Things You Might Not Know About Melissa Joan HartPublished on April 17, 2018. Updated April 7, 2020
For many, Melissa Joan Hart will always be known as Sabrina, The Teenage Witch thanks to her iconic lead in the beloved series which lasted for seven seasons from 1996 to 2003. The actress has moved on both professionally and personally to other roles such as the lead in ABC’s Melissa & Joey and getting married and starting a family. Now she is not just an actress but a director, producer, singer, fashion designer, and businesswoman, yet she manages to stay out of the tabloids and remains one of the most likable and down-to-earth celebrities out there. Although she grew up in the spotlight and has always been very open with fans, there is still a lot to know about her so, here are 12 things you never knew about Melissa Joan Hart!
12. What’s In a Name?
While some celebrities go by only one name, Hart has decided to go by all three of hers and is professionally known as Melissa Joan Hart. She revealed she was named after the Allman Brothers son “Melissa” while her middle name was given to her after her maternal grandmother, Joan. Interestingly enough when she was in the eighth grade and going through her confirmation, she chose Catherine as her confirmation name, although it never became a part of her legal name and she decided not to use it professionally.
11. Being Friends With Britney Spears
Back in the late ’90s, Hart was one of the most notable young actresses of the time and Spears was the hottest pop star of the time. They joined forces and became friends when Hart starred in Spears’ music video for “(You Drive Me) Crazy” which was the theme song for Hart’s film Drive Me Crazy. With Spears being underage and very restricted by her security team, Hart hatched a plan to sneak the pop star away for some fun. “Britney and I did a lot of press together in New York, Utah, L.A., on the set of her video, on the set of Sabrina. So we did a lot together, a ton of awards shows and stuff. But yeah, I snuck her away from her bodyguard to take her because she just looked liked she needed to be around people her own age,” Hart explained. “One time I was like, ‘Do you want to get lunch?’ and she [turned to her team and] said, ‘Can I go to lunch?’ They said, ‘No, you can’t go to lunch, you have to go to the gym and then you have vocal lessons and then you have to be here, you have to be there, you have a commercial shoot, and then you have to get ready for tour next week.’ I was just like, poor girl. I was like, ‘Let’s pretend we’re just going to my mom’s house tonight and I’ll get you away and we’ll go dancing.’ So that’s what we did.” She revealed that they went to L.A.’s Club Cherry and she immediately lost Britney in the crowd after sneaking her in through a back door. “At the end of the night, I found her in a private booth with dozens of people kissing her ass as she basked in the attention and downtime she’d worked so hard for…Since then, Britney’s been snuck in and out of more backdoors than I can count, but I shudder to think that I first showed her how it’s done.”
10. Early Life
Melissa Joan Hart was born on April 18, 1976, to Paula and William Hart in Smithtown, New York. Her mother was a producer and talent manager while her father worked as a carpenter, shellfish purveyor, and oyster hatchery worker. Melissa was the eldest child of five that her parents had together: Trisha, Elizabeth, Brian, and Emily. In the early ’90s, her parents divorced and she and her siblings moved with their mother to New York City where her mother married television executive Leslie Gilliams. From that relationship, Hart has three half-sisters Alexandra, Samantha, and Mackenzie. After entering the entertainment industry at a young age, Hart didn’t have a conventional education, often working with tutors on-set, but in 1995 she enrolled in New York University; however, she never finished her degree because she earned the lead role in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in 1996.
9. Becoming an Actress
Hart’s on-screen career began at just the age of four when she was cast in a television commercial for a bathtub toy called Splashy. She was quickly cast in additional commercials and appeared in 25 before the time she turned five. Despite her continued success, she never knew her first commercial for Splashy’s didn’t actually go so well. Her mother ended up never telling her young daughter that only Hart’s hands were used in the final cut while a different little girl was used for any facial shots. Until she found out, Hart would tell all interviewers and potential employers about her big commercial break at such a young age. By nine years old she began landing small roles on TV but her big break came at the age of 14 when she landed the starring role in Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All which went on for four seasons.
8. Business Ventures
Aside from acting, singing and directing, Hart has expanded into the world of business beginning in May 2009 when she opened a candy story called SweetHarts in Sherman Oaks, California. Unfortunately, the store closed only two years later after a lawsuit from a former employee alleged wrongful termination and racial discrimination. Although SweetHarts reopened under new ownership it once again closed, this time permanently in 2015. In 2015, Hart along with her husband started a clothing line called King of Harts for little boys. “It’s really been such fun to start a business, to be a CEO, and to design these clothes and to go out to the trade shows and the factories, and we’re making it in the USA so I’m really excited about that. That’s such a fun adventure for me, my parents were entrepreneurs and so I like the idea of being in the business world. The art world, there’s nothing tangible. When I make the clothes, there they are, I get to touch them and feel them and have them and give them away!” she said of being a businesswoman and launching King of Harts.
