Melissa Gilbert grew up before television viewers’ eyes on “Little House on the Prairie.” She recalled how that shaped her life.
“It’s my life, it’s not a show,” Gilbert said in an interview. “That’s my childhood, right there, for everyone to see.
“Every day, whatever adventure Laura was having, I was absolutely having it, too,” Gilbert said. “It was beyond exciting. I don’t remember doing any schoolwork although I did. I just remember having this tremendous adventure with these incredibly talented people and I was a kid but I was one of them. Which was just awesome.”
The actress portrayed Laura Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie” for its entire nine-season run on NBC. Gilbert reprised the role in three movies that were produced after the show was finished.
Years later, she also would play Caroline Ingalls in a musical based on “Little House on the Prairie.”
‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Deals With Career Ups, Downs
She mentions being surrounded by talented people on the show. Those would, obviously, include Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls, Karen Grassle as the original Caroline, Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary, Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson, and Katherine MacGregor as Mrs. Oleson. Other cast members over the seasons included Victor French, Dabbs Greer, Richard Bull, and Dean Butler.
Her life and career beyond the NBC series have been full of ups and downs. Gilbert opened up in her autobiography, “Prairie Home: A Memoir,” about battling alcoholism and drug addiction. She also served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild between 2001-05.
Gilbert is currently married to her third husband, actor Timothy Busfield. She has two children and three stepchildren, too.
Arngrim Feels Lot of Compassion Toward One Of Nellie’s Biggest Foes
Speaking of Arngrim, she has a lot of sympathy for Gilbert. The actress really felt a lot of compassion toward her costar having to live up to her signature role’s lifestyle.
“I mean its Laura, Laura, Laura and its ‘Oh, she’s perfect,'” Arngrim said in a 2016 interview for Pop Goes The Culture TV. “If the girl has, like, PMS one day it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, how can you be so cruel. You’re Laura Ingalls.’ The woman cannot get a headache. It’s like she has to be perfect all the time. It’s horrible.”
But Gilbert and Arngrim, in their “Little House on the Prairie” characters, were rivals. If you recall, Nellie wasn’t always full of sugar plums and sweetness. She liked to cause trouble and one of her favorite people to mess with was Laura. Not that Nellie didn’t spread around the hate because she did.
Laura and Nellie would butt heads over men, school, family, you name it. In real life, Arngrim has a deep sense of care for her costar.