Melissa was first introduced to Salem in 1971, the subject of a "Who Fathered the Baby" storyline. Mickey Horton had had an affair with Linda Patterson.


When Linda became pregnant, Mickey told her that although he would fulfill his financial responsibilities, he intended to stay married to his wife, Laura. When the baby girl was born, Mickey was deeply hurt to learn that he was not Melissa's father after all. Jim Phillips, the child's actual father, ended up marrying Linda. By the end of the year, they had taken Melissa and moved to Boston.

Several years later, Linda returned to Salem with Melissa. Learning that Mickey had suffered amnesia and was no longer married to Laura, Linda decided to take full advantage of the situation. In hopes of rekindling a relationship with him, Linda told Mickey that Melissa was his daughter. Fortunately, Linda's ailing husband Jim wrote Maggie, Mickey's fiancee, a letter, warning her of Linda's devious nature. Laura told Maggie about Mickey and Linda's earlier relationship, effectively thwarting Linda's plans. Undaunted, Linda elected to remain in Salem with Melissa.

At the end of April in 1978, Linda married manufacturing mogul Bob Anderson.


The marriage was not to last long. In March of 1980, Bob suffered a heart attack and died. In his will, he had made provision for Linda, conditional upon her and Melissa leaving Salem. In order to get the money, Linda complied.

In 1982, a teenaged Melissa ran away from boarding school and ended up in Salem. Bob Anderson's daughter Mary had inherited Anderson Manufacturing from her father. When she died, she left half the company to Melissa. Adding to Melissa's good fortune, Mickey and Maggie gained custody of her.


The following year, Melissa caught gang member Pete Jannings stealing food. To prevent her from turning him in, Pete kidnapped Melissa and held her hostage at Maggie's farm outside of town. A snowstorm stranded them there, and in the time they spent together, Pete opened himself up to Melissa emotionally, and a bond was forged. Police caught up with them and arrested Pete, but he was released into the custody of Chris Kositchek.


Pete and Melissa began dating secretly, because of her parents' objections. Ultimately, Pete accidentally shot Mickey, the result of gang activity. Melissa was sent away to summer camp, but Pete of course followed her. The two were caught together, and Pete returned to Salem, determined to make enough money for him and Melissa to be able to leave town together. He took a job as a male stripper at a club called Beefcakes, but kept it a secret. It was there that he met and befriended an eccentric costume designer, Calliope Jones.


It was at about this time that Linda came back to Salem in disguise, using the name Madame DuPrix. She bought up several businesses in town, including Beefcakes and Melissa's shares in Anderson Manufacturing. A vindictive woman, she drugged Pete and got him into bed with her. Melissa found the two of them together and became enraged, breaking up with Pete.


Shortly thereafter, she took a job at a flower shop owned by Barry Reid. Little did Melissa know that the flower shop was merely a front for a drug operation. When Melissa learned the true nature of Barry's business, she blew the whistle. Barry, however, implicated Melissa in the illegal activity. With some assistance from Pete, Melissa left town, and ended up in a tenement apartment building, befriended by a girl named Ivy Selejko. Coincidentally, after he and Melissa had broken up, Pete had slept with Ivy, and she had become pregnant. In spite of his love for Melissa, Pete tried to do the right thing, and married Ivy.


Bo Brady found Melissa. She was shown leniency and sentenced to probation. On the rebound from Pete, Melissa found herself flattered by the attention she received from Ian Griffith, her parole officer (who also happened to be married).

True love won out in the end, and Pete and Melissa ended up getting back together. By the end of the year, Pete was divorced from Ivy and engaged to Melissa. They were married on Valentine's Day of 1985 in a double ceremony with Mickey and Maggie.


On their wedding night, an intruder broke in and knocked Pete out cold and then tried to attack Melissa, who was able to get away unharmed. Several weeks later, the identity of the attacker was revealed: it was Ian Griffith, whose attraction for Melissa had grown into obsession.

Melissa worked on getting her dance career started, and partnered with Russian dancer Lars Englund. Pete realized the growing attraction between his wife and her dance partner. He was injured in a forklift accident and remained paralyzed. His paralysis was psychosomatic, an unconcious effort to keep Melissa too guilt-ridden to leave him for Lars. This kept Melissa with Pete for a while, but she eventually did get together with Lars. However, when she injured her leg, ending her dance career, Lars left her.

After Kayla filed for divorce, Jack turned to Melissa for comfort. Her relationship with him was met by strong disapproval from her parents, Mickey and Maggie. Nevertheless, Melissa accepted Jack's proposal of marriage. His motivations for marrying Melissa were not so much out of love as they were political. He believed a married candidate had a better chance of being elected than a single man. Melissa left Jack at the altar however when she realized that she would never be able to live with his manipulative ways.

When Harper Devereaux poisoned Kayla, Melissa was framed for the crime. It was alleged that her love for Jack had made her so jealous of Kayla that she would do anything to remove the rival. Ultimately, she was proven innocent, but not before being arrested and sent to jail.

Melissa left town for a period after this, only to return in time to sing at a surprise anniversary party for Mickey and Maggie. Soon after her return to town, she learned that her cousin Jennifer was falling for her ex-beau Jack. Out of concern for Jenn, Melissa tried pushing her into a relationship with her own singing partner, Emilio Ramirez. Melissa began to develop feelings for Emilio herself. Later that year, he was found dead. Salem police detective Brian Scofield headed the investigation into Emilio's death, and in spite of the fact that he considered her the prime suspect, he and Melissa found themselves attracted to one another.


Melissa accepted a singing engagement on a dinner train, The Old West Express. Clues regarding the whereabouts of a weapon used in yet another murder in Salem pointed to the train. Brian, Jennifer, Jack, Eve Donovan, and Frankie Brady all boarded the train, and, with Melissa, began a search of the baggage car. Someone deliberately uncoupled the car from the rest of the train, sending it plummeting down the side of the mountain, leaving the group stranded in the snowy woods. They encountered a recluse, a young woman named Molly Brinker, who helped them get back to Salem.


When they got back to town, Melissa, who had fallen in love with Brian, finally admitted to him that Emilio had fallen to his death from an open window during a heated quarrel. Brian, who didn't fully believe her, felt he had no choice but to arrest Melissa and charge her with murder. Forensic evidence confirmed that Emilio's death had been accidental, clearing Melissa. Her relationship with Brian, however, had suffered irreparable damage, and Melissa decided she needed to get away from Salem. She and her younger sister Sarah moved to Nashville, TN, together to start a new life.


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