Life after ‘Little House on the Prairie’ for child star Melissa Gilbert

Much-loved TV show ‘Little House on the Prairie’ wasn’t just a hit in the U.S. but also around the world, where fans would tune in every week for the latest installment of the Ingalls family and their farm life.

More than 200 episodes were aired between 1974 and 1982 making the cast overnight stars.

But it was one 10-year-old actress who played the second oldest daughter of the family that most of us remember, Laura Ingalls, played by Melissa Gilbert.

The much-loved child star made the most appearances in the drama portraying the young girl who would grow up and write the best-selling stories which inspired the hit show.

Melissa Gilbert in Little House on the Prairie.
Zuma Press

But the show wasn’t Gilbert’s first TV appearance as she had appeared in commercials and guest starring spots before landing the role that would make her a global icon.

During her time on the wholesome family drama she also appeared in television films, including The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker and at just 21 years old she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Gilbert said of her experience playing Laura Ingalls as a “fun and amazing” chapter in her life. 

Wikipedia / Bob Bekian

“It was a great place to grow up if you are a child performer,” she told The Daily Mail. 

The hardworking actress ensured that she continued working after her pivotal role appearing in a number of TV films and playing Caroline “Ma” Ingalls in the touring production of Little House on the Prairie, the Musical.

But the price price of global fame took its toll on Gilbert, who has battled alcoholism and drug abuse, which she revealed in her 2009 autobiography.

At one point, she was drinking two bottles of wine a night, by herself.

Melissa was president of the Screen Actors Guild, appeared on reality dance show “Dancing with the Stars” and wrote a number of books including her autobiography Prairie Tale: A Memoir.

Some of her latest roles include supporting roles in Secret and Lies and The Night Shift as well as appearing in the short film One Smart Fellow in 2015. Melissa Gilbert in a Floral Dress Photo Print (8 x 10 ...

The LA born actress who was given up for adoption straight after she was born and one day later adopted by actor and comedian Paul Gilbert and his wife, dancer and actress Barbara Crane, even flirted with politics.

In 2013, Melissa Gilbert planned on running for Congress in Michigan but had to withdraw due to medical reasons.

Dean Butler Melissa Gilbert Little House on the Prairie Almanzo Wilder Laura Ingalls
United Archives

Since then she has been focusing on her private life with her third husband “Thirtysomething” actor Timothy Busfield who says he’s “the luckiest man on earth” to be married to the “Little House” star.

Wikipedia / Alan Light

The 55-year-old mom of two married Busfield in 2013 and they both live in Michigan enjoying married bliss.

Here they are talking about a new project in 2019.

We think she deserves to take a break and enjoy her new life after such a busy and successful career in Hollywood.

Please share with all the “Little House on the Prairie” fans you know.