||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2010)|
|Gilbert at the 1991 Emmy Awards|
|President of the Screen Actors Guild|
|Preceded by||William Daniels|
|Succeeded by||Alan Rosenberg|
|Born||Melissa Ellen Gilbert
May 8, 1964
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Bo Brinkman (m. 1988; div. 1992)
|Occupation||Actress, director, producer|
Melissa Ellen Gilbert (born May 8, 1964) is an American actress and television director. Gilbert began her career as a child actress in the late 1960s appearing in numerous commercials and guest starring roles on television. From 1974 to 1984, she starred as Laura Ingalls Wilder on the NBC series Little House on the Prairie. During the run of Little House, Gilbert appeared in several popular television films, including The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker.
As an adult, she continued her career mainly in television films. Gilbert has also continued with guest starring roles on television and has done voice work for animated series such as Batman: The Animated Series. Gilbert served as the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 to 2005. In 2009, her autobiography Prairie Tale: A Memoir, was released. From 2009 to 2010, Gilbert appeared as Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in the touring production of Little House on the Prairie, the Musical. In 2012, she was a contestant on season fourteen of the popular reality dance competition show Dancing with the Stars on ABC.
Early life and family
Gilbert was born in Los Angeles, California to a newly engaged couple, David Darlington and Kathy Wood, and was put up for adoption immediately after birth. She was adopted one day later by actor and comedian Paul Gilbert (born Ed MacMahon, he changed his name to Paul Gilbert to get a Screen Actors Guild card) and his wife, dancer and actress Barbara Crane, the daughter of The Honeymooners creator Harry Crane. The couple later adopted a son, Jonathan, who co-starred on Little House on the Prairie. Gilbert's parents divorced when she was 8 years old. Her mother, Barbara, then married Harold Abeles, and together they had biological daughter Sara Rebecca Abeles (the actress known professionally as Sara Gilbert), born on January 29, 1975. On February 13, 1976, Paul Gilbert suffered a fatal stroke at the age of 57. Barbara and Harold Abeles' marriage later ended in divorce. Gilbert was raised in her adoptive mother's Jewish religion, but did not have any formal religious education or conversion ceremony.
Gilbert had already done dozens of commercials, including one for Alpo dog food with Lorne Greene (Michael Landon's television father on Bonanza) and attended school with Landon's daughter, Leslie Landon. It was Leslie who informed her that she had won the role of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, beating out over 500 child actresses for the part. The pilot was shot in 1973 and was a ratings success. Almost a year later Gilbert began filming the series. Gilbert became extremely close to the Landon family after her adoptive father died. But a rift developed between Michael Landon and Gilbert after the revelation of Landon's affair with Little House's young makeup artist, Cindy Clerico.
Gilbert had no contact with Landon after Little House ended during the 1983–84 season. Seven years later, on May 9, 1991, when she saw a gaunt-looking Landon on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson discussing his pancreatic cancer, she was compelled to finally telephone him. She visited Landon at his Malibu home where he was, by then, bedridden, and they spent the afternoon together. Landon died one week later. When Gilbert gave birth to her son with second husband Bruce Boxleitner on October 6, 1995, they named him Michael, in honor of Landon.
Career after Little House
Gilbert has continued to work regularly, mainly in television. She starred as Jean Donovan in the biopic Choices of the Heart (1983), and as Anna Sheridan in three episodes of Babylon 5 with then husband Bruce Boxleitner in 1996.
For her contribution to the television industry, Gilbert received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6429 Hollywood Blvd in 1985. Her then-fiance, Rob Lowe, was present with her when her star was unveiled during the ceremony.
In 1998, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 2006, Gilbert appeared as Shari Noble, a patient looking to reconstruct her nipples after committing zoophilia with her dog in a season four episode of Nip/Tuck.
