl director, Mike Nichols, and Don Johnson, Melanie spent her first rehab stint at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. After a decade, in 2000, Griffith was back in rehab again, with active support from her husband at the time, Antonio Banderas.

At this time, Melanie was struggling with painkiller addiction, developed after she suffered a neck injury. In 2009, she returned to rehab again, however, not out of a relapse. She reportedly checked in for three months as part of her doctor’s recommendations to keep her healthy long term.

At the start of her second rehab stint, Melanie Griffith began publishing her journey to beat substance abuse in an online journal. Although there haven’t been any reports of relapse, she hasn’t updated the journal since 2012. For now, the actress is presumed healthy and back to being an active member of America’s acting community.

She Found International Fame with her Role in Working Girl

Melanie may have had the sort of life that outsiders imagine when they think about Hollywood stars. Still, she has also had a long and enviable career. Born to acting icons, Tippi Hedren and Peter Griffith, Griffith began working at the age of 12. She made her debut appearance onscreen as an extra in the 1969 film, Smith! before playing her first significant role in 1975’s crime-thriller, Night Moves.

Her performance in the film, where she appeared nude in multiple scenes, attracted the attention of several filmmakers. She consequently appeared in other films like Smile and The Drowning Pool. As years passed, Melanie’s filmography grew, but none of them resulted in a national breakthrough.

Her popularity waned as her first battle with addiction in the early 80s slowed her career. Following her return to acting, she made a huge splash in her role as Holly in the 1984 film Body Double. In it, she played a pornographic film actor, and her performance earned her an award from the National Society of Film Critics for Best Supporting Actress.

Two years after, she recorded more success with her role in the comedy film, Something Wild. She starred alongside Jeff Daniels, as a mysterious woman who coincidentally gets involved with a straight-laced banker. Her performance earned her a nomination from the Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

Eventually, after years of putting up her best onscreen, Melanie Griffith found mainstream success in 1988 via her role as Tess McGill in Working Girl. She played the courageous secretary alongside other acting big names like Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver. The role earned her an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Actress.

More Than 85 Credits in her Filmography and Over 20 Award Nominations

Since reaching one of the pinnacles of Hollywood with her Oscar nomination, Melanie Griffith has starred in an additional 60+ films and TV shows. Some of her most notable works post-Working Girl include Pacific Heights, Shining Through, A Stranger Among Us, and Paradise.

Despite a decline in her popularity and star power, Melanie has continued working as an actress. Her recent roles include The Disaster Artist, The High Note, Hawaii Five-0, and Pirates of Somalia. As of 2020, she has appeared in more than 86 films and TV shows.

Aside from a robust filmography, her career also includes several award nominations. So far, she has more than twenty of them, including the Golden Globe and Academy awards. Her other nominations include three additional Golden Globes, Primetime Emmy Awards, BAFTA Awards, New York Film Critics Circle, and Sant Jordi Awards. Out of over 20 nominations, she has won at least 12 of them.

Ngozika loves nothing more than to turn information into an exciting, delightful, and compelling article that informs and educates, inspires, and motivates the reader.
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