Melanie Pearson Lucinda Cowden
Melanie Mangel (née Pearson) 1987, 1988, 1989-1991
Lived: 28, 32 Ramsay Street
Born: c. 1965
Parents: Bill and Mrs Pearson
Martial Status: Joe Mangel (1991-1993; divorced)
Family Tree: Pearson/Mangel
Occupation: The Robinson Corporation Secretary
Born and raised in Erinsborough, madcap Melanie Pearson was a scatty, fun loving young woman with an outrageous seal-like laugh, wacky dress sense and a fondness for collecting porcelain pigs. Although prone to putting her foot in it and getting in a muddle about things, Melanie was universally loved and had a heart of gold.
After finishing school, Melanie enrolled in a secretarial course but she found it tough going. After four years, she still hadn't grasped shorthand. Melanie's unique personality endeared her to the equally fun-loving Henry Ramsay and they dated for a time. But when Henry brought Melanie home to meet his mother Madge, sister Charlene and her husband Scott, the entire Ramsay family recoiled in horror when Melanie burst into her animalistic laugh moments after being introduced to them. Madge and Charlene sprung into action to try and find a new man for Melanie, and Charlene introduced Mel to her friends Mike Young and Gino Rossini in the hope that she would fall for one of them. Although Melanie didn't actually hook up with either of them, Henry got the wrong end of the stick when he walked in on Gino handing Melanie his phone number, having invited her to attend a disco. The relationship with Henry then fizzled out, but Melanie remained fond of him and when he embarked on relationships with Sally Wells and Bronwyn Davies, Mel was on hand to throw a spanner in the works.
After finally graduating from secretarial school, Melanie landed a job with a temp agency. And despite her zany personality and general wackiness, Melanie managed to impress hard nosed businessman Paul Robinson when she filled in for his regular secretary Jane Harris at the offices of The Robinson Corporation one day. In fact, Melanie left such an impression on Paul that he took her on full-time when Jane was promoted. Despite their very different personalities and lifestyles, Melanie and Paul became good friends, and underneath all the sparring and volatile exchanges around the office, there was a mutual respect between the two. There was a slight deviation from their professional relationship one night, however, when Melanie comforted a down in the dumps Paul over his broken marriage and they slept together. However, the following morning, they both agreed that it was a momentary lapse and vowed to forget about it. And Melanie was thrilled for Paul when he went on to find love with Christina Alessi, twin sister of his Number Two at Lassiter's Caroline.
Following on from a brief stint sharing a flat with Sally, Melanie made Ramsay Street her home when she moved into No.28 to lodge with Sally's brother, widowed bank manager Des Clarke and his toddler son Jamie. Melanie's connection with Des stretched back quite a bit, as his mother Eileen had lived in a unit next door to Melanie and her family for a number of years. Melanie injected a much-missed sense of fun and games to the Clarke household and quickly brightened up the place with her collection of pigs scattered around the kitchen and living room. But Melanie infuriated Des when she interfered in his engagement to Jane by telling her that her trip to England to visit her sick nan was hurting him. This prompted Jane to phone Des later and call off the wedding, having decided to stay in England permanently. Although Des was angered by Melanie's interference, he came to realise that things would never have worked out with Jane anyway and forgave Melanie for her indiscretion.
To make amends with Des, Melanie took on the task of finding Des a new career as her pet project. He had become disillusioned with life in the bank and sought a change, but Des certainly wasn't expecting his resume to be changed so fundamentally as when Melanie got her hands on it. While her spicing up of Des' CV initially paid off when Des landed a job with a top stock-broking firm, it quickly backfired when Des was invited by his boss to indulge in a spot of canoeing and rock-climbing – two of the hobbies Melanie had added to his resume. The only problem was Des was terrified of heights and water.
Always on the look-out for love, Melanie was an old-fashioned romantic who dreamed of a fairytale wedding and the man of her dreams. She regularly consulted the famed Erinsborough astrologer Madame Zolga on her love life and was forever talking about her to her friends. Melanie thought she had found her soul mate when she started dating hapless Kelvin Stubbs, a waiter at the Lassiter’s Brasserie. But she was shocked when the seemingly mild-mannered Kelvin made a pass at Christina, and was then exposed as a serial love-rat. It looked as though Melanie had finally found Mr. Right when she met and fell in love with Roger Walsh while on a month-long cruise. And Melanie was quick to accept when Roger proposed and they returned to Erinsborough announcing their engagement. Most of Melanie's friends were concerned, however, because Roger was twice her age and the father of two teenage children. But Mel and Roger proved them wrong by staying together. However, the arrival of Roger's bitchy daughter Tania on the scene changed things. From the moment Tania met Melanie, she took a dislike towards her, and Melanie was deeply hurt when she realised Tania couldn't stand her extroverted personality, not to mention the constant comparisons she made between Melanie and her late mother. Tania eventually came to appreciate that underneath the wacky clothes and zany exterior, Melanie was a loving and caring person, and she gave her father her blessing. The engagement was called off by Mel, however, as she knew she'd never fully be accepted by Tania.