In 2008 and through 2009, Gilbert played Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in the musical adaptation of Little House on the Prairie. This world premiere production at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis was directed by Francesca Zambello and also starred Kara Lindsay as Laura. The show ran through October 19 and was on a US National tour for 2009–10. The tour ended in June 2010 at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.
Dancing with the Stars
In March 2012, Gilbert joined the cast of celebrity contestants on season 14 of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. During week four's show, while dancing the Paso Doble, she fell and hit her head on Maksim's leg and suffered a mild concussion and was taken to a hospital. She went home to recuperate, but returned to continue in the competition. In week eight of competition, she was eliminated, finishing in fifth place.
Screen Actors Guild presidency
Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 2001 after a contentious candidacy, in which she ultimately beat her opponent, Rhoda actress Valerie Harper, 21,351 votes to 12,613 votes after a second vote was taken. In 2003, she was re-elected, defeating Kent McCord with 50% of the vote to his 42%. In July 2005, she announced that she would not seek a third term. She was succeeded by Alan Rosenberg, who assumed the guild presidency on September 25.
||This section of a biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
At age 17, she reconnected with then little-known actor Rob Lowe, also 17. They had met briefly when they were about 14. In 1981, Gilbert, in her convertible, saw Lowe stopped next to her at a red light. Gilbert dated Lowe on and off for six years. During this time, both had affairs with other famous people. She also dated Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Scott Baio, and Billy Idol. After Lowe's failed romance with Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, he suddenly proposed to Gilbert. While making wedding plans, Gilbert found out she was pregnant. Upon being informed of the pregnancy, Lowe ended their relationship. Gilbert miscarried days later.
After her break up with Lowe, Gilbert left for New York City to star in the play A Shayna Maidel. Gilbert was set up with actor Bo Brinkman, a cousin of actors Randy Quaid and Dennis Quaid. The couple married on February 22, 1988, only seven weeks after she ended her relationship with Rob Lowe. Gilbert became pregnant months later. On May 1, 1989, she gave birth to son Dakota Paul Brinkman. They divorced in 1992.
Only weeks after Gilbert's divorce filing, Bruce Boxleitner's ex-wife, Kathryn Holcomb, set Boxleitner up with Gilbert. Holcomb by then was married to actor Ian Ogilvy. Gilbert had met Boxleitner as a teenager when they both were on Battle of the Network Stars when Gilbert introduced herself, and she had a pin-up of him in her locker. But Boxleitner ignored her, because she was a teen and he was many years older than she was. After reconnecting, the couple started dating on and off for over a year. They were engaged twice and Boxleitner broke up with her each time. After reuniting for a third time, they finally married on January 1, 1995, in her mother's living room. Gilbert quickly became pregnant, but went into premature labor more than two months before her due date. She gave birth to a son, Michael Garrett Boxleitner, named in honor of Michael Landon, on October 6, 1995. His middle name is in honor of Garrett Peckinpah, her friend Sandy Peckinpah's son, who had died suddenly of meningitis at age 16. Gilbert is also stepmother to Boxleitner's two sons with Holcomb, Sam (born 1980) and Lee (born 1985). On March 1, 2011, Gilbert announced that she and Boxleitner had separated. On August 22, 2011, Gilbert filed for divorce from Boxleitner.
On January 29, 2013, Gilbert's representative confirmed the actress' engagement to fellow actor Timothy Busfield. The couple married on April 24, 2013. Since July 2013, Gilbert and Busfield have resided in Howell, Michigan.
