Fun Facts About ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert then and now
Everett Collection and Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

While Melissa Gilbert is best known for playing Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie as a child and teen, her career has gone on for decades. Even before Little House, she began acting at the age of 5 when she appeared in a commercial for Alpo dog food. Today she celebrates her 60th birthday (May 8, 2024) so let’s celebrate her and learn some fun facts about her life and career!

She was adopted into a Hollywood family

Paul Gilbert, Melissa Gilbert and Barbara Crane

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Gilbert’s parents were both actors. Paul Gilbert and Barbara Crane adopted her when she was just one day old. They later adopted a son named Jonathan, who also appeared on Little House on the Prairie. Her sister is actor Sara Gilbert.

She was the President of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

Melissa Gilbert during SAG and AFTRA Celebrities Who Have The Urge to Merge Get Together In Support Of Consolidating The Two Unions at Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, New York, United States

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Gilbert is not just an actor but has been a director, producer and served as the President of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) for four years starting in 2001.

She ran for Congress

Mar 1, 2016: Melissa Gilbert sits for a portrait at her home in Brighton, Michigan with her husband Timothy Busfield. Gilbert is the Democratic candidate for Michigan's 8th congressional district

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In 2016, Gilbert hoped to gain the Democrat seat in the House of Representatives for Michigan but had to drop out of the race due to health issues. She had injuries to her head and neck from an accident in 2012 which eventually needed surgery.

She wrote an autobiography

Prairie Tale memoir Melissa Gilbert


In 2009, Gilbert gave a glimpse into her life, specifically her time on Little House in a memoir called Prairie Tale. Pick up your own copy on Amazon. She has also written several children’s books.

She appeared in several reality television shows

Dancing With the Stars Melissa Gilbert, 'Episode 1403', (Season 14, aired April 2, 2012), 2004-

Adam Taylor/ABC/Everett Collection

Gilbert has appeared in Dancing with the Stars(she came in fifth place!), The Celebrity Apprentice and Celebrity Ghost Stories.

She is the voice of an iconic comic book character

Gilbert is the voice of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in the 1990s version of Batman: The Animated Series.

She played Ma Ingalls in a stage show of ‘Little House’

After playing Laura Ingalls for years, when she was older she got the chance to play Caroline “Ma” Ingalls in a stage show. However, her doctor discovered that she had been working on the show with a broken back for months and had to leave to get surgery.

Her latest endeavor is called Modern Prairie


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These days, Gilbert lives a simple life in rural New York with her husband Timothy Busfield. She recently launched a business called Modern Prairie where she aims to connect women and sells clothing and lifestyle items. Check out everything on her website.

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