TV Guide
August 5, 1989

Mr. Whipple Squeezed Her First
Written by Ileane Rudolph

If it weren’t for a certain sly, self-deprecating wit, you might take Perfect Strangers’ Melanie Wilson for a naive, cornfed Iowa product. But don’t let the 27-year-old’s perky blonde looks or sunny enthusiasm fool you. You could say she’s a born actress: she made her first appearance at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Her first TV role, in fact, was prenatal; her mother, dancer Meg Brown, played on Dennis the Menace when she was five months pregnant with Melanie.

Wilson is also the offspring of Dick Wilson, better known for 25 years as Mr. Whipple of "puleez don’t squeeze the Charmin" fame. Melanie, who recalls telling a teacher that her father was "a drunk" – he was the resident inebriate on Bewitched and would take her with him to the set – claims she learned to read by running lines with her father from Bewitched scripts.

As a teen, Wilson was a voracious reader who had been moonlighting in the theater from the age of 10. Graduating from high school at 16, she managed to avoid Tinseltown’s fabled fast life so thoroughly that she didn’t see her first named man until majoring one semester in "pastries and tanning" at a university on the French Riviera. "I was sitting in a restaurant on the beach in Saint-Tropez, I turn to order – and I’m looking right into his . . . uh. I wanted to write a little – ‘Dear Mom and dad, school doing fine, saw my first male appendage, love to Grandma.’ Europe expanded my horizons, and not only academically."

Her first break came when a one-shot on ABC’s Perfect Strangers turned into a regular role as stewardess Jennifer. In three years, to Wilson’s chagrin, Jennifer "has managed to kiss [love interest] Larry [Mark Linn-Baker] a total of two-and-a-half times. We practice safe kissing."

Married to the contractor she hired to build closets for her new home – "had I known he’d move in a year later and rip out all the work he did, I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars" – she still tends to "read and stay home. At 84, I’ll probably say, ‘Hey, I’m ready to go out partying.’"

A self-described character actress, Wilson says she "never looked at [herself] as a blonde ingénue coming to Hollywood to take it by storm. I have very realistic expectations, because I was raised in the business. But I always knew I would act. Being the daughter of the toilet-paper king of North America, who was also the nation’s leading drunk, what chance did I have to do anything else?"