IT MAY GO DOWN AS THE QUICKEST NON-divorce on record. On Friday, March 11, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Melanie Griffith. 36, citing irreconcilable differences, filed for divorce from her husband of nearly five years (this time), Don Johnson, 44. Yet even as the papers were being processed, the couple was attending a play at their children’s school near Aspen. Scant hours later, their publicist announced that the divorce action had been withdrawn and called it “an impulsive act that occurred during a moment of frustration and anger.” The next night Griffith told an interviewer, “I have terrible PMS, so I just went a little crazy.”
Sources close to the couple, however, tell a different story—one that hinges on Johnson’s drinking. Though he joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1983, the actor was seen reportedly knocking back wine and tequila at Planet Hollywood in Aspen last January. And during the shooting of Griffith’s latest film, Milk Money, says one crew member, “I saw [Johnson] drink, I saw how much, and when someone drinks like that, you’re at their mercy.” The couple’s spokesperson, Elliot Mintz, has said, “It would be untrue if I told you he still abstains from alcohol.” Nor were these the only signs of trouble. Sources say that Johnson openly berated his wife when the two were shooting the movie Paradise together four years ago. Later, while filming the remake of Born Yesterday, Johnson, according to an executive, stormed off the set shouting at his wife, “Don’t call me back until you learn your goddamn lines.”
All of this scarcely dovetails with the image of mutual adoration the couple has projected since 1988, when Griffith herself entered the Hazelden clinic in Center City, Minn., seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Following their remarriage in 1989 (they were previously married in 1976 and divorced less than a year later), they retreated from Hollywood to their 20-acre ranch near Aspen, where they hike, bike and ski with their three kids (Alexander. 8, Griffith’s son from her marriage to actor Steven Bauer; Jesse, 11, Johnson’s son from his four-year relationship with actress Patti D’Arbanville, and Dakota, 4, their daughter).
What surprised some of Griffith’s friends wasn’t her decision to file for divorce, but the fact that she didn’t make it sooner. As a Milk Money crew member puts it: “I think she filed to get [Johnson] to wake up and look at the problems in the marriage and in himself.”