Melanie Griffith shares four children with her former partners, Stephen Bauer, Don Johnson and Antonio Banderas
For Melanie Griffith, there’s no better role than mom.
The actress is a mother of four: She shares son Alexander Bauer with ex-husband Steven Bauer, daughter Dakota Johnson and stepson Jesse Johnson with ex Don Johnson and daughter Stella Banderas with former husband Antonio Banderas.
Melanie has stayed close with the fathers of her children, telling PEOPLE in 2020, “All three of them are my friends. I love them with all my heart.”
She also said their are "endless possibilities" now that her children are all grown up. “I’ve been taking this time to figure out my future,” the actress shared, adding that she was spending her days working on a memoir and "going through all the photos and heirlooms that I have as a result of my family, my kids, my husbands."
In July 2023, Melanie showed off her love for her children with a new tattoo. The ink — which replaced her '90s-era tattoo tribute to her then-husband Antonio, featured the first names of her four children in crossword-style design.
Here’s everything to know about Melanie Griffith’s four children, Jesse, Alexander, Dakota and Stella
Jesse Johnson, 40
Don and his then-partner Patti D'Arbanville welcomed their son Jesse on Dec. 7, 1982. When Don remarried Melanie in 1989 (they were previously married for six months in 1976), she became Jesse's stepmom.
Jesse grew up in Aspen, Colorado, and has shared his love of the outdoors and sports. "I had the privilege of going to these great schools that prided themselves on a really extensive outdoor curriculum so I got to do things like whitewater kayaking as an elective," he said in a 2009 interview with Top Cat Films.
During his childhood and young adulthood, Jesse attended several public events with Melanie and Don, including the premiere of Hook in 1991 and a charity event in 1997.
The Miami Vice actor's first child followed in his footsteps, making his acting debut as a teenager in Don's hit TV series Nash Bridges. Later, Jesse studied theater at Occidental College in Los Angeles, graduating in 2004 and appearing in popular shows including Hawaii Five-0, Twin Peaks, Grey's Anatomy and NCIS. He is also a musician.
Melanie and Jesse have continued to have a relationship, too. In 2016, the pair were photographed spending Christmas in Aspen together, and in 2022, Melanie shared photos on Instagram from a big family Thanksgiving celebration, which included Jesse.
Alexander Bauer, 38
Alexander Griffith Bauer was born to Melanie and her second husband, Steven, on Aug. 22, 1985. The parents met on set before marrying in 1981. They finalized their divorce in 1989.
Growing up, Alexander lived in L.A. with his mom and siblings. After his parents divorced, Steven welcomed another son, Dylan Bauer, in 1990. Meanwhile, Melanie married twice more and gave birth to Alexander's two sisters, Dakota and Stella.
Despite having two actor parents, Alexander has stayed mostly out of the spotlight, acting, writing and doing camera work for only two projects between the years 2013 and 2015.
Melanie often shares photos of Alexander. In 2019, she shared a tribute to her two sons on Instagram. “Happy National Sons Day ♥️ These extraordinary guys,” she wrote alongside a photo carousel of Jesse and Alexander. “I love you both so much.”
In another post, she shared a throwback photo of her and her younger son spending some quality time together. “Roller blading with my Dude Alexander 😘 1998,” she captioned the snapshot.
Dakota Johnson, 34
After her split from Steven, Melanie reunited with her first husband, Don, and the pair welcomed their daughter Dakota on Oct. 4, 1989.
The newest addition to the blended family was born in Austin, Texas, where her father was filming at the time. Dakota grew up in Colorado and California, but with both of her parents working as actors, she spent a lot of time moving from place to place.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2022, she opened up about her childhood. “My life is incredibly lucky and privileged, and the life I led growing up was remarkable — the places I went and how we lived and what we were able to experience,” Dakota said. “But we also struggled with internal family dynamics and situations and events that are so traumatic.”
Her parents separated when she was 4 years old and divorced two years later. Then, in 1996, Dakota's family changed again when Melanie married her third husband, Antonio. At the 2019 Hollywood Film Awards, the actress praised her stepdad while presenting him with the Hollywood Actor Award.