While playing the role of Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in the touring musical Little House on the Prairie, a visit to the doctor revealed that she had been working with a broken back for months. On July 22, 2010, Gilbert underwent surgery to replace a disc as well as fuse a vertebra in her lower spine. The surgery was described as a complete success.
|1967||Reluctant Astronaut, TheThe Reluctant Astronaut||Niece|
|1979||Nutcracker Fantasy||Clara (voice)|
|1986||Drug Free Kids: A Parent's Guide||Video|
|2007||Safe Harbour||Ophelia MacKenzie||Video|
|1968||Dean Martin Comedy Hour, TheThe Dean Martin Comedy Hour||Girl on Santa's Lap||Episode: "1968 Christmas Show"|
|1972||Gunsmoke||Spratt's Child||Episode: "The Judgement"|
|1972||Emergency!||Jenny||Episode: "Dinner Date"|
|1973||Tenafly||Suzie's sister||Episode: "The Cash and Carry Caper"|
|1974–83||Little House on the Prairie||Laura Ingalls||Lead role (206 episodes)|
|1977||Christmas Miracle in Caulfield, U.S.A.||Kelly Sullivan||Movie|
|1978||Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat||Rosemary 'Rocky' Simpson||Episode: "Rocky"|
|1979||Miracle Worker, TheThe Miracle Worker||Helen Keller||Movie|
|1979||Little House Years||Laura Ingalls||Movie|
|1980||Diary of Anne Frank, TheThe Diary of Anne Frank||Anne Frank||Movie|
|1981||Splendor in the Grass||Wilma Dean 'Deanie' Loomis||Movie|
|1983||Choices of the Heart||Jean Donovan||Movie|
|1983||Little House: Look Back to Yesterday||Laura Ingalls Wilder||Movie|
|1984||Little House: Bless the Dear Children||Laura Ingalls Wilder||Movie|
|1984||Little House: The Last Farewell||Laura Ingalls Wilder||Movie|
|1984||Family Secrets||Sara Calloway||Movie|
|1985||Faerie Tale Theatre||Gerda||Episode: "The Snow Queen"|
|1986||Penalty Phase, TheThe Penalty Phase||Leah Furman||Movie|
|1987||Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife||Marian||Movie|
|1988||Killer Instinct||Dr. Lisa DaVito||Movie|
|1990||Without Her Consent||Emily Briggs||Movie|
|1990||Forbidden Nights||Judith Shapiro||TV film|
|1990||Joshua's Heart||Claudia||TV film|
|1990||Donor||Dr. Kristine Lipton||TV film|
|1990||Lookalike, TheThe Lookalike||Gina / Jennifer||TV film|
|1991||Hidden Room, TheThe Hidden Room||Episode: "Spirit Cabinet"|
|1992||Stand by Your Man||Rochelle Dunphy||Main role (8 episodes)|
|1992||With a Vengeance||Jenna King / Valerie Tanner||Movie|
|1992–94||Batman: The Animated Series||Barbara Gordon / Batgirl (voice)||Recurring role (6 episodes)|
|1993||Family of Strangers||Julie||Movie|
|1993||With Hostile Intent||Miranda Berkley||Movie|
|1993||Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story||Shari Karney||Movie|
|1993||House of Secrets||Marion Ravinel||Movie|
|1993||Dying to Remember||Lynn Matthews||Movie|
|1994||Babymaker: The Dr. Cecil Jacobson Story, TheThe Babymaker: The Dr. Cecil Jacobson Story||Mary Bennett||Movie|
|1994||Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story||Melissa Prentice||Movie|
|1994||Cries from the Heart||Karen||Movie|
|1994–95||Sweet Justice||Kate Delacroy||Main role (22 episodes)|
|1996||Babylon 5||Anna Sheridan||Episodes: "War Without End: Part 2", "Shadow Dancing", "Z'ha'dum"|
|1996||Holiday for Love, AA Holiday for Love||Emma Murphy||Movie|
|1997||Seduction in a Small Town||Sarah Jenks||Movie|
|1997||Childhood Sweetheart?||Karen Carlson||Movie|
|1998||Outer Limits, TheThe Outer Limits||Teresa Janovitch||Episode: "Relativity Theory"|
|1998||Murder at 75 Birch||Gwen Todson||Movie|
|1998||Her Own Rules||Meredith Sanders||Movie|
|1998||Touched by an Angel||Michelle Tanner||Episode: "The Peacemaker"|
|1999||Soul Collector, TheThe Soul Collector||Rebecca||Movie|
|1999||Switched at Birth||Sarah Barlow||Movie|
|2000||Vision of Murder: The Story of Donielle, AA Vision of Murder: The Story of Donielle||Donielle||Movie|
|2001||Sanctuary||Jo Ellen Hathaway||Movie|