7. Wild Child
Although Melissa Joan Hart has always seemed like one of the most innocent and sweet ’90s child stars, she pulled back the curtain on what her life was really like growing up as a celebrity in her memoir Melissa Explains It All! In the book she admitted to experimenting with drugs and having some very wild nights out, writing, “I experimented with weed, Ecstasy, mushrooms and mescaline for about a year and a half.” She added that her “third or fourth time on Ecstasy” was at the Playboy Mansion in 1999 and during the limo ride home she had a makeout session with another girl and was still high when she showed up for her infamous Maxim photo shoot the next morning. She did add that she never had an addiction. “I’ve never snorted or shot anything into my body, and the one time I was offered coke, which happened to be by Paris Hilton, I turned it down.” “I was kind of running with a bad crowd,” she explained. In the end, “I just didn’t enjoy taking drugs. I don’t like the loss of control.”
6. Early Romances
Throughout her career as a young star, Melissa Joan Hart had a lot of connections to many other young celebrities at the time and she has opened up about sneaking Britney Spears into clubs, going on vacation with NSYNC, and hooking up with some of her attractive co-stars. Hart revealed that before he was incredibly famous, she had a small tryst with Ryan Reynolds who was her co-star in the Sabrina, The Teenage Witch TV movie which launched the series. Although she had a boyfriend at the time, there was obvious chemistry between herself and Reynolds and he even bought her a beautiful and expensive watch. “He was 17 and I was, like, 19. I was like, ‘You’re too young for me.’ I wasn’t sure so I just grabbed him and started kissing him. You get a piece of jewelry like that, you gotta make out with the guy!” Hart revealed. She decided she wanted to be with her boyfriend though and even told him about what happened. Reynolds was not deterred and after filming on the TV movie wrapped he returned to New York to visit her, and yet again Hart decided she didn’t want to be with him. “I think he wanted something more but I decided I was going to stick with my boyfriend,” she explained.
5. Considering Other Careers
With a lot already on her resume, Hart’s career has gone further away from the spotlight in recent years, and as it turns out, she could have politics in her future like her Melissa & Joey character. “I have thought a lot about getting into politics. I’m getting really into being like a newshound and a news junkie, and I love to debate and talk about controversial topics with people. So, I don’t know, I think it would be really interesting. But not yet!” she told Buzzfeed.
4. Celebrity Feud
Although Hart admitted to many hot hookups or fleeting flings with stars such as Ryan Reynolds, Nick Carter and Jerry O’Connell (who she called a “man-whore”) at the height of her fame, there was one Hollywood stud who was not impressing her: Ashton Kutcher. In her memoir, the actress explained she twice tried to have Kutcher kicked out of her parties claiming he was always just making “smart a– remarks,” adding, “Ashton and I just didn’t get along.”
3. Personal Life
When Melissa Joan Hart finally met the man she was going to marry it was in a way because of Jerry O’Connell. The two were casually dating when they attended the Kentucky Derby together and at the party, O’Connell began flirting with other women. “Jerry and I had gone to high school and college together and he ignored me, and then we were at the Derby and he’s giving me all this attention and I was just newly single and I had planned I wasn’t gonna meet anyone at the Derby and we started hanging out… and then I met my husband Mark,” she explained. It turns out Mark Wilkerson was part of the band that was playing called Course of Nature and after she was introduced to him, she was immediately drawn to him. “The next morning at the Derby races with a massive hangover, Jerry is hitting on someone else and I was like, ‘Oh, I see how this is gonna be’. And then Jerry said to me, ‘When we get back to L.A., are we gonna hang out?’ and I said, ‘I don’t think so, I think I’ve met the man I’m gonna marry.’ I had just fallen for Mark so hard, so quickly,” she said. The two were married on July 19, 2003, and have welcomed three sons: Mason, Braydon, and Tucker.
2. Televised Wedding
Having finally found “the one” Hart decided she was going to have all the preparations for their wedding which took place in Florence, Italy documented for a TV miniseries. The project was entitled Tying the Knot and was produced by her own production company, Hartbreak Films. “I actually asked for it because I thought it would be cool to have professionals really shooting the bachelorette party and the bachelor party and the engagement party and the bridal shower and going with me to try on my dress. And I’ll have it all on video. I’m going to produce it so I’ll have total control,” said Hart.
1. Missed Role
Although she had no problem having a successful career, there was one big role that she decided to turn down. Hart was reportedly offered a role in I Know What You Did Last Summer but didn’t take it and the role in the 1997 thriller ended up going to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Hart later revealed that she didn’t accept the role because she didn’t want to become “another horror movie victim.”