“When I was 6 years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light and a whole new world of creativity and culture,” Dakota said. “He loved my mother and my siblings and I so fiercely, and so big and so loud that it would change all of our lives forever. Antonio taught me about true passion and discipline.”
With such a famous family — Alfred Hitchcock's muse Tippi Hedren is her maternal grandmother — it’s no surprise that Dakota has followed in their footsteps. Initially, however, her parents discouraged her from becoming an actress.
“They wanted me to have as much of a childhood as I could,” Dakota said in a 2022 interview with W Magazine. Still, she always knew she wanted to act. “I couldn't wait because I grew up on set,” Dakota added. “My parents were always working with amazing artists, and I just loved it. I wanted to be a part of it so badly.”
She made her film debut at the age of 10 with a minor role in Crazy in Alabama alongside her mother. But Dakota's big break came in 2015 when she starred in Fifty Shades of Grey.
“I was so happy for her when she called me,” Melanie said in 2015 about her daughter’s career-making franchise — though she admitted she wouldn’t be watching it. “She would be very uncomfortable if I saw it, and I would be very uncomfortable if I saw it.”
Dakota's dad felt the same way. “I would never see that,” Don told PEOPLE in 2018. “As a father, there are certain images that you don’t need in your head.”
In 2017, Dakota started dating musician Chris Martin. The Coldplay singer was previously married to Gwyneth Paltrow, with whom he shares two children, Apple and Moses. Dakota and Martin live together in Malibu, California, but they've said they frequently head to L.A. for family dinners with Paltrow.
“We’ve been together for quite a while, and we go out sometimes, but we both work so much that it’s nice to be at home and be cozy and private,” Dakota told Elle in 2021.
For her part, Melanie couldn’t be happier for the pair. “I love my daughter’s boyfriend,” she told PEOPLE in 2019. “I think that they’re an awesome couple.”
Stella Banderas, 27
On Sept. 24, 1996, Melanie welcomed her third child, Stella del Carmen Banderas, with her then-husband Antonio. Like her father, Stella was born in Spain and speaks both English and Spanish. After nearly 20 years of marriage, her parents announced that they were separating and they finalized their divorce in 2015.
The former couple have maintained a close relationship, though. During an interview with Vulture in 2019, the Mask of Zorro actor praised his ex-wife. “I am not married with Melanie anymore, but she is my family,” Antonio said. “She is probably one of my best friends, if not the best friend that I have. My family is there, Dakota, little Estella and Alexander.”
In 2021, Stella filed to legally change her name by removing the surname “Griffith.” According to court documents, the decision was one of practicality. “I typically do not use ‘Griffith’ when referring to myself or on documents,” she wrote in the filing. “So, dropping the name would match my regular use.”
Stella has pursued a career in the family business, first joining her sister and mother in 1999's Crazy in Alabama and later, working as a model, actress and entrepreneur. In 2021, she launched Lightbound, a beauty and fragrance brand.
“I’ve put all my love and energy into @thisislightbound and am so excited to share the space on the site as well as the first product,” Stella announced on Instagram. “A genderless, handcrafted, and sustainably packaged perfume oil reminiscent of and inspired by my intertwined upbringing between Málaga and Los Angeles.”
Melanie shared a post in support of her daughter. “Stella has launched her very beautiful perfume oil!!” she wrote. “Take a look, try the scent, enjoy! It’s as beautiful as she is!”
In a joint interview with Vogue in 2021, Stella credited her mother with inspiring her perfume venture. “Seeing her relationship to scent and touch and making a beautiful space for herself, I found love in the same ritual of self-care,” she said.
Stella also called Melanie “fearless, fierce and radiant” and praised her as a mom. “She wasn’t the typical mother growing up. We had a very open relationship where no topic was really off limits,” she said. “This allowed me to build immense trust with her which in turn gave me the freedom to express myself without fear of judgment.”
Melanie agreed, saying that it was important to have an open relationship with her children. “I consciously spent and still spend a lot of time with my kids. I talk about everything with them,” she said. “With Stella, because she is my youngest, I think she has gotten the best version of me as her mama.”
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