They say it’s a “small world,” but the world of Hollywood is even smaller. Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert doesn’t just know this, she lives it.
These days, the 56-year-old actress works on occasion. The days of being one of America’s most well-known child actresses is behind her. With two kids, three stepchildren and plenty of family beyond that, Gilbert has the people most important to her in close proximity.
Speaking of family, Gilbert’s relationship with her godparents is an example of how interconnected entertainment can be. Her godparents happen to be Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall, two actors and comedians whose time in Hollywood spans over half a century.
Back in the days of variety shows in the early 1960s, Brill and McCall were beloved by audiences. Perhaps their biggest breakthrough was when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. It was the same episode as The Beatles’ legendary performance that ostensibly solidified “Beatlemania”.
In the time since their fame’s peak, Brill and McCall still do occasional work in film, television and voice acting. They are also still happily married 61 years later. With Brill at 83 and McCall at 88, Gilbert also has the fortune of having them in her life.
Little House on the Prairie Star Melissa Gilbert on Being a ‘Dork’
While Gilbert could say she had early television royalty as her godparents, that didn’t necessarily mean she was Hollywood cool. In fact, the former Little House on the Prairie star said she was essentially the opposite.
That’s not to say it was bad. In fact, Gilbert explained that it was about as ideal as anyone could hope.
“By child-actor standards, mine was probably the best experience that you could have,” Gilbert said. “I had a fairly grounded home life. In fact, I was the opposite of what you would expect a child star to be: I was a total dork.”
However, being grounded and having a somewhat reasonable childhood doesn’t exactly translate to being stylish or cool.
“I was the girl in the one-piece bathing suit with cotton pajamas over it and a hat, eating a bologna sandwich with mayonnaise dripping down my hand, and I was like 15 years old at that point,” Gilbert said in an interview with TODAY.
All in all, it seems like a trade-off that Gilbert is happy with in retrospect. The life of child stardom is not easy by any means, and there are countless examples of kids raised in entertainment that don’t receive a classic childhood.
Gilbert may not have been setting trends as a star of Little House on the Prairie, but she lived a normal childhood. The price of that is genuinely priceless.