When Des sold No.28 to Doug and Pam Willis, Melanie moved into a nearby flat, where she was plagued by neighbours from hell and a pervy landlord. When her friends in Ramsay Street realised how unhappy Mel was in her new home, Joe Mangel came to the rescue and invited Melanie to lodge with him at No.32. Joe had recently lost his wife Kerry in a shooting accident, and Melanie proved to be a valuable asset to the Mangel household as she got on famously with his two children, Toby and Sky. In fact, Melanie was so devoted to them that when Joe nearly lost custody of Sky to her natural father, she offered to marry Joe if it meant him standing a better chance of holding onto Sky. Although Joe was deeply touched by the gesture, he politely turned Melanie down and as it turned out, Sky remained in his custody.
Ever the klutzy figure, Melanie managed to bring a zany slant to Paul and Christina's wedding day when she brought the wrong dress to Chrissie's on the morning of the wedding. Mel rushed home and collected the correct dress, but as she raced across Erinsborough to Chrissie's mum’s house (where the bridal party was holed up), she realised she would never make it in time. With no other alternative, Melanie was forced to don Chrissie's wedding dress herself and pretend she was late for her own wedding in order to procure a taxi ahead of the waiting masses at the taxi rank. Paul was stunned when Melanie then turned up at the church in the bridal gown, and she had to hurriedly rush for the vestry to rectify things with Chrissie. At the reception, which was held on a cruise ship which Paul and Christina were departing on for a honeymoon cruise, Mel had one too many glasses of champagne and fell asleep in the bathroom. After all the guests had left the ship and had been waved off by the newlyweds, Paul and Christina were shocked to return to their cabin and find Melanie there – evidently joining them on their honeymoon, since the ship had just left the port.
Meanwhile, Joe had started to fall in love with Melanie, but she was oblivious to his feelings and started dating dashing hardware businessman Simon Hunter, a client she had met at The Robinson Corporation. Simon literally wined and dined Melanie and it wasn't long before Simon had popped the question. However, Joe remained unable to tell her how he really felt and Melanie, ever the cupid, recognised his longing to find a new love and enrolled him as a contestant in the TV game show Dream Date. Joe reluctantly went along, but Melanie ended up taking part herself when one of the female contestants pulled out at the last minute and Mel was plucked from the green room by a panicked producer to fill her shoes. Joe ended up choosing Melanie as his date and the two were sent off on a romantic weekend together. It was here that Melanie finally admitted that she was in love with Joe too. Once back in Erinsborough, Melanie broke the news to Simon that she was with Joe, and before long, the couple became engaged.
Melanie and Joe opted to marry sooner rather than later, and despite a slight crisis with a reception venue, the Robinsons came to their rescue and offered them the use of their back yard for a marquee. With Toby as best man and Sky as flower girl, Joe and Melanie were pronounced man and wife by Melanie's good friend Reverend Richards. And in typical Melanie style, she burst into tears as she said her vows – and had the entire congregation in stitches as she quipped that she always cried at weddings, so why not her own?
After a few days honeymoon in the country, word reached Joe that his mother had suffered a heart attack and would need to sell No.32 to pay for her medical expenses. Joe and Melanie decided to travel to England to be with her and follow that with an extended tour around Europe. Although Sky was going to be with them, they decided to leave Toby behind to continue with his schooling and he moved in with Dorothy Burke next door at No.30. In a tearful goodbye at the airport, during which Toby gave Melanie the ultimate seal of approval by calling her 'mum', Joe, Melanie and Sky set off for England.
After a few months in Europe, Melanie returned to Australia with Joe and Sky, and set up home in the countryside. And once a new school opened in the district, Toby joined them. However, Melanie's life as Mrs. Joe Mangel wasn't to last, though as her marriage to Joe was to be a tempestuous one. After a few years, they decided to separate and Melanie later moved to London.
• To read our interview with Lucinda Cowden, click here
• In 2005, Melanie made a cameo appearance in Annalise's 20th Anniversary Documentary
• Melanie collected pigs
544-545, 616, 713-720, 833-834, 1062-1549, 4773
544: Melanie's Arrival
1537: Joe and Melanie's Wedding
1548: Joe, Melanie and Sky's Departure: Part One
1549: Joe, Melanie and Sky's Departure: Part Two
Biography by Moe