‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Doesn’t Attribute Her Adversities to Childhood Acting

by Clayton Edwards

It’s no secret that child stars tend to have rough lives after they grow up and leave the limelight. Hollywood is full of examples of this. Some pull out of it and live full, healthy lives. Some even return to acting. However, Melissa Gilbert, star of Little House on the Prairie had some hard times but doesn’t attribute them to her acting career. In fact, she said it was the opposite.

Melissa Gilbert has done countless interviews about Little House on the Prairie. By all accounts, she remembers it fondly. She once said that she feels more like she grew up in the 1870s than in the 1970s. Most of her childhood memories are from the set of Little House.

On top of that, she found a great friend and father figure in the form of co-star and on-screen dad Michael Landon. So, it is no surprise that she says that her early acting career did not have an adverse effect on her life. She spoke about this and more with Parade Magazine back in 2017

Melissa Gilbert on How Little House on the Prairie Helped Her As a Child

During the Parade interview, Melissa Gilbert opened up about her time on Little House on the Prairie and beyond. At one point, the interviewer brought up the fact that she wrote in her autobiography about going through hard times. They went on to ask if she thought that her early acting career had anything to do with those hard times.

Melissa Gilbert said that the issues she had didn’t stem from anything that happened on Little House on the Prairie. The fact that she was acting didn’t figure into them at all. In fact, all of her issues came from her home life. According to Gilbert, her family was dysfunctional. Her adoptive father killed himself when she was eleven.

However, she didn’t find out about his true cause of death for decades to come. Losing a parent at such a young age, no matter the cause, will bring some hard times to a household. She didn’t go into any details about her family’s dysfunction in the interview, though.

She did say that Little House on the Prairie helped her when she was a child. It gave her an escape from her chaotic home life. For one, she had somewhere else to be almost every day. At the same time, the character she played allowed her to mentally escape to a simpler time. At the same time, she had close friends like Michael Landon and Alison Arngrim to confide in while at work.

Melissa Gilbert added that Little House on the Prairie also gave her a place to vent her emotions freely. “Let’s face it,” she told Parade, “I was crying in every other scene.” This, she said, was a great emotional release.

So, while many child stars run into trouble later in life due to their early fame, Melissa Gilbert was able to use her acting to help her through her tumultuous childhood.