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Antonio Banderas Changed Melanie Griffith’s Kids' Lives ‘Forever’ Following Her 3 Failed Marriages

Oyin Balogun
Jan 28, 2022
12:20 A.M.
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When Spanish actor Antonio Banderas married actress Melanie Griffith in 1996, no one could have predicted the impact he would have on his five-year-old stepdaughter, Dakota Johnson, and her siblings. 

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In 1995 actress Melanie Griffith struggled with substance abuse, suffered through three divorces, and was a single mother to two young children in desperate need of a father figure. 

Her life was far from perfect until she met Antonio Banderas on the set of the movie "Two Much," and the actor turned out to be the answer to her prayers. 

Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith during the launch of Antonio Banderas New Fragrance "Antonio" [left]. Antonio Banderas arrives with his daughter Stella. [right] | Photo: Getty Images

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GRIFFITH'S RELATIONSHIP WITH DON JOHNSON

In 1972, Melanie Griffith and her mother, Tippi Hedren, co-starred in the movie "The Harrad Experiment." 

During filming, 14-year-old Griffith met 20-year-old Don Johnson while they were waiting for a set up in the stairwell of an Anheuser-Busch Estate. The pair started talking, and Griffith was instantly attracted to how good Johnson looked. 

Griffith was just 15 years old when she and Johnson moved in together. Three years later, on her 18th birthday, they got engaged. Afterward, they flew to Las Vegas and got married. 

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Melanie Griffith and actor Antion Banderas attend the First Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards on June 3, 1995 | Photo: Getty Images

Unfortunately, their marriage did not last very long, and the pair divorced just after six months. After that, Griffith dated actor Ryan O'Neal for a while, and when they broke up, she married Steven Baur, who she starred with in the movie "She's in the Army Now."

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After tying the knot, Griffith and Bauer welcomed their son Alexander Griffith Bauer. Sadly, the couple divorced soon after in 1989. On the other hand, after divorcing Griffith, Don dated actress Patti D'Arbanville.

The pair later had a son together, Jesse Johnson. Surprisingly, in June 1989, years after their first marriage and subsequent divorce, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson remarried. 

Melanie Griffith and actor Don Johnson attend the Police Athletic League's 17th Annual Superstar Dinner Salute to Donald Trump on May 12, 1989 | Photo: Getty Images

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Their second wedding ceremony was held at their ranch in Aspen. The couple's sons from their respective previous relationships, Jesse Johnson and Alexander Griffith Bauer, served as ring-bearers at the event. 

After tying the knot for the second time, Griffith explained that their connection remained strong even though they were apart for a while.

She said: "We were always friends, and we always stayed in touch. There was always this connection. I can't explain it. It's almost like soulmates, and it always was. I didn't want it to be like that sometimes, and sometimes I didn't want to love him."

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson pictured the First Annual Fire & Ice Ball to Benefit Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program in 1990. | Photo: Getty Images

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After remarrying, the couple welcomed their daughter Dakota Johnson, and it looked like they were getting it right. Sadly, their relationship turned sour after five years, and they separated. Their divorce was finalized in 1994. 

DAKOTA JOHNSON'S CHILDHOOD STRUGGLES 

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson struggled with substance abuse during their second marriage, which affected their daughter Dakota. Griffith was drinking a lot and doing cocaine which led her into rehab in 1998 and 2000. 

Griffith asserted she was still a functioning mother throughout her struggles. She never passed out on the floor and was mostly there for her kids. 

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Melanie Griffith, actor Antonio Banderas, Melanie's daughter Dakota Johnson and Melanie's son Alexander Bauer attend the "Batman & Robin" Westwood Premiere on June 12, 1997 | Photo: Getty Images

On the other hand, Don struggled with addictions to painkillers and alcohol. He shuttled in and out of rehab for a while. He was also a famous womanizer.

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Their daughter Dakota struggled to deal with the family's attention from the media because of how famous they were. As a child, she was also very rebellious and wild. 

Dakota was also moved from one school to another because her parents moved around a lot. At one point, she was homeschooled. Unfortunately, Dakota could not learn everything she would have if she had had stability.  

