Melissa was born in 1971 to Jim Philips and Linda Patterson. Melissa left Salem with Linda in 1980, but she ran away from her mother and returned in 1982 when she learned Mary Anderson had been killed and left half of Anderson Manufacturing to Melissa. Once in Salem, Maggie and Mickey Horton got legal custody of Melissa.
Melissa later took a job working at Shenanigans. Later, while stealing some food from Shenanigans, Pete was caught by Melissa. Pete kidnapped her and tried to leave Salem, but due to a snow storm they were stranded out at the old Horton farm. There Pete and Melissa grew close, but when police arrived he was arrested. Melissa and Chris didn't press charges, and Pete was released in Chris' custody. Pete and Melissa began dating each other secretly. However, when Pete accidentally shot Mickey during a gang rumble, Pete split town, but meet up with Melissa, who had been sent to a summer camp. When the two returned to Salem their relationship was discovered.
Melissa's mother Linda returned to Salem the same year. Melissa didn't know it, but Linda was after her stocks in Anderson. Melissa had sold her stocks, and in an act of revenge, Linda drugged Pete and arranged for Melissa to find him and her in bed. Melissa was furious with Pete, and took a job at Barry Reid's flower shop, not knowing it was a front for a drug ring, even though Pete warned her. By the end of the year Pete and Melissa had made up.
In 1985, Melissa told the cops about the drug dealings going on at the flower shop where she worked, but everything backfired when Barry Reid claimed Melissa was the dealer, and was framing him. Melissa went on the run, and hid in the remains of the old Anderson Manufacturing plant, which had been destroyed by fire. While hiding out she learned her mother Linda was posing as Madame DuPrix, and was out to destroy her.
Melissa planned to leave town, but ended up in a halfway house where she became friends with Ivy Selejko. Bo Brady eventually found Melissa and her brought back to Salem. She was cleared, but was still charged with trying to skip town. However, in her absence, Pete had met and fallen for Ivy. When Ivy became pregnant, she and Pete were married even though Melissa and Pete still loved each other, and continued to see each other on the side.
Later Melissa ended up falling for her married parole officer, Ian Griffin. In 1985, Melissa unknowingly acquired some film from Kimberly that many people wanted, including Victor Kiriakis. Melissa's life was in danger, and Pete and Melissa went on the run and ended up in Miami. On February 14th, 1986 Pete and Melissa were finally married in a double ceremony with Mickey and Maggie. While on her honeymoon, Melissa was attacked and almost raped. Later she remembered her attackers face, and turned Ian over to the police.
In 1986, Melissa joined Lars Englund's Dance Company and became he's leading lady on and off stage. Pete hurt himself while trying to save Bo out at the Kiriakis Warehouse, and as a result was paralyzed. Melissa was too guilt ridden to leave Pete, but continued her affair with Lars. In 1987, Melissa hurt her leg but managed to keep it from Lars. However, after the second time she hurt it, the damage was permanent and she couldn't hide it any longer. Lars quickly dumped her and took his company to another town. As a result of her infidelity, she and Pete divorced, and her left Salem.
Later in 1987, after finding Kayla Brady passed out on the pier, Melissa became the number one suspect in her attempted murder. Harper continued to frame Melissa, who eventually fell in love with Jack, who had turned to her for comfort. Jack ran against Melissa's adoptive father Mickey, and proposed to her to better his campaign. When Melissa learned he was using her she dumped him, but not before humiliating him in public. Shortly afterwards, she left town.
Melissa returned to Salem in 1990 when she learned that her cousin Jen was falling for Jack. Melissa pushed Jen into her ex-boyfriend Emilio Ramirez's arms. However, Melissa and Emilio had formed a singing team and, in the process, Melissa fell in love with Emilio. Unfortunately, as quickly as it began, their relationship started going sour. Emilio had a horrible temper which Melissa began to fear. At the Alamain New Year’s Eve party in 1990, a drunken Emilio became violent with Melissa while in a room on the top floor of Lawrence's house. When he lunged at her, she pushed him away in self-defense, but Emilio stumbled backwards, crashed through a window, and fell to his death.
In 1991, Melissa became involved with Brian Scofield, who was investigating Nick Corelli's murder. Brian, and Melissa, Eve and Frankie, and Jack and Jennifer boarded a theme train on which Johnny Corelli had stashed the weapon that was used to kill his brother, Nick. When they found the weapon, Johnny detached the car they were in and it rolled down a mountain pass and derailed into a cold forest.
The couples split up and all tried to find their way out of the valley they found themselves trapped in. Eve eventually split away from Frankie and met up with a young woman named Molly Brinker. Molly drew Eve a map and Eve lead the party to a safe location and took the credit on her own. A helicopter retrieved the stranded Salemites, but Eve was seriously injured when she fell from the helicopter ladder. She lived and was treated like a star in Salem until Molly showed up and pushed Eve off of her heroine pedestal.
However when they returned to Salem, things fell apart for Melissa. When Brian learned that she had killed Emilio and never told him, he felt betrayed and ended their relationship. Looking for a fresh start, Melissa and her younger sister Sarah moved to Nashville where Melissa hoped to revive her singing career.
Melissa would visit Salem several times after her relocation. In 1994, a pregnant Melissa returned for her grandfather Tom’s funeral. Off-screen, Melisa gave birth to a son, Nathan Horton, a short time later. As he explained when he moved to Salem in 2009, Nathan was never close to his father and did not use his last name. Also, when he returned he had been aged to his mid-twenties. To date, neither Melissa nor Nathan has ever revealed his father’s identity.
Many more visits followed Melissa’s 1994 return, including one in 2010 for her father Mickey’s funeral, at which time she was reunited with her son Nathan, who had moved to Salem the year before. At the memorial, Melissa spoke lovingly about her parents and also gave her son some much needed parental advice. Unfortunately, her stay was brief and she and Sarah returned to Nashville shortly after the proceedings ended.
In June, Melissa once again visited Salem for a solemn reason – Alice was dying. Despite the sadness, Melissa was happy to see her mother, son, and the rest of her relatives. On Wednesday, June 23, 2010, Alice passed away. Melissa mourned her loss surrounded by her loved ones.