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Melanie Griffith
Melanie Griffith 2016 crop.jpg
Griffith in 2016
Melanie Richards Griffith

(1957-08-09) August 9, 1957 (age 66)
New York City, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1969–present
(m. 1976; div. 1976)
(m. 1989; div. 1996)
(m. 1981; div. 1989)
(m. 1996; div. 2015)
Children 3, including Dakota Johnson
Parent(s) Peter Griffith
Tippi Hedren
Relatives Tracy Griffith (half-sister)

Melanie Richards Griffith (born August 9, 1957) is an American actress. She began her career in the 1970s, appearing in several independent thriller films before achieving mainstream success in the mid-1980s.

Born in Manhattan, New York City, to actress Tippi Hedren and advertising executive Peter Griffith, she was raised mainly in Los Angeles, where she graduated from the Hollywood Professional School at age 16. In 1975, 17-year-old Griffith appeared opposite Gene Hackman in Arthur Penn's neo-noir film Night Moves. She later rose to prominence as an actor in films such as Brian De Palma's thriller Body Double (1984), which earned her a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. Griffith's subsequent performance in the comedy Something Wild (1986) attracted critical acclaim before she was cast in 1988's Working Girl, which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won her a Golden Globe.

In the 1990s Griffith performed in a series of roles which received varying critical reception; she received Golden Globe nominations for her performances in Buffalo Girls (1995), and as Marion Davies in RKO 281 (1999), while also earning a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her performances in Shining Through (1992), as well as receiving nominations for Crazy in Alabama (1999) and John Waters' cult film Cecil B. Demented (2000). Other credits include John Schlesinger's Pacific Heights (1990), Milk Money (1994), the neo-noir film Mulholland Falls (1996), as Charlotte Haze in Adrian Lyne's Lolita (1997), and Another Day in Paradise (1998).

She played the voice of Margalo in Stuart Little 2 (2002), and later starred as Barbara Marx in The Night We Called It a Day (2003), and spent the majority of the 2000s appearing on such television series as Nip/Tuck, Raising Hope, and Hawaii Five-0. After acting on stage in London, in 2003, she made her Broadway debut in a revival of the musical Chicago, receiving celebratory reviews. In the 2010s, Griffith returned to film, starring opposite her husband Antonio Banderas in the science-fiction film Autómata (2014) and as an acting coach in James Franco's The Disaster Artist (2017).

Life and career

1957–1969: Early life

Melanie Richards Griffith was born on August 9, 1957 in Manhattan, New York City, to actress Tippi Hedren and Peter Griffith, a former child stage actor and advertising executive. Griffith's paternal ancestry is Welsh, while her maternal ancestry is Swedish, Norwegian, and German. Her parents separated when she was two years old, after which she relocated to Los Angeles with her mother; they divorced two years later, when Griffith was four. After divorcing Hedren, her father married model-actress Nanita Greene and had two more children: Tracy Griffith, who also became an actress, and Clay A. Griffith, a set designer. Her mother married agent and producer Noel Marshall when Griffith was seven years old.

During her childhood and adolescent years, she lived part of the time in New York with her father and part-time in Antelope Valley, California, where her mother formed the animal preserve Shambala. Griffith appeared in advertisements and briefly worked as a child model before abandoning the career, citing extreme shyness as the reason. While attending the Hollywood Professional School, Griffith was advanced in her studies, which allowed her to skip a grade level and graduate at age 16.

1969–1979: Career beginnings and first marriage

Griffith's first onscreen appearances were as an extra in Smith! (1969) and The Harrad Experiment (1973). While on the set of the latter film, Griffith met actor Don Johnson. The two began dating, and the relationship culminated in a six-month marriage from January to July 1976. After divorcing Johnson, Griffith subsequently dated Ryan O'Neal.

