Melissa Gilbert Opens Up About Her Little House Co-Star and Brother

It might seem strange that siblings that grew up together, playing, eating, and laughing together should grow apart when they grow older. It happened to Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Melissa reveals that she has not spoken to her brother, who was also her co-star on the show, for years. In this post, Melissa speaks from her heart about the reasons behind such a long silence between the two. Incidentally, Laura Ingalls and Willie Oleson of Little House on the Prairie were real-life siblings. Anyway, on with Melissa’s story.

Not Being Blood Relatives Could Well Be a Prime Reason

Melissa and Jonathan Gilbert are siblings but not blood relatives. Paul Gilbert, an actor, and Barbara Crane, his partner, adopted the children. But that is no reason for distancing. Time spent working on the show should have brought them closer.

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Maybe sibling rivalry had a role to play, or maybe the two adopted children could not find common ground or shared interests as they grew up. Maybe how they were treated by their parents could have played a role.

Melissa’s Book, ‘Prairie Tale’, is Quite Revealing

Melissa published a book, “Prairie Tale”, in 2009. The book is about her experiences as a child actor, and she goes into great detail about her adoption, how she felt for her family, and her life in general. It is quite fascinating.

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One can imagine all that Melissa has been through and what life must have been like to have prompted her to pour her heart into that book. There is more to know!

It All Started Her When Her Mom and Dad Brought Jonathan Home

Once adopted, Melissa was the center of attention and the love of her parents. It was an idyllic life, soon to be disrupted when Jonathan entered her world.

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Melissa was 4 years old when her parents adopted Jonathan to be her little brother. She admits that she was quite annoyed with the tiny rival for her parents’ affection and could not understand why they had to bring him into their cozy lives.

A Disruption Leads to Intense Jealousy and Sibling Rivalry

To put it mildly, the entry of Jonathan into Melissa’s life was a tectonic shift. Her parents were now mostly focused on the younger child and Melissa had to step aside. You can imagine what this did to her mind.

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Melissa is frank in stating that at the outset, she thought of Jonathan as an interloper, an intruder, and someone who had no right to join her family. She admits that she was jealous of Jonathan and wished he would go away.

TV Show Adds Friction to the Relationship

As matters stood, an intense sibling rivalry was building between the two, and you can imagine the daily tiffs. This happened even as Melissa was the star of Little House on the Prairie, a show that garnered many accolades.

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Melissa tasted stardom at a quite young age and was the youngest actress to have been nominated for the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You can imagine how her ego took a hit when Jonathan grabbed a major slice of her parents’ love.

Melissa Makes Friends with Other Kids – Enter Alison

Jonathan had a minor role on Little House on the Prairie and Melissa was the big star. The chasm between brother and sister widened as time went by and Melissa made friends while filming the show.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

One girl to join her friends list was Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, the girl who bullied Laura on the show. Melissa was quite happy to have a friend with whom she could talk, have fun, celebrate birthdays, and have sleepovers.

Another Entry into the Family – Sara Arrives and Worms Her Way into Melissa’s Heart

Jonathan was an intruder into Melissa’s little world and she never quite got over it. However, she soon had a new sibling, Sara, with whom Melissa was far closer and more comfortable.

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Melissa adored Sara as her baby doll, and the two developed a close kinship. In Melissa’s words, Sara was her mother’s miracle, and hers, too. It felt great to have an adorable little sister.

Sara Goes on to Become a Star in Her Own Right

It is only natural that children of star parents should look to become stars. Melissa and Jonathan followed that route with success, and Sara wasn’t far behind.

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Sara matured into an attractive personality, starring on several TV shows. Some notable ones are Roseanne, The Conners, and The Talk, which she left in 2019. Melissa still adored her little sister and has stated unequivocally that she was quite proud of her.

Melissa’s Father Paul Passes Away, and the Family is Disrupted

If sibling rivalry were the tremors, devastating earthquakes that disrupted the family loomed on the horizon. Perhaps these events might have further deepened the rift between brother and sister.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

The year 1976 was a cataclysmic one for Melissa. Her parents separated. As if that were not enough, her adoptive father, Paul, passed away in that same year. Melissa was utterly devastated.

Melissa is Racked with Grief at Her Father’s Passing

Children tend to blame their parents. No doubt, Melissa nurtured some resentment toward her father for bringing Jonathan into the picture, but all that vanished when she learned Paul was dead.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

Melissa remembers that she broke down crying and wailing when she learned her father was dead. Her brother, too, was in tears.

