23-year-old wild child Mellie Stanley was the break out star of TLC’s popular reality series My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, eventually spawning a one-hour “Stanley Sisters” special (as well as the new reality series Gyspy Sisters) with her sister Nellie and cousins Kayla and Laura.
Though reality television is chock full of eyebrow raising shenanigans, few can compare to the jaw-dropping and headline-grabbing antics of Mellie Stanley! She drinks, she strips, she fights, and she ALWAYS says exactly what’s on her mind. Even among her outspoken Gypsy Sisters cast mates Mellie stands apart with her unpredictability and volatility. So what was it that caused her to be the way she is? A huge part is her amazingly unstable life that included watching her mother get arrested when Mellie was just 13, followed by hopping around between relatives and foster care before ending up in two different abusive marriages as a teenager.
As revealed on the show, Mellie’s mother Lottie Mae Stanley (mug shot photo on the right) was a professional con artist who was wanted by police in more than ten states for defrauding banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by posing as other people. Needless to say, Lottie’s lifestyle dictated that she remain on the move, which made it difficult for her to have her very young children with her.
As a result, Mellie spent most of her childhood years being raised by her grandmother. At the age of twelve, Mellie began traveling with her mother and even participating in some of her scams. (You can read more details about the role Mellie was asked to play here.)
Lottie Mae was finally arrested when Mellie was just 13. In addition to Mellie, Lottie Mae also had two younger sons (5 and 8 at the time) with her. From our previous post on Lottie Mae’s criminal past:
Stanley also had four of her children in tow – among them two sons, 5 and 8, and a 13-year-old daughter, who police said sometimes accompanied her mother on bank jobs. Investigators said the girl had rolled wads of money – thousands of dollars – in her pockets when federal and local police descended on their home in a raid last week.
When Lottie Mae Stanley was arrested, Mellie was placed in foster care until she was 15 when her brother William took her in. At 16, Mellie moved back in with her grandmother before spending a month with Nettie.
Just shy of her 17th birthday Mellie married her first husband Danny Cooper (above). In an interview with Today.com back in May, Mellie opened up about her marriage to Danny, saying that the two ran away together just a few months after meeting and that things were perfect early on. But, things went downhill fast.
Mellie and Danny were married about six months when the two had a major argument. By this time Danny had installed locks on the couple’s trailer that prevented entry and exit without a key, and he locked Mellie in before leaving. Mellie was able to escape by kicking out a window, but her freedom was short-lived.
“He was there within two minutes because he was just right at the gas station across the street,” Mellie told Today.com. “I climbed up in the tree because I knew I was dead. I knew if he got his hands on me that that would be the end of me.” But because she had cut her foot badly when kicking out the window, she wasn’t able to stay up in the tree. When she came down, “he started beating the hell out of me, like, pounding my head on the pine tree.”
After suffering even more abuse but returning each time — “My family talked me into going back to him … that was the gypsy tradition; you have to stick it out,” Mellie said — she finally had enough and took off in the middle of the night. “I just disappeared,” she said. “I didn’t let anybody know where I was going. I disappeared for like, two years.”
Mellie would get married again at 19 to another Danny (Danny Stanley), but believe it or not things didn’t get any better — they actually got worse. Mellie told Today.com that she got pregnant and when she revealed the news to her husband, he wanted her to have an abortion. “I said no, I’m not going to do that,” Mellie recalled. “So we had an argument and I woke up to him beating me. And then two weeks later, I had a miscarriage.” At the time Mellie was four months along.
Mellie never pressed charges for the abuse she suffered, saying, “Gypsies don’t believe in that.”
Here’s Mellie talking about her relationships and how they shaped her into a woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind:
“I was with a Rumney,” Mellie says in the clip. “I went through hell. If I didn’t bow down to everything he said, I would get beat up on.”
She then added, “I kept my mouth shut and did not open my mouth. So now, where everything has done been built up, I have the biggest mouth on me. And that’s where I come in to be the outcast, because I’m not going to put up with it — the sh*t being beat out of me. I hate what I’ve been through. I hate everything, and I do not want to talk about it no more.” At this point Mellie gets a bit emotional and covers her face with her hands, eventually removing them to reveal she has been crying.
Now Mellie is pregnant again, and although her relationship with the baby’s father Robbie didn’t work out (it’s still unclear whether Mellie and Robbie actually exchange vows, though it is clear that they did have a wedding ceremony complete with Mellie in a hot pink and leopard print wedding dress!), Mellie seems ready to own up to the responsibility. “I wasn’t ready for no kid. But it grows on you. And I figure I was old enough to lay down and spread my legs, so I’m old enough to spread them and have a kid,” she told Radar Online last week.
Mellie has been in a few relationships since she broke things off with Robbie, but currently appears to be single. Click here to find out more about her pregnancy — including her due date, the sex of the baby, and what name Mellie has picked out!
Gypsy Sisters airs Sunday nights on TLC at 9/8c.