Meredith Salenger Opens Up Exclusively About Her Engagement To Patton Oswalt, How They Fell In Love & Her Relationship With His 8-Year-Old Daughter

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We Interviewed Meredith Salenger To Learn ALL The Details Of How She Met & Fell MADLY In Love With Fiance Patton Oswalt
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"To see him happy again makes her immensely happy."

When I spoke with Meredith Salenger, I intended to focus on all of her awe-inspiring accomplishments: She established a successful Hollywood career before she even reached adulthood, graduated cum laude from Harvard University, received a certificate in mediation from the Pepperdine University School of Law, and helped more than a hundred families through mediation cases all the while lending her time and talent to important charitable causes near and dear to her heart.

But none of those things were on her mind that day. Only one thing was: love.

When Meredith and I first jumped on the phone, I was struck by her warmth and familiarity. She was easy to talk to, open about her life and genuinely friendly — giving off a comfortable vibe seldom experienced outside of close friends and family. Meredith graciously welcomed me into her world over the course of our intimate conversation.

And if there's one thing that's easy to take away from even a small amount of time with her, it's that there's no denying the fact that Meredith Salenger is very much a woman in love.

Her summer engagement to Patton Oswalt came as a surprise to many, although not to those in the couple's inner circle.

In fact, those who know the couple well believe Meredith and Patton are *literally* a match made in heaven.

Salenger first stole our hearts on the big screen when she appeared as one of the singing and dancing orphans in 1982's Annie.

Just a few years later, she hit the big time at the tender age of 15 as the lead in the classic Disney film The Journey of Natty Gannwith John Cusack and Ray Wise.


Oswalt is a stand-up comedian, actor, voice actor and writer who is best known for his work on the sitcom The King of Queens, as the voice of Remy the rat in the film Ratatouille, and for playing multiple identical brothers, known the Koenigs, on Marvel's TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Patton tragically lost his wife, writer Michelle McNamara, in April of 2016, when she passed away in her sleep unexpectedly.

It was later discovered that she suffered from an undiagnosed heart condition, which was unknowingly aggravated by medication she had been prescribed.

During Michelle's 46 years, she loved playing matchmaker and received credit for bringing several happy marriages to fruition.

So naturally, many of her friends suggest that she herself may be orchestrating things behind the scenes for her widower and their 8-year-old daughter, Alice.

One of those orchestrations came into play in the form of Michelle, Patton and Meredith's mutual friend, actress Martha Plimpton.

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According to Salenger, Plimpton sent out a Facebook invite for a dinner party that included both herself and Oswalt on the guest list. He didn't show up, but somehow the two started communicating with each other through the invite itself, and soon they were both eagerly looking forward to nightly chats via Facebook Messenger.

Phone calls were off the table since adorable little Alice spent most of those evenings curled up next to Patton, seeking his comfort after the loss of her mom.

It wasn't until three months later that Meredith and Patton decided to meet in person. Within that time, Meredith had already fallen in love with her future husband's mind, but she was nervous about whether or not they would have any chemistry.

Her nerves were immediately put to rest the moment Patton said "Hello" and she was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief — she knew at that moment that she had met her person.

For the first time in her life, she'd found a man she could envision sharing forever with.

I don't wanna brag... but check out the size of The Rock on my finger! Hahahah (photoshop via @edwardderuiter)

A post shared by Meredith Salenger (@meredithsalenger) on Jul 6, 2017 at 8:29am PDT

Ironically, it turns out that Patton's late wife and his new love had several good friends in common and even attended some of the same events (though Salenger admits that she doesn't remember the two of them ever meeting).

"When I found out we had friends in common, I began asking them about Michelle. I was told that she was loving and smart and brilliant and creative and funny and all of these great things. It made me think so much more highly of Patton. Knowing that he likes smart, good girls was so sexy."

Meredith was brought to tears as we talked about Michelle's beautiful family and how they have embraced her with open arms.

She explained how they selflessly focused on Patton's happiness, knowing that if he were to stay immersed in grief, it would only harm his daughter.

"I went out to Chicago for a week to spend time with them. I told Michelle's sisters and her brother how sorry I was that they lost her. It was heartbreakingly sad. She was the baby of the family. It is hard to talk about. They are all so lovely and they are so lovely to me. Patton has a very small family but Michelle's family is huge and they are just the most loving group of people."

The family was especially happy for Alice, who now has another incredible woman in her life.

After the loss of her mother, Salenger shared that Alice seemed to bounce back with the awe-inspiring strength that can only belong to a child— but Patton did not.

It seemed he had resigned himself to the prospect of a joyless existence endured only for his daughter.

"That's a very scary feeling for a little girl," Meredith explained."If your parent is not okay, do you suddenly have to be the one to take care of them? To lose a parent would be such a horrible thing but then to also see the living parent not okay... They are the ones who are supposed to guide you in the world. If you are seeing your father sad, you must wonder how you are going to get through it. So, to see him happy again makes her immensely happy."

