Melissa Jarrett Jade Amenta
Melissa Jarrett 1989-1991
Born: c. 1974
Parents: Ben and Rona Jarrett
Family Tree: Jarrett
Quiet and caring, but not afraid to speak her mind, Melissa Jarrett grew up spending a lot of her childhood in and out of hospital due to her epilepsy.
Melissa fell for Erinsborough High classmate Todd Landers but he always looked on her as a friend. But when she began taking piano lessons after school from Hilary Robinson who lived a few doors down from Todd on Ramsay Street, Todd started to fall for Melissa too. They started dating but Melissa’s overprotective parents Ben and Rona objected to the romance, insisting that, at fifteen, Melissa was too young to be in a serious relationship. However, Melissa and Todd continued to see each other behind their back - despite threats from Melissa’s younger brother Sean to expose them. Eventually, Todd’s uncle and aunt Jim and Beverly assured the Jarretts that Todd was a decent young man and they managed to persuade them to give Melissa and Todd their blessing. But then Ben was offered a three-month contract working in America and decided to take the family with him, meaning Melissa was forced to leave Erinsborough - and Todd - behind for a few months.
While Melissa was in America, fellow student Cody Willis was teamed with Todd for a school assignment and pursued him relentlessly the entire time Melissa was away. Todd resisted Cody’s advances initially, but when he finally did succumb to temptation, Melissa returned unexpectedly on his doorstep. Melissa was furious with Todd for cheating on her while she was in the States, but she eventually forgave him after he spent days begging her to take him back. However, Todd was fuming when he discovered that Melissa had had a holiday fling of her own in America and dumped her. They eventually sorted things out and started afresh - and a disgruntled Cody had to settle for Todd’s best mate Josh Anderson. The four became best friends and got into umpteen scrapes around Erinsborough, such as the time Josh rigged the school computer to print out their History essay exactly the same apart from a few sentences. On another occasion, the four began drinking one night but the alcohol affected Melissa’s epilepsy and she had a seizure. Luckily, it wasn’t serious and she quickly recovered. But the episode put a strain on her relationship with Todd, as it had been his idea to drink, and was the culmination of a period where he went a little off the rails.
As the end of term exams loomed, Melissa and Josh began to spend more and more time together studying and began to fall for each other. At the same time, Cody finally got her man when Todd realised he was in love with her too. When Melissa and Todd broke the news to each other, they were both relieved that it was a mutual decision and things had worked out so perfectly for all four of them. Melissa’s relationship with Josh got off to a tricky start, however, when Josh took her to a drive-in movie one night but without a car meaning they had to watch the film from a tree - which they then proceeded to get stuck in.
Melissa enlisted the help of local activist Kerry Bishop when she discovered that Josh was breeding mice to sell to the school for dissection. Kerry and Melissa broke into the school science lab to release the mice, and although they caused mayhem, their point was made. Kerry then took Melissa under her wing as Melissa developed a keen social conscience and interest in animal rights. But tragedy struck when Kerry was shot dead while protesting against off-season duck hunting, and Melissa was stunned by the death, especially since Kerry was the first person close to her to ever die. In honour of her friend, Melissa turned vegetarian and also, unsuccessfully, tried to get Cody to change to veggies too.
When Melissa discovered the tuna Paul Robinson was buying in for the restaurant at Lassiter’s Hotel were caught in drift nets which also trapped dolphins, she and Josh pleaded with Paul to find another supplier. But when Paul refused to back down, Melissa and Josh embarked on a campaign to inform the hotel’s customers about the tuna Paul was buying. Melissa was thrilled when Paul finally agreed not to use the tuna claiming he had had enough of the hassle he was getting from her and Josh. But Josh rained on Melissa’s parade by suggesting Paul might have been lying to her about changing suppliers, and he hatched a plan for them to sneak into the Lassiter’s kitchen that night. After midnight, Melissa and Josh managed to sneak into the kitchens and searched the massive freezers for the tuna. Their suspicions were confirmed when they discovered that Paul was still buying the same tuna, except it was repackaged in nameless boxes. But just as they made the discovery, a kitchen hand who was locking up shut the freezer door. Stuck until morning, the horrific realisation hit Melissa and Josh that they could freeze to death if they weren’t found by then. Luckily, a kitchen hand on night shift found them in the middle of the night and the couple escaped unharmed. However, they still had to face the wrath of Paul, who was furious with them and landed them with a huge bill for the broken thermostat and damaged food in the freezer.
When a new teacher, Mr. Gibbs, started at Erinsborough High, Melissa heard rumours that he had sexually assaulted a student at his previous school. Melissa began to tarnish his reputation at school and even began to think he was after her. But when she finally came face to face with him, Mr. Gibbs explained to Melissa that the rumours had all been lies and she apologised for all the hurt she had caused him.
When her father accepted a full-time job with his firm in America, Melissa had to leave Erinsborough behind once more - and this time for good. In her final weeks at Erinsborough High, Melissa made the ultimate sacrifice for her friends by taking the blame for a mini-explosion in the science lab that Josh, Todd and Cody had actually been responsible for. Principal Dorothy Burke had no option but to suspend Melissa from school during her last days for the prank, despite her hunch that Melissa was taking the rap for her friends. But Cody, Todd and Josh knew they couldn’t let Melissa leave Erinsborough High under a cloud, especially since she had always been such a good student through the years, and they all owned up to Dorothy in the nick of time. Melissa was touched by her friends’ gesture, and after a goodbye party at the Robinson house, during which the gang presented her with a years supply of vegemite to keep her going in the States, Melissa bid Josh, Todd and Cody a tearful farewell.
• To read our interview with Jade Amenta, click here
Biography by Moe