10+ Facts About 'Little House On The Prairie' Star Melissa Gilbert Fans Didn't Know

For eight years, Melissa Gilbert played the sweet, braid-wearing Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.

But off-screen, Melissa's Gilbert's life was a far cry from that of a farmer's daughter.

She was a child star who grew up a lot differently than most. For instance, she had three nose jobs before she was 20 and rebelled hard during her teen years!

1. She beat out more than 500 kids to play Laura Ingalls on *Little House on the Prairie*.

She was only nine when she started playing Laura from 1974 to 1982.

Since she was a child star, she doesn't remember too much from that time other than it being a fun time.

“It was like a really great summer camp but I also got to play the ultimate game of dress-up," she told Spotlight.

"And be in those fantastic clothes and button up boots and I don’t remember it ever not being fun.”

2. She once got yelled at for forgetting her lines on *Little House on the Prairie*.

Being a nine-year-old actress with a lot of lines on a show is a lot of work.

This led her co-star and the show's lead, Michael Landon, to yell at her about it.

Once she started crying after being confronted, he had everyone leave them alone.

He showed a much tender side from there as he calmed her down, ran through her lines, and then hugged her when she got them down.

She never missed her lines after that!

3. She loved being a child actress.

“By child-actor standards, mine was probably the best experience that you could have,” she told Today.

“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."

4. She rebelled a lot during her late teenage years.

After being a self-professed "dork" for so long, she told Today that she rebelled as a way to "test the waters."

This led her down a road of drugs, alcohol, and sex.

5. She's adopted.

The actress often says that she doesn't have a family tree since she was adopted a day after birth by actors Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert.

Sadly, the truth of her biological father's passing was always hidden from her.

When she was 45, she learned the truth: her father had taken his own life.

This news hit the actress so hard that she told Oprah that she took antidepressants “for a while” as she couldn’t eat or sleep for “about six months.”

6. She competed on *Dancing With the Stars*.

In 2012, the actress competed on the show's 12th season where she and her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, finished in fifth place.

"This is exactly what I wanted," she told The Hollywood Reporter before competing.

7. She once underwent surgery on her back.

She sustained a bad back injury when she was on tour with Little House on the Prairie musical.

She told People that she would fight through the pain for the sake of production.

"I would balk and fight it and say, ‘I’ve got to do the show,’ ” she recalled. “If it got really bad and I lost feeling in my legs or couldn’t move, I’d go to the ER.”

She underwent her first surgery to fix her back in 2010.

8. She never got close to Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) on the set of *Little House on the Prairie*.


No sisterly love here!

Melissa reported in her autobiography, Prairie Tale, that it was because Melissa, known as Missy on set, was very aloof and cold.

9. Jonathan Gilbert (Willie Oleson) is her adopted brother.

If you remember, he played Laura’s nemesis’ little brother. Like Gilbert, he was adopted by actors Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert.

Sadly, according to Gilbert's autobiography, they are no longer in touch.

They have another famous sibling: Sara Gilbert.

She's the biological child of Barbara Cowan and Harold Abeles.

You may recognize her from her roles on Roseanne, The Conners, and The Big Bang Theory where she starred alongside Johnny Galecki.

10. She went through a rough patch with Michael Landon after he had an off-screen affair.

Since Gilbert had grown close to Landon's family off-screen, she was devastated when she learned that Landon and his wife were splitting up.

And since Gilbert had seen Landon flirt with the makeup artist that he was leaving his wife for, she was incredibly hurt.

She soon discovered other secrets about the actor, like how he was always drinking on set.


"As a kid, I didn't know he sipped vodka from his coffee mug, but I'm sure he's one reason why, as a young adult, I almost always picked men who smelled like alcohol," she shared with Today.

11. She had three nose jobs before she was 20.

In an essay for Today, the actress shared how common plastic surgery was while growing up in a Hollywood family.

"In my family growing up, it was just a given that everybody got a nose job, and there was not even a discussion," she wrote.

12. She fell hard when she dated Rob Lowe.

The pair started dating when she was 17.

“I fell instantly, hopelessly and stupidly in love,” she wrote in her memoir. “We went from first date to instant couple. I felt like I was starving for Rob.”

They were even engaged at one point, despite the fact that they were both unfaithful to each other.

When Melissa got pregnant, they broke up since Rob wasn't ready to be a father.

As if that wasn't bad enough, she soon tragically suffered a miscarriage.