|2002||Providence||Lorna Berlin||Episode: "Smoke and Mirrors"|
|2002||Presidio Med||Grace Bennett||Episode: "Once Upon a Family"|
|2003||Then Came Jones||Devon Jones-Thomas||Movie|
|2003||Storyline Online||Episode: "My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother"|
|2003||Hollywood Wives: The New Generation||Taylor Singer||Movie|
|2004||Heart of the Storm||Cassie Broadbeck||Movie|
|2005||Thicker Than Water||Natalie Travers||Movie|
|2005||7th Heaven||Marie Wagner||Episode: "Honor Thy Mother"|
|2006||Nip/Tuck||Shari Noble||Episode: "Shari Noble"|
|2007||Sacrifices of the Heart||Kate Weston / Anne Weston||Movie|
|2011||Christmas Pageant, TheThe Christmas Pageant||Vera Parks||Movie|
|2012||Dancing with the Stars||Herself, contestant||Dance competition|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Award||Category||Title of work||Result|
|1980||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special||The Miracle Worker||Nominated|
|1980||Young Artist Award||Best Juvenile Actress in a TV Series or Special||Little House on the Prairie||Nominated|
|1981||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Little House on the Prairie||Nominated|
|1982||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actress in a Television Special||Splendor in the Grass||Nominated|
|1983||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actress in a Drama Series||Little House on the Prairie||Won|
|1984||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actress in a Drama Series||Little House on the Prairie||Won|
|2000||Golden Boot Awards||Golden Boot||
|2006||TV Land Awards||Most Memorable Kiss||Little House on the Prairie||Won|
- (Gilbert 2009, pp. 228)
- (Gilbert 2009, pp. 14–15)
- (Gilbert 2009, p. 114)
- (Gilbert 2009, pp. 5–6)
- E! Entertainment's "Celebrity Profile:Melissa Gilbert," 1999.
- "Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner Split". People. March 1, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- "Little House on the Prairie". Guthrie Theater. 2008. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- Gans, Andrew (September 20, 2009). "Gilbert, Blanchard, Lindsay, Massey, Loprest Explore a Musical Prairie at Paper Mill, Opening Sept. 20". playbill.com. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- Marikar, Sheila (April 11, 2012). "Melissa Gilbert Still ‘In Pain’ After ‘Dancing’ Concussion". Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- Peter Kiefer and Jesse Hiestand (September 24, 2003). "Gilbert re-elected for two more years as SAG president". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Melissa Gilbert files for divorce from Bruce Boxleitner". Los Angeles Times. August 26, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Jordan, Julie; Shira, Dahvi (January 29, 2013). "Melissa Gilbert Engaged to Thirtysomething's Timothy Busfield". People. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- Nudd, Tim; Jordan, Julie (April 25, 2013). "Melissa Gilbert Weds Timothy Busfield". People. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- "I Drank Three Bottles of Wine a Night". momlogic.com. June 22, 2009. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- Watson, Frances (July 14, 2010). "Melissa Gilbert to undergo surgery for broken back, performed in 'Little House' musical". ontheredcarpet.com. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- Gilbert, Melissa (2009). Prairie Tale: A Memoir (1st ed.). Gallery Books. ISBN 1-416-59914-2
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Melissa Gilbert.|
- Official net-site
- Melissa Gilbert at the Internet Movie Database
- Melissa Gilbert at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Prairie star wins union race
- Melissa Gilbert at Adoption.com
- Interview with Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, February 8, 1999
- Melissa Gilbert interview video at the Archive of American Television