Though Meredith has never been married and has no kids of her own, her love of children radiates from her voice when she speaks of them.

However, "Auntie Mer Extraordinaire" — as her nieces affectionately refer to her — did not need marriage or biological children to fulfill her.

Flashback Friday. @ameliaromick @averyromickk #auntiemereextraordinaire

A post shared by Meredith Salenger (@meredithsalenger) on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:24pm PDT

"I have my own career and so many great, supportive friends. I have incredible nieces and I love my friends' children. I was really fulfilled with the relationships in my life. I knew it would take a lot for me to want to marry someone. I was very happy with being the auntie in everyone else's family. Then, Patton and Alice came along and I just fell in love."

My heaven #auntiemereextraordinaire

A post shared by Meredith Salenger (@meredithsalenger) on Sep 16, 2016 at 9:46am PDT

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It is easy to understand how Meredith's career kept her fulfilled until that time.

When she became established as a working actress via Natty Gann, the film not only launched her success, it also served as a platform for her first kiss with none other than her co-star John Cusack.

"I actually vomited that morning because I was so nervous."

That would only be the beginning of her onscreen kisses, of course, as she went on to star in films with some of the biggest teen heartthrobs of the 80s and 90s, including River Phoenix, Corey Haim, and Charlie Sheen

But Meredith was far too driven and intelligent to settle there.

When she left Hollywood in her rear-view mirror, she set sail for Harvard University and graduated cum laude with a degree in psychology before later receiving certifications from the internationally renowned Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and subsequently being engaged as a family law mediator on the esteemed panel of neutrals at the Agency for Dispute Resolution in Beverly Hills.

Most recently, Salenger has been busy voicing several characters on the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network. She plays the parts of Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee, Ione Marcy, Che Amanwe Papanoida, and Pluma Sodi along with various other live-action and voice-over roles.

Whether helping to heal families personally and professionally or championing causes like A is For, "a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive rights and ending the stigma against abortion care", one thing is for sure — Meredith Salenger is a woman who has created her own path paved with passion, kindness, and an inner strength that gravitates toward the greater good.

Seven Secrets with Meredith Salenger

1. What was your first concert?

"Elton John when I was a little girl. I remember smelling pot and thinking the smell of it was so horrible."

2. What is a cause you care deeply about and why?

"Art of Elysium, which brings art to children in hospitals. Also, A is For, which basically supports a woman's right to make decisions about her own body. It's a great organization that my friend Martha Plimpton started."

3. What is a question women should be asked on the red carpet, instead of "Who are you wearing?"

"First of all, I fucking hate the question 'Who are you wearing?' I HATE that question. It should be 'Who designed your dress?' Not, 'Who are you wearing?' You are not 'wearing' anybody. It would be nice if there was a question that could draw attention to a cause the person cares about. To use that platform in a positive way."

4. If you could be a fly on the wall at any moment in history, what moment would you choose and why?

"The night of Barack Obama's first inauguration. Just to see him with Michelle and the girls, radiating joy and accomplishment. What a wonderful feeling that would have been. It was such a beautiful night."

5. If you were the President of the United States of America, what is the first thing you would do on day one?

"There are so many to do. It would be overwhelming. Equal pay comes to mind. Get rid of private prisons. Fix our infrastructure. Most importantly, fix our education system. Every child receives equal education, regardless of income or status. This includes after school programs to keep them healthy and safe. Once a child is empowered and educated, the rest will fall into place."

6. See yourself as a 5-year-old. What is the first thing you would want to say to her?

"Eat healthy and exercise." (Laughs)

7. Which song do you feel could be the soundtrack of your life?

"Right now I am in the midst of being madly in love so all I am listening to is Jerry Rafferty's 'Right Down the Line.' It means so much to me."

That said, she also gave nods to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" and The Muppets' "Moving Right Along."

In fact, just this past weekend Meredith and Patton brought their own little Muppet, Alice, along to hear Electric Mayhem play at the Hollywood Bowl.

I'm taking this Muppet to the Hollywood Bowl tonight to see the Muppets Anyone else going?

A post shared by Meredith Salenger (@meredithsalenger) on Sep 8, 2017 at 6:39pm PDT

Not only is that an adorable outing in and of itself, but could it be that there is now a Muppet-themed wedding in the works?

Both Salenger and Oswalt quickly took to Twitter in a valiant team effort to make that happen!

Let's all join forces and help them make it happen! I have no idea how, but we can do it!

And come on, how could anyone not love this woman (and her family)?

This interview is part of YourTango's 'Empowering Women Series' highlighting female icons making a difference in the lives of other women through their talents, voices and strength of character. 

Melody Alderman is a writer, photographer, and single mom. She has an irrational fear of sharks and once brought home a little leprechaun from Ireland. Her work has been published globally.

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