Melissa Michaelsen

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Melissa Michaelsen (born March 26, 1968) was an American child actress probably best known for her role as the lead in Orphan Train and the title character in the James Komack television show Me and Maxx.[1]


Michaelsen's father, Alwin Michaelsen, is a financial consultant who graduated from Princeton in 1954,[2][3] and her mother, Gail, was once Alwin's secretary. Gail is the niece of Stork Club owner Sherman Billingsley. Gail's cousin, Glenn Billingsley, was briefly married to actress Barbara Billingsley who continued to use his last name for her stage name.[4]

Gail was the one who initially took the children around to auditions. Michaelsen's four siblings all acted as children, most notably Peter Billingsley[5][6] and, to a lesser extent, Neil, who began playing Danny Walton on the daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow in 1975.[7]


She appeared in many television commercials and guest starring in quite a number of television shows including Code Red,[8] Here's Boomer, The Young Riders,[9] and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.[10]

Melissa starred in several made-for-TV movies such as Orphan Train,[11] Broken Promise,[12] and the Goldie and the Boxer films.[13][14]

Michaelsen's played the title role, Maxx Davis, on the sitcom Me and Maxx in 1980. She was picked for the role when a commercial starring Joe Santos aired during one of Melissa's early projects. NBC president Fred Silverman saw the commercial while watching Melissa's TV-movie and reportedly said "I want that guy with that girl."[15] This was Melissa's second attempt at a network series. In an interview about Goldie and the Boxer, her co-star and producer, O. J. Simpson, mentioned that he first saw Michaelsen in an unaired ABC pilot a few days before the film was to begin shooting.[16]

Michaelsen received favorable reviews from both critics and her costars. The New York Times singled her out in their review of Memories Never Die in which she co-starred opposite Lindsay Wagner: "The entire supporting cast is uncommonly good, but special notice might be taken of young Miss Michaelsen. Her pouting, sulking, resentful Kathy is in startling contrast to the sunny Shirley Temple type she has played in such television movies as Goldie and the Boxer. Like Miss Wagner, she, too, is proceeding nicely with her career."[17] Television writer Jerry Buck quoted Melissa's co-star Joe Santos as saying that "She's a terrific actress and a wonderful human being", as he went on to praise her work ethic.[15]

Michaelsen made two more attempts at series television. In 1981, she filmed a pilot for CBS. The show was an attempt to bring the film Little Darlings to television.[18] It never aired. In 1984, Melissa made another pilot with a role as Stella Stevens' youngest daughter in the western No Man's Land. The two other sisters were played by Terri Garber and Donna Dixon. The show was not picked up, but the pilot was broadcast as a two hour TV-movie.[19] Aside from acting, she has done public speaking during her youth. For example, in 1983 she was one of the keynote speakers at a conference on Indian unity.[20]

Later life[edit]

Following her acting career, Michaelsen spent some time as a representative for New York's Morgans Hotel Group.[21]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Me and Maxx TV Show - Me and Maxx Television Show,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Class of 1954-2003-2004 Dues Honor Roll,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Princeton University Senior Theses Full Record,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Barbara Billingsley profile,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  5. ^ Rothenberg, Fred (December 15, 1982), 'Memories Never Die' Airs Tonight, Gettysburg Times 
  6. ^ Thompson, Ruth (August 28, 1982), Peter's Just One Fifth Of Active Acting Family, Casa Grande Dispatch (Casa Grande, AZ) 
  7. ^ Scott, Vernon (May 5, 1981), Child Star's Luck Better Than In Film, Daily Herald (Chicago) 
  8. ^ Code Red: Wildfire,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  9. ^ The Young Riders (1990),; accessed May 10, 2014.
  10. ^ Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Episode Guide,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Scott, A.O. (February 7, 2005). "We're Sorry". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  12. ^ Broken Promise (1981; TV),; accessed May 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Goldie and the Boxer (1979; TV),; accessed May 10, 2014.
  14. ^ Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood (1981; TV),; accessed May 10, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Buck, Jerry (March 30, 1980), Santos Bucks Cop Role To Play Father To A Blonde Charmer, Daily Herald (Chicago) 
  16. ^ Vadeboncoeur, Joan E. (December 30, 1979), O.J. Forms Film Company, Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) 
  17. ^ O'Connor, John J. (December 15, 1982), TV: 'Memories Never Die', With Lindsay Wagner, New York Times 
  18. ^ Staff (March 25, 1981), SLURP!, Indiana Gazette (Indiana, PA) 
  19. ^ No Man's Land,; accessed May 10, 2014.
  20. ^ Conference Held In Sacaton, Casa Grande Dispatch (Casa Grande, AZ), December 20, 1983 
  21. ^ Bloom, Jennifer (December 4, 1994), Neighborhood Report: Upper West Side; After 6 Years, Landmark Eyesore Is Still an Eyesore, New York Times