It’s a strange thing, watching a child star develop into an adult, following their career as we quite literally follow the growth of their lives.
Now, there are plenty of children who are but a flash in the pan in Hollywood; those who make their debut in a hit film or TV series, only for their star to fade soon after. They most commonly end up working ‘normal’ jobs, even if they’re recognized from time to time for the role they delivered.
Yet there are also those whose star potential is fully realized. You know the ones: the children who plant their flag through an eye-catching first performance, only to go from strength to strength thereafter.
Melissa Gilbert is undeniably in the second category.
In 1974, at the tender age of nine, Melissa starred as Laura Ingalls for the first time in the smash-hit Little House on the Prairie.
Impressive as her landing of the role was, she couldn’t have imagined the level of stardom and fame it would propel her towards. Nor the immense reach and popularity the show would end up having across the world.
Little House on the Prairie, boasting the likes of Michael Landon and Karen Grassle, ran for a total of nine seasons, and took the young Melissa Gilbert to dizzying heights she couldn’t have dreamed of.
Melissa was just a child when she landed her defining role, playing Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Filming the show between the ages of eight and 18, she literally grew up on set, and the experience changed her life, including giving her a father figure in her on-screen dad Michael Landon.
“I loved my job from the get go,” she told Parade. “I certainly enjoyed being on the set of Little House on the Prairie. It was a great place to grow up if you are a child performer, and was fun and amazing.”
To all professionals in the film, television, theatre, entertainment and arts world, join the challenge to post a photo of you in your job. Just a picture, no description. The goal is to flood social media with our profession. Copy the text and post a pic #SaveTheArts pic.twitter.com/IglyIQTSYV
— Melissa Gilbert (@MEGBusfield) July 7, 2020
While she’ll always be remembered by fans as Laura, her adventures in Hollywood didn’t end with Little House. She went on to star in television films like The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker, served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 to 2005, placed fifth as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and even ran for Congress in Michigan’s 8th congressional district in 2016, winning the Democratic primary before withdrawing due to health issues.
It should go without saying that Melissa, having grown up in the entertainment industry, knows a thing or two about the pit-falls associated with fame.
Indeed, the actress, now 58, left the glitz and glam of LA for the Catskills in New York in recent years, wanting to get away from the life she had known for one of peace, tranquility and better reflection.
In recent interviews, Gilbert says that fixing up the old house she and her husband moved into took quite a lot of elbow grease. “It had no heat, and the plumbing was kind of wonky,” she said in an interview with Fox News. “It was like the people had just wrapped up out of the house and it sat there for decades like that.”
“When we walked in the front door — I’ve smelled musty places, [but] I’ve never smelled anything like the smell that came from this house,” she told Next Avenue. “It was overwhelming.”
“But… the more we stood in that musty, stinky, crowded place, the more I started to see past all of that stuff, and to see that this place had the potential for being something incredibly special,” she added.
The Aging Process
Moreover, Melissa recently went on record to suggest that she’s done with fighting against nature and the aging process.
“I grew up in an industry that values the outside considerably more than the inside, and I was caught in that wheel of trying to stay young.”
In her bid to defy aging conventionally, Melissa underwent a series of botox, fillers, and breast implant procedures over the years.
This was hardly far from the usual in Hollywood, a place known for its application of aesthetic filters on virtually everything. As per reports, Melissa’s first brush with cosmetic surgery came after her work on 1981 TV flick Splendor in the Grass.
While on set, the makeup department for the film shaded her nose to make it look slimmer. This left Melissa with the idea that in order for her to fulfill certain roles properly, she would need to have her body altered.
What followed were years of experimenting with various forms of cosmetic surgery, including – as stated above – a breast implant procedure and botox.
Yet Melissa eventually came around to the idea that the person she was turning herself into simply wasn’t her.
She explained: “It was a red carpet for the season 4 premiere of Nip/Tuck, and I was all done up. And it was at the height of all the fillers in the botox, and my hair was very, very colored. And that really knocked me for a loop, because I was looking at myself, thinking, “Who is that person? That is not me.”
In 2015, Melissa underwent surgery to remove her breast implants. She said it was: “One of the smartest things I’ve ever done. I cut off all my hair and quit doing botox and all that stuff. I love all these changes and watching what’s happening and getting to know this new person.”
We’re behind you no matter what path you take, Melissa. We here at Newsner believe that everyone should be able to feel comfortable in their own body, regardless of their shape, size or stature.
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