The Life and Career of Melissa McKnight: Her Age, Husband, Children

April 18, 2024
4 mins read

Melissa McKnight

Former actress and model Melissa McKnight – who briefly went by the stage name ‘Missy McKnight’ in the early 2000s – is perhaps best known for her three-year marriage to “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc, which came to an abrupt end in 2006, but resulted in the birth of their daughter, Marina Pearl LeBlanc.

Although Melissa was reportedly left ‘blindsided’ by Matt’s shock divorce filing, the actor’s publicist was quick to state that the split had been amicable, and that they remained devoted parents and friends. It’s important to note that the first rumors of trouble in paradise began brewing in 2004, when Matt met actress Andrea Anders, who played his love interest in “Joey”.

Even so, two decades have passed since then, and both have parties have moved on with different partners. Meanwhile, their daughter Marina is following her own path and appears disinterested in showbiz or public life in general.

Career/Personal Life

Melissa was born on 10th March 1965, in England and reportedly moved to the USA and attained dual citizenship at a young age. Her professional career began sometime in the 1980s, and although the blue-eyed blonde never reached supermodel status, she featured in prominent publications such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle.


Despite the lack of information regarding Melissa’s parents or possible siblings, her personal life has been well-documented. In 1990, the model tied the knot with long-time partner and filmmaker Anthony Robert Esposito. The couple welcomed their first son, Tyler Esposito, just a year after walking down the aisle, then their daughter Jacqueline was born in 1995 or 1996. (There is conflicting information surrounding Melissa’s first husband and children, as in a 2006 article, HOLA magazine listed Jacqueline’s name as Jennifer and claimed that Anthony was a singer.)

It didn’t take long for Melissa to get back into the dating scene after divorcing Anthony. In 1997, she was introduced to Matt by actor Lou Diamond Phillips and his then-wife Kelly. At the time, the actor was a household name thanks to his portrayal of the loveable but dimwitted Joey Tribbiani in “Friends” – and much like his on-screen persona, he had also been linked to a number of women.

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In the initial stages of his TV career at the end of the 1980s, Matt was in a six-month relationship with future Playboy model Teri Copley. The following decade, he embarked on a tumultuous, on-and-off relationship with Playmate Tonya Poole that lasted three years and was photographed kissing an underaged Kate Hudson in a nightclub, when he was 28 years old. Although the actor’s dating exploits were headline news, Melissa was undeterred, and they began seeing each other almost immediately.

After being engaged for five years, Matt and Melissa became husband and wife in an intimate ceremony which took place in Hawaii. The dynamic duo exchanged their vows in the company of 75 guests, including Matt’s “Friends” co-stars, and one source told media outlets: ‘He adores her, and she adores him.’


Matt’s good looks and entertainment industry prestige made him an eligible bachelor in the eyes of many women, but Melissa chose not to capitalize on his Hollywood connections during the course of their relationship and marriage. To date, her only movie role has been in the obscure 2001 short “Triangles and Tribulations”, which received mixed reviews at the time, and is almost impossible to watch nowadays. Instead, the former model settled into her role as a homemaker, supporting her husband’s career while also raising Tyler and Jacqueline.


Everything seemed to be picture-perfect in Matt and Melissa’s marriage, but the birth of their daughter Marina in February 2004 marked a troubling new chapter for the lovebirds. When she was just eight months old, she began suffering seizures – and at 11 months, she was diagnosed with a form of dysplasia that affected her ability to walk and talk.

Although Marina eventually grew out of the condition, her father described that period of his life a ‘dark time’. After “Friends” aired its last episode in May 2004, the actor immediately delved into filming for the spin-off show “Joey”, which premiered in the same year, but was cancelled in 2006 due to disappointing ratings.

According to media outlets, Matt took a much-needed break from acting following the cancellation of “Joey” to focus on caring for his daughter. Lest we forget, the actor was also in the midst of divorcing Melissa, while navigating his new relationship with his “Joey” co-star and on-screen love interest Andrea Anders.


Although the official timeline was never confirmed, many believe that Matt and Andrea became romantically involved prior to his October 2006 divorce from Melissa. In 2005, the actor had also been caught interacting with lapdancer Stephanie Stephens in a strip club – and according to “Friends” extra Sheila Kennedy, she had a one-night-stand with Matt in 1998 before learning that he’d got back with his girlfriend. Despite Melissa maintaining a dignified silence throughout the years, everything points to Matt’s wandering eye and numerous infidelities being the cause of their split.

Matt and Melissa both requested joint custody of Marina in the divorce, and they were able to co-parent peacefully, and raise the youngster in Santa Barbara, California. When Matt got back to acting, he made sure to rearrange his filming schedules so as to spend as much time as possible with his daughter; as for Melissa, she slowly faded out of the public eye, but was believed to have also started a new relationship.

Back to Marina – Matt has spoken fondly of his only daughter in many interviews over the years. In 2014, he proudly discussed Marina’s vocal skills with PEOPLE magazine, saying: ‘She has a beautiful voice… She has an audition for the talent school at her show today. I helped her to prepare some new pop song I don’t know.’

Marina has certainly had an interesting childhood and adolescence, from meeting Prince Harry backstage at a Bruce Springsteen concert to visiting the sets of her father’s shows. Even so, she values her privacy, and is rarely seen out and about these days.

Martha Clifford

As an Author at Net Worth Post, I guide a dedicated team in the art of revealing the stories behind the world's most influential personalities. Fueled by a relentless curiosity and a knack for uncovering hidden stories, I immerse myself in the intricacies of our subjects' lives, weaving together accurate data and compelling narratives. My involvement spans the entire editorial process, from the seed of research to the final flourish of publication, ensuring that every article not only educates but also captivates and motivates our audience.

At Net Worth Post, we are committed to providing thorough investigations into the net worth and life achievements of innovators across diverse sectors such as technology, culture, and social entrepreneurship. My method merges meticulous research with eloquent storytelling, designed to bridge the gap between our readers and the remarkable individuals who redefine our tomorrow. Through spotlighting their journeys to success, the hurdles they've surmounted, and their contributions to society, we aim to give our readers a deep and inspiring insight into the luminaries who are paving the way for progress and ingenuity in the modern era.

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