Little House on the Prairie
Former child star Melissa Gilbert may still be best known for her portrayal of Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder in the NBC series "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-1982). In 1985, she became the youngest person to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her participation in the television business.
On stage, Gilbert made a name for herself when she debuted Off-Broadway in the production of A Shayna Maidel (1987). She netted an Outer Critic's Circle award for her bravura performance in the play.
Off screen, Los Angeles native actress Gilbert, whose salary in "Little House on the Prairie" was 75,000 per week, was elected 2001's Screen Actors Guild President. She again became the Guild's 23rd President after being elected to the Guild's Presidency in the year 2002. As for her romantic life, 5' 3½ inch tall Gilbert romanced heartthrob Tom Cruise in her teens before having a long-running relationship with actor Rob Lowe in the 80's. After headlining the media with her turbulent love with Lowe, Gilbert married actor/producer Bo Brinkman in 1988, but they divorced after a few years of marriage. She is now the wife of actor Bruce Boxleitner, whom she married in 1995, and the mother of two sons, Dakota Paul Brinkman (father Bo Brinkman) and Michael Garrett Boxleitner (father Bruce Boxleitner).
Childhood and Family:
In Los Angeles, California, Melissa Ellen Gilbert was born on May 8, 1964. Late actor Ed Gilbert and actress Barbara Crane adopted her when she was one day old. She has two younger siblings, sister Sara Gilbert (actress) and brother Jonathan Gilbert (actor). Her grandfather is Harry Crane, the creator and writer of The Honeymooners and a famous comedy writer.
Growing up in a showbiz family, Melissa Gilbert, whose nickname is Missy, aspired to be a performer since childhood. Led by her celebrity parents, she began the early stages of her career, at age 2, with making an on-air debut in television commercials modeling baby clothes. By the time she was seven, Melissa had appeared in a number of TV commercials for toys, toothpaste and fast food. She became a kid star when she joined the cast of Little House on the Prairie.
When she relocated to Manhattan in the 1980s, Melissa met and fell for Bo Brinkman. After two months of romance, they were married on February 21, 1988, but divorced in 1992. They have a son named Dakota Paul Brinkman (aka Cody Brinkman, born on May 1,1989). She next married actor Bruce Boxleitner, whom she had a crush on when she was a teenager, on January 1, 1995. Her second son, Michael Garrett Boxleitner (named after the late Michael London), was born on October 6, 1995.
"Not a lot of people actually get to grow up and marry the picture in their locker." Melissa Gilbert on her second marriage.
A Shayna Maidel
Being raised in an entertainment family, Melissa Gilbert entered the spotlight when just a toddler. Beginning at age two, she modeled baby clothes in a TV commercial and continued to appear in more than thirty television commercials for such companies as McDonald's, Crest and GAF toys by the time she turned seven. Melissa landed guest spots in television shows like "Gunsmoke" (1972) and "Emergency!" (1972).
Gilbert made her television film debut in 1974 when she was cast as Laura Elizabeth Ingalls in the made-for-TV movie Little House on the Prairie (1974). Her big break came when she reprised the character in NBC's popular series "Little House on the Prairie" (1974). Portraying a series regular from 1974 to 1982, Gilbert rose to fame with the success of the show. In 1985, she became the youngest person to receive a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
During her stint in the show, Gilbert also played Kelly Sullivan in the television movie Christmas Miracle in Caufield, U.S.A. (1977), provided her voice for Clara in the animated film Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) and reprised her role of Laura in the TV film Little House Years (1979).
Gilbert also tried her hand at producing after her personal manager formed Half-Pint Productions in 1978. With the company, she produced the television film The Miracle Worker (1979), in which she also starred as Helen Keller, opposite Patty Duke. The film won an Emmy Award for movie of the week.
In the 1980s, Gilbert went on to take roles in the television movies The Diary of Anne Frank (1980), Splendor in the Grass (1981), Choices of the Heart (1983), Little House: Look Back to Yesterday (1983), Little House: The Last Farewell (1984), Family Secrets (1984) and Little House: Bless All the Dear Children (1984). After having her feature-acting debut as Charlie in Sylvester (1985), she returned to television portraying roles in such TV movies as Penalty Phase (1986), Choices (1986), Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife (1987), Killer Instinct (1988) and Chameleons (1989). In her hectic schedule of working with TV projects, Gilbert was also seen in the wide screen film Ice House (1989, played Kay).
Already establishing herself as a scene-actress, Gilbert tore up the stage by debuting on off-Broadway in the production of A Shayna Maidel in 1987. Delivering a bright stage performance, Melissa was garnered an Outer Critic's Circle Award for Best Debuting Actress. She also landed starring roles in such productions as The Glass Menagerie, The Miracle Worker, Bus Stop, and Love Letters at the Los Angeles' Canon Theater.
Busy receiving offers, Gilbert won the role of Rochelle Dunphy in the comedy series "Stand By Your Man" (1992), costarred with husband Bruce Boxleitner in the NBC film House of Secret (1993), and portrayed series regular Kate Delocroy in television's "Sweet Justice" (1994-1995). Melissa next rejoined her husband to play a title character in Danielle Steel's Zoya (1995, TV), played a starring role in ABC's TV movie Seduction in a Small Town (1997, played Sarah Jenks) and played the role of widow Rebecca in CBS's The Soul Collector (1999,TV).
In 1996, Gilbert expanded her talents to include directing the ABC After School Special entitled Me and My Hormones (1996) and later the TV film Child Stars: Their Story (2000).
Playing the title character of Donielle, a woman with supernatural abilities, in CBS' A Vision of Murder: The Story of Donielle (2000) was Gilbert's opening movie in the new millennium. She then emerging as Jo Ellen Hathaway in CBS' film Sanctuary (2001). 2003 found Melissa starring as Devon Jones-Thomas in Then Came Jones (2003,TV), Taylor Singer in Hollywood Wives: The New Generation (2003,TV) and Cassie Broadbeck in Heart of the Storm (2004). She recently portrayed Natalie Jones in the made-for-TV film Thicker Than Water (2005).
- Theater World: 1988
- Outer Critic's Circle: Best Debuting Actress, A Shayna Maidel, 1987