She had her first major role at age 17 in Arthur Penn's film noir Night Moves (1975). Griffith's performance in Night Moves drew attention to her and she was subsequently cast in two 1975 films: the comedy Smile, playing a pageant contestant, and Stuart Rosenberg's The D... Pool, a thriller in which she portrayed the daughter of a Louisiana woman (played by Joanne Woodward) involved in a crime investigation. She was also named Miss Golden Globe for 1975, helping out at the Golden Globe Awards.

In 1977, she had a supporting part playing a hitchhiker in the Lamont Johnson-directed sports drama One on One. Griffith appeared in the Israeli experimental film The Garden. The same year, she had a supporting role in Joyride opposite Robert Carradine, in which she played a young woman who leaves California with her boyfriend, hoping to start a fishing company in Alaska.

1980–1988: Breakthrough and motherhood

Griffith appeared opposite her mother, Hedren, in the exploitation film Roar (1981), directed by her then-stepfather Noel Marshall. In the film, she portrayed the daughter of animal-keepers Madeleine (Hedren) and Hank (Marshall), whose various wild animals turn on them. Roar was a project devised by Hedren and Marshall, and has retrospectively been deemed one of the most dangerous film productions of all time. Filming of Roar had begun in 1970 and was intermittent over the following decade. Also in 1981, Griffith appeared as a Women's Army Corps recruit in the made-for-television movie She's in the Army Now (1981) with Jamie Lee Curtis and Steven Bauer. Shortly after completing the film, Griffith and Bauer married.

Griffith gave birth to her first child, Alexander Griffith Bauer, on August 22, 1985, with Bauer. The following year, she had her first starring role opposite Jeff Daniels in Jonathan Demme's comedy Something Wild (1986), playing a mysterious woman. Griffith's performance earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. She subsequently starred opposite Sean Bean, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sting in Mike Figgis's neo-noir Stormy Monday (1988), portraying an American woman who becomes embroiled in her ex-boss's plot to acquire a jazz club in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Redford Milagro Cannes 1988
Griffith with Robert Redford and Sônia Braga, Cannes Film Festival 1988

Griffith achieved mainstream success when Mike Nichols cast her as spunky secretary Tess McGill in the box-office hit Working Girl (1988), co-starring Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, and Joan Cusack. Variety noted of her performance: "Griffith stands apart, both for her eagerness to break out of her clerical rut and her tenacity dealing with whomever seems to be thwarting her." Griffith was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. The film marked a professional shift for Griffith earning her accolades as an A-list actress.

Griffith and Bauer separated prior to her appearance in Working Girl. In 1988, Griffith reconnected with Johnson, and the two remarried on June 26, 1989.

1989–1995: Mainstream success

On October 4, 1989, Griffith gave birth to her second child, daughter Dakota Johnson, with Don Johnson. After her pregnancy, Griffith began filming the thriller Pacific Heights (1990), directed by John Schlesinger. The same year, she reunited with De Palma in The Bonfire of the Vanities, a black comedy in which she portrayed a Southern belle gold-digger.

Don Johnson & Melanie Griffith
Griffith with then-husband Don Johnson at the APLA benefit in September 1990; Johnson and she appeared in two films together in the 1990s.

She was then cast in a lead role in Paradise (1991), a remake of the 1987 French film The Grand Highway, opposite then-husband Don Johnson, Elijah Wood, and Thora Birch. In 1992, she starred as Linda Voss, a German Jewish secretary in Berlin, opposite Michael Douglas in Shining Through, a World War II-set drama based on the 1988 novel of the same name. Desson Howe of The Washington Post was critical of Griffith's portrayal of a German accent, writing: "In all fairness, Griffith shouldn't be lambasted for her incompetent accent. She should be lambasted for her acting, too. That baby voice of hers -- what's the deal with that? It's a liability in most of her movies. Here, it's completely ludicrous." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, however, noted Griffith as being "cannily cast" and "just about perfect".

She followed this with the Sidney Lumet-directed A Stranger Among Us, in which she portrayed a police officer posing as an Orthodox Jew. Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel criticized Griffith's speaking in the film, writing: "When Griffith tries to speak in the crude manner of a streetwise cop, her baby-doll voice turns the words into strained peaches. And while she's capable of projecting the wounded quality that the role demands, she's completely unconvincing when it comes to conveying a detective's intelligence...  The miraculous thing about A Stranger Among Us is that Melanie Griffith's performance doesn't entirely ruin it. In fact, though the movie has other problems, there are sections that work quite well."

In the summer of 1992, Griffith filmed the comedy Born Yesterday (1993), a remake of the 1950 film, in the role for which Judy Holliday won an Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1994, Griffith headlined the romantic comedy Milk Money. The same year, she had a supporting role in Nobody's Fool, a drama starring Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, and Bruce Willis. In the film, Griffith portrays the wife of a contractor (Willis) who has disputes with a free-spirited older man (Newman) in an upstate New York town. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times noted both Willis and Griffith as "somewhat less reliable" than Newman and Tandy.

Griffith and husband Johnson separated in March 1994, reconciled later that year, but separated again in May 1995, eventually divorcing in 1996. In the midst of her separation, she appeared in an ensemble cast in the coming-of-age drama Now and Then, playing an actress who returns to her Indiana hometown to reunite with her childhood friends. The same year, she starred opposite Anjelica Huston and Reba McEntire in the Western miniseries Buffalo Girls, based on the 1990 novel of the same name. Tom Shales of The Washington Post wrote of the series that "Huston, Griffith, and McEntire make it not just bigger than life but, at times, better." For her performance, she was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television film.

1996–2002: Independent films and producing

Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
Griffith and then husband Antonio Banderas at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival

In 1996, Griffith co-starred with Antonio Banderas in the comedy Two Much (1996). Banderas and she began a relationship during the film's production, and were married that year. After their respective divorces were finalized, Griffith and Banderas married on May 14, 1996, at Marylebone Town Hall in London. Their daughter, Stella del Carmen Banderas, was born on September 24, 1996. Following Two Much, Griffith starred in the neo-noir Mulholland Falls (1996), playing the wife of a Los Angeles police detective (played by Nick Nolte), a performance that won her the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Critics such as Roger Ebert praised the film as "the kind of movie where every note is put in lovingly. It's a 1950s crime movie, but with a modern, ironic edge," but the film was a box office flop.

Griffith was cast in the role of Charlotte Haze in Adrian Lyne's 1997 adaptation of Lolita, opposite Jeremy Irons. The film received a brief theatrical run and was subsequently shown on television, and grossed only $1.1 million against a $62 million budget. Caryn James of The New York Times noted that Griffith was "ideally cast as the annoying, widowed Charlotte. With her garish red nails, her screeching voice, her affected diction, Charlotte seems unbearable to the professorial Humbert." In 1998, Griffith had a supporting part playing a famous actress in Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998). She followed this with a starring role in Larry Clark's independent film Another Day in Paradise, opposite James Woods. Roger Ebert praised the performances, writing: "Woods and Griffith play types they've played before, but with a zest and style that brings the movie alive--especially in the earlier scenes, before everything gets clouded by doom."

In 1999, she starred in Crazy in Alabama, a film directed by Banderas and produced by Greenmoon Productions, the company that Banderas and she formed together. This was followed by a role in the HBO television film RKO 281, in which Griffith portrayed 1920s and 1930s movie star Marion Davies. For her performance, she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

In 1999, Griffith was cast as Honey Whitlock, an arrogant actress kidnapped by a gang of underground filmmakers, in John Waters's black comedy Cecil B. Demented. Speaking on her being cast, Waters commented that Griffiths possessed "a combination of a good sense of humor and a little bit of defiance. Like me, she's someone with a past who has made peace with it. Nobody can blackmail her. So she's happy." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote of that while the film's jokes are "hit-and-miss," Griffith "has a ball tweaking her diva image". Also in 2000, Griffith acted opposite Patrick Swayze in Forever Lulu.

Griffith had a minor role in the 2001-released youth-oriented independent film Tart, which she co-produced with Banderas under their Green Moon Productions company. The film starred Griffith's former Lolita co-star Dominique Swain, as well as Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, and Mischa Barton. In 2002, she voiced the character of Margalo the bird in the animated film Stuart Little 2.

2003–2012: Theater and television

In August 2003, Griffith made her Broadway debut playing Roxie Hart in a run of the musical Chicago. The run was a box-office success. Though Griffith was previously untrained in song and dance, she still impressed New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley, who wrote: "Ms. Griffith is a sensational Roxie, possibly the most convincing I have seen" and "[the] vultures who were expecting to see Ms. Griffith stumble...will have to look elsewhere." Charles Isherwood of Variety noted some weaknesses in Griffith's performance, such as her singing and dancing abilities, but conceded:

These undeniable weaknesses ultimately are overridden, at least for this veteran of at least a half-dozen Chicago casts, by Griffith's fresh and thoroughly endearing take on the role. From the show's opening moments, when Roxie looks on with a sullen, confused pout as her lover prepares to hightail it out of her unsatisfactory life, Griffith infuses her perf with a natural vulnerability that gives her Roxie a refreshing authenticity. The contours of the character fit Griffith's screen persona like a lace glove: Inside this Roxie, a knowing woman playing the little girl lost, is a real little girl lost.

She returned to the stage in 2012 in a play written by Scott Caan, titled No Way Around but Through, in which she played his mother. She played Caan's mother again during 2014–16 in a recurring role on his television show Hawaii Five-0. In 2016, she filmed with Caan's father James Caan and Jon Voight in a TV movie titled J.L. Ranch.

Prior to Hawaii Five-0, Griffith's television work included the short-lived WB sitcom Twins (2005–06), and the 2007 series Viva Laughlin, which was canceled after two episodes.

Her 2012 television pilot, This American Housewife (produced by Banderas), was not picked up by Lifetime. In the interim, Griffith guest-starred on Nip/Tuck and Hot in Cleveland.

2013–present: Return to film

In June 2014, Griffith and Banderas released a statement announcing their intention to divorce "in a loving and friendly manner". According to the petition filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, the couple had "irreconcilable differences" that led to the divorce. In December 2015, their divorce was finalized. Banderas has stated that he will always love Griffith, and Griffith appeared alongside Banderas in the 2014 science-fiction film Autómata, which they filmed amid their divorce proceedings. She then had a role in Day Out of Days (2015), directed by Zoe Cassavetes. In 2016, she signed to be a guest star on Hulu's The Path.

In 2017, Griffith costarred opposite Al Pacino and Evan Peters in The Pirates of Somalia (originally titled Where the White Man Runs Away), a biopic about journalist Jay Bahadur; and played Jean Shelton in James Franco's The Disaster Artist, a comedy based on Greg Sestero's book of the same name. In mid-2018, Griffith played Mrs. Robinson in a stage version of The Graduate at the Laguna Playhouse in California. In August 2018, she revealed she had undergone further and "final" surgical treatments to remove skin cancer from her face.


Griffith supports the efforts of Children's Hospital Los Angeles helping to lead Walk for Kids, a community 5K, to raise funds as part of the hospital's community awareness efforts in support of the opening of a new state-of-the-art pediatric inpatient facility. She also participated in the hospital's 2012 Noche de Niños gala as a presenter of a Courage to Care Award.



