Melissa Gilbert became a household name after her decade long role of Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC’s Little House on the Prairie. Born on May 8, 1964, in California, she was adopted at birth by comedian Paul Gilbert and his wife, Barbara Crane.
Gilbert started acting from an early age, appearing in numerous commercials and guest starring in few shows like Gunsmoke and Emergency!. Gilbert auditioned for the role of Laura Ingalls and got the part beating over 500 child actors.
Little House on Prairie
She appeared on the show from 1974 to 1984 alongside Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Lindsay & Sidney Greenbush. During the filming of Little House on the Prairie, she appeared in different TV movies and shows including The Diary of Anne Frank.
After the show ended in 1984, she continued appearing in many TV films. In 1992, she landed a lead role in Fox’s Stand by Your Man. From 1994 to 95, she appeared as Kate Delacroy in NBC’s legal drama Sweet Justice. She continued appearing in TV films.
She was elected the 26th president of the Screen Actors Guild in 2001. She was re-elected in 2003. In 2005, she announced that she is not willing to seek a third year term. In 2012, she appeared in the 14th season of Dancing With the Stars and was paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Gilbert left the competition after she fell and suffered a mild concussion.
Gilbert announced her campaign for Michigan's 8th congressional district in the 2016 elections to the United States House of Representatives in 2015, but dropped her name in 2016, citing health issues.
After she had announced her candidacy, her opponent referred to her as a “tax cheat.” She owed $360,000 in back federal taxes and $112,000 in California state taxes.
Gilbert was engaged to Rob Lowe for a brief period. Following her break with Lowe, she got married to Bo Brinkman in 1988 and separated in 1992. She got married to actor Bruce Boxleitner in 1995, and the couple separated in 2011.
In 2013, she got married to actor Timothy Busfield. Gilbert is the mother of 5 children; two of her own and three stepchildren. She currently resides in NewYork.
Health Struggles and Present Condition
Her 2009 autobiography, Prairie Tale: A Memoir revealed that the actor had numerous health problems due to drug uses. In 2015, she removed her breast implants due to health issues.
The 54 years old actress is still actively working. She is preparing to return to the theater.In a recent interview with Parade, she talked about how she is feeling after moving to NewYork and getting back on stage,
“There is much more opportunity and more of an appreciation for a woman my age in New York than Los Angeles. [In LA] there is such pressure on women to stay young. But women get stronger as they age. I feel more centered and valuable now than I did when I was in my 20s.”
As of now, Mellisa’s net worth is estimated to be around $500,000.