This website is made possible by generous donations from users just like you. $18 helps keep JWA online for one day.  Please consider making a gift to JWA today!
Close [x]


You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Melissa Gilbert

After a highly successful decade as the lead on Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert defied the odds for child actors by becoming a Hollywood power-broker as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001–2005. Adopted at birth by comedian Paul Gilbert, Melissa Gilbert got her start in TV commercials at age two. She played Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie from 1974–1984 while starring in dozens of film roles, including 1979’s The Miracle Worker, 1980’s Diary of Anne Frank, and 1983’s Choices of the Heart. In 1985 she became the youngest actress with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After the series ended, she continued to work in both films and television, with guest appearances on Babylon 5, 7th Heaven, and Nip/Tuck, as well as a stint on Dancing with the Stars in 2012. As president of SAG, she fought for reforms, including new contracts for actors working in commercials and those working in television and films. In 2001 she also became vice president of the AFL-CIO. As of 2015 she chairs SAG’s Task Force on Affirmative Action and the AFSTRA/SAG Young Performers Steering Committee. She published Prairie Tale: A Memoir in 2009.

Melissa Gilbert, 1975
Full image
Melissa Gilbert in a 1975 promotional photo for Little House on the Prairie.
Courtesy of NBC Television Network/Wikimedia.
Date of Birth
May 8, 1964
Place of Birth
Los Angeles, California

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Melissa Gilbert." (Viewed on December 16, 2018) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs