Griffith’s father was a well-known businessman, while her mother, Tippi Hedren, starred in a number of Hitchcock films. Melanie's parents divorced when she was four, and she moved to California with her mother.
Tippi helped her land her first role in 'The Harrad Experiment'. One of her co-stars was the 22-year-old Don Johnson, and Melanie moved in with him at fourteen. Melanie lived with Johnson until she was eighteen, when the couple were married. They divorced a year later.
Melanie's career looked promising but, unfortunately, the collapse of her marriage had left her struggling emotionally, escalating the drug and alcohol habits that she had picked up. One night, leaving a restaurant drunk, she was struck by an oncoming car. She acquired such a reputation that studios were no longer considering her for film roles.
She started doing television work, where she met her second husband, Steven Bauer. He helped her to overcome her drug and alcohol problems and got her to take acting classes with Stella Adler in New York.
The classes paid off, as director Brian De Palma cast her as a pornstar in 'Body Double' (1984). Her performance won her rave reviews and the Best Supporting Actress Award by the National Society of Film Critics. Director Jonathan Demme was so impressed with her performance that he gave her the title role in 'Something Wild' (1986) without even auditioning her.
The birth of her first child, Alexander, in 1985, didn't help to save her struggling marriage, and she and Bauer divorced shortly thereafter. Melanie reconciled briefly with first husband Don Johnson, and he directed her in a guest appearance on his hit TV series 'Miami Vice' (1984) in 1987, before they again went their separate ways.
Melanie's career reached new heights in 1988 when Mike Nichols cast her in the title role of 'Working Girl', a box-office hit for which she received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress and won the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Comedy. However, her ongoing substance abuse problems almost destroyed her career yet again, and Nichols pushed her into a rehabilitation clinic. En route to the clinic she called ex-husband Johnson for support, and they reconciled after her release from the clinic.
She got pregnant and they remarried in 1989, and soon after their daughter Dakota Johnson was born. A sober Melanie concentrated on her film career, but the films she chose often flopped badly, particularly 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' (1990). Even though she gave heartfelt performances in all her films, she was often miscast, with her breathy little-girl voice not helping matters in her role as a spy in 'Shining Through' (1992) and as a homicide detective going undercover in the Hassidic Jewish community in New York City in 'A Stranger Among Us' (1992).
Melanie had a child with Johnson before the couple filed for their second divorce in 1996. She and Antonio Banderas had fallen in love and were married in a quiet ceremony that same year. A few months later they had a daughter, Stella.
The new marriage seemed to rejuvenate her career, as seen in 1996's 'Mulholland Falls'. Nevertheless, Melanie's addictive personality continued to haunt her, and she underwent rehab.
Melanie's marriage to Antonio Banderas has proved enduring until June 2014, when they divorced.
In 2003, she turned her attention to the Broadway stage and emerged with a rave review from the New York Times theater critic and packed houses for her turn as the murderess Roxie in the musical 'Chicago'. It renewed her confidence, as she had never sang, danced or been on the Broadway stage before.
Her latest film roles have included 'Dark Tourist' (2013) and 'Autómata' (2014).