As a teenager, she was sent to a Catholic boarding school to get a little stability and discipline, but the youngster was regularly bullied by her schoolmates. 

Portrait of Antonio Banderas | Photo: Getty Images

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Dakota became miserable at school and started getting into various troubles, including getting a tattoo on her neck and bicep. Due to being exposed to and dealing with adult issues at a very young age, Dakota had to go to therapy and get help. 

ANTONIO BANDERAS BECOMES STEPDAD

Antonio Banderas had long admired Melanie Griffith after seeing her in "Gone Girl" before seeing her on the red carpet at the Oscar Award Ceremony. 

Afterward, Griffith and Banderas co-starred in the 1995 comedy movie "Two Much." They were both unhappily married at the time, and they recognized that in each other. 

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Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith & their daughter Stella Carmen. | Photo: Getty Images

Banderas loved how funny, sweet, bright, generous, and beautiful Griffith was. After the movie, the co-stars kept in touch and eventually admitted their feelings for one another. 

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The pair got married in 1996, and their daughter Stella was born soon after. Banderas became a father for the first time and, in addition, stepfather to Dakota Johnson and Alexander Bauer. 

The actor explained it was difficult for the kids to accept him because they were not sure he would be with their mother Griffith for long. 

Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, daughter Stella Banderas, Melanie's son Alexander Bauer and Melanie's daughter Dakota Johnson at "The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride" Westwood Premiere on October 20, 1998 | Photo: Getty Images

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After they realized he was there to stay, the kids warmed up to him. He also recognized the children needed stability to grow, and within a year, they saw Banderas as their dad. 

His parenting style was also in contrast to Griffith's. The kids talked to him about things they would not tell their mother. He was the philosophical one, while Griffith was the disciplinarian. 

Dakota Johnson, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith at a red carpet event in New York | Photo: Getty Images

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DAKOTA JOHNSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO BANDERAS

Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith remained married for almost 20 years before they sadly divorced in 2015. At the Hollywood Film Awards, Antonio Banderas was presented with the Hollywood Actor Award for his performance in "Pain and Glory" by Dakota.

Now a globally recognized actress, thanks to her stunning performance in "Fifty Shades Of Grey" and its sequels, Dakota heaped praises on Banderas for his impact on her as a child.

She said: "I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life. When I was six years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light, a whole new world of creativity and culture, and one remarkably magical little sister into our family."

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Antonio Banderas, winner of the Hollywood Actor Award, and Dakota Johnson pose during the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards | Photo: Getty Images

Dakota said Banderas was so vibrant and funny that he loved her, her mother, and her siblings so fiercely and loud it changed their lives forever. 

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She credited him for teaching her about authentic passion and discipline. As a grown woman, she has also recognized how incredibly talented Banderas is due to being an actor, director, writer, and singer. 

While talking about his relationship with Griffith, Banderas once said Dakota was just five when he met her, and they have bonded over the years. She is also his daughter, and he would love her always. 

Jesse Johnson, Dakota Johnson, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith and Tippi Hedren at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival's "Una Noche con Antonio Banderas" Screening | Photo: Getty Images

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He admitted that Dakota means a lot to him and is one of the reasons his marriage to Melanie Griffith was worth it. The Spanish actor also declared that their relationship was not dead despite his divorce from Griffith. He said

 "We're going to keep seeing each other. We will continue. The family isn't dead, not at all."

He also confessed that even though Griffith is not his wife anymore, they are still best friends. He loves her and would continue to until the day he dies. 

Antonio Banderas and actress Melanie Griffith attend the after party for the "Black Nativity" premiere at The Red Rooster on November 18, 2013 | Photo: Getty Images

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Melanie Griffith has also said starting a family with Banderas after two divorces was exciting for her. Griffith is clearly on good terms with her ex-husbands, and she once proclaimed her love for them. She said

 "All of my husbands, my three husbands — I love them all so much, and we're all very close."

Griffith has since said getting married again does not interest her, although she would like to revive her acting career and start getting movie parts.

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