The Truth about How Paul Died

Out of kindness, people told her that their father had died in his sleep from a stroke, but the truth was something else, as she would later learn.

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Melissa’s father had committed suicide. Only a few people knew this, and Melissa didn’t learn the truth for a long time. People speculated about why Paul committed suicide.

Melissa Explains the Reason Why Paul Took His Own Life

During a talk show appearance with Oprah Winfrey in 2014, Melissa revealed the reason her father, Paul, took his own life. However, learning the truth was small consolation for the immense loss she felt.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

Her father, it turned out, was in a lot of pain, and he was suffering. Paul had fought in World War II and was undergoing treatment at a local VA hospital. However, the excruciating pain eventually became too much to bear, and he shot himself.

A Feeling of Helplessness at Not Having Been Able to Do Something

During the same interview, Melissa also said that the truth had a big impact on her, and she wondered if she would have been able to help her father had she known his intention.

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Even during the Oprah interview, Melissa was overcome with anguish at the memory of her father. However, she said that unbearable pain is a mitigating factor, that she could understand why her father took his life, and that she honored his decision.

The One Time Melissa Publicly Shares Her Painful Experience

Some people are content to let grief stay buried within, and it was no different with Melissa, who experienced deep pain at the passing of her father.

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Melissa admitted that it was the first time that she had shared her pain in public. Recalling that period, she said she had needed anti-depressants for six months after her father passed. She could not eat. She could not sleep. She was engulfed in grief and felt the loss of her father for a long time.

Melissa Meets Her Biological Parents But Under Unfortunate Circumstances

In her book, “Prairie Tale”, Melissa recounts how she met her biological father for the first time. However, it was under unfortunate circumstances.

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It was sad that Melissa could not meet her biological mother, Kathy Wood, who had passed away in 1980. Melissa did not even know her name until quite late in life. However, she was able to meet her biological father, David Darlington, for the first time.

Dad and Daughter Finally Meet After a Long Time

Melissa met David for dinner at his house. She remembered the conversation as revealing and also full of pain and sadness.

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David’s other daughter, Bonnie, revealed more of the family history. Kathy died in 1980 due to injuries she sustained while she and David were riding a motorcycle soon after Melissa’s birth. The family history included alcoholism and cancer.

A Search Comes to an End but It Is Not a Joyful Reunion

For Melissa, the meeting belied her expectations. She hoped it would be a joyful reunion mixed with tears of happiness, an end to her search for her original parents.

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The dinner chat left a bit to be desired. Melissa did not learn whether her parents missed her after giving her up for adoption. There was no talk about her origins or birth.

Reality a Tough Pill to Swallow

Melissa said in her book that she finally met her biological father after 28 years, but added the meeting was not at all what she had dreamed about. The reality, it turned out, was a tough pill to swallow.

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In Melissa’s words, the bubble had burst, with reality belying expectation. Her father insisted she was born in 1963, not 1964 as indicated on her birth certificate, making her a year older.

Jonathan Missing at Key Moments in Her Life

To the outside world, Melissa led the charmed life of a child star and had everything, but beneath the surface was a different matter altogether.

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Melissa’s youth was full of tragedies, secrets, and issues. Sadly, she had little support, least of all from her brother Jonathan, who was missing from many key moments of her life.

Jonathan in Limbo

According to Melissa, Jonathan might have had his own problems and decided to cut himself off from the family. She learned to live with it.

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Jonathan left home when he was 18 and rarely showed up afterward, surfacing for a couple of days before vanishing again. Melissa said she saw him only three times in two decades.

Jonathan a Stockbroker

Melissa did not go into great detail about her brother, but how could she when he had simply dropped off the horizon? Maybe Jonathan would decide to reveal where he was and what he had done during all those years.

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It seemed Jonathan had left acting for good to pursue an MBA in Finance. He then became a stockbroker and led a successful life. He, like Melissa, must have put the past behind him for good.

Alison Arngrim Says Jonathan Never Wanted to Be an Actor

A little bit more came out and this time from Alison, Melissa’s friend who played the role of Nellie on Little House. This little tidbit came out when she was on the podcast “From the Desk” in 2018.

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Alison revealed that Jonathan did not put his heart