Year Film Role Notes
1969 Smith! Extra Uncredited
1973 The Harrad Experiment Extra Uncredited
1975 Night Moves Delly Grastner
The Drowning Pool Schuyler Devereaux
Smile Karen Love
1977 The Garden Young Girl
One on One The Hitchhiker
Joyride Susie
1981 Roar Melanie
Underground Aces Lucy
1984 Body Double Holly Body National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (2nd place)
1985 Fear City Loretta
1986 Something Wild Audrey Hankel aka Lulu Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
1987 Cherry 2000 Edith 'E' Johnson
1988 The Milagro Beanfield War Flossie Devine
Stormy Monday Kate
Working Girl Tess McGill Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress (3rd place)
1990 In the Spirit Hadley
Pacific Heights Patty Palmer
The Bonfire of the Vanities Maria Ruskin Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
1991 Paradise Lily Reed
1992 Shining Through Linda Voss Goldene Kamera Award for Best International Actress
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
A Stranger Among Us Emily Eden Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
1993 Born Yesterday Billie Dawn Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
1994 Milk Money Eve - 'V'
Nobody's Fool Toby Roebuck
1995 Now and Then Tina 'Teeny' Tercell
Two Much Betty Kerner Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
1996 Mulholland Falls Katherine Hoover Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
1997 Lolita Charlotte Haze
1998 Another Day in Paradise Sid
Shadow of Doubt Kitt Devereux Direct-to-video
Celebrity Nicole Oliver
1999 Crazy in Alabama Lucille Vinson Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
2000 Cecil B. Demented Honey Whitlock Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
2001 Tart Diane Milford Direct-to-video
2002 Searching for Debra Winger Herself Documentary film
Stuart Little 2 Margalo The Bird Voice
2003 The Night We Called It a Day Barbara Marx Direct-to-video
Nominated—Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Shade Eve
Tempo Sarah James Direct-to-video
2010 A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures Snow Voice
2012 Yellow Patsy
Dino Time Tyra Voice
2013 Dark Tourist Betsy Direct-to-video
2014 Autómata Susan Dupré
Thirst Sue Short film
2015 Day Out of Days Kathy
2017 The Disaster Artist Jean Shelton
The Pirates of Somalia Maria Bahadur
2020 The High Note Tess Sherwoode


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Once an Eagle Jinny Massengale Miniseries
1978 Daddy, I Don't Like it Like This Girl in Hotel Television film
1978 Starsky & Hutch Julie McDermott Episode: "The Action"
1978 Steel Cowboy Johnnie Television film
1978 The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Stacey Blain Episode: "The House on Possessed Hill"
1978 Carter Country Tracy Quinn 2 episodes
1979 Vega$ Dawn Peters Episode: "Red Handed"
1981 The Star Maker Dawn Barnett Youngblood Television film
1981 She's in the Army Now Pvt. Sylvie Knoll Television film
1981 Golden Gate Karen Television film
1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Girl Episode: "Pilot"
1987 Miami Vice Christine von Marburg 1 episode
1990 Women & Men: Stories of ... Lureen Television film
1995 Buffalo Girls Dora DuFran Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1998 Me & George unaired TV pilot
1999 RKO 281 Marion Davies Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2000 Along for the Ride Lulu McAfee Television film
2005 Heartless Miranda Wells Television film
2005–2006 Twins Lee Arnold Series regular, 18 episodes
2006 Robot Chicken Hermione Granger / Love-a-Lot Bear / Bashful Heart Bear Episode: "Password: Swordfish"
2007 Viva Laughlin Bunny Baxter Series regular, 8 episodes, but only 2 aired
2010 Nip/Tuck Brandie Henry Episode: "Sheila Carlton"
2011 Hot in Cleveland Melanie Griffith Episode: "Sisterhood of the Traveling SPANX"
2012 American Housewife Leila Swift Unaired Lifetime series
2012 Raising Hope Tamara 2 episodes
2012 DTLA Kimberley 2 episodes
2013 Call Me Crazy: A Five Film Kristin Television film, segment: "Maggie"
2014–2016 Hawaii Five-0 Clara Williams 4 episodes
2015 The Brainy Bunch Grandmother unaired TV pilot
2016 J.L. Family Ranch Laura Lee Schafer Television film aka Texas Blood
2017 The Path Jackie Episode: "Return"
2019 SMILF Enid 1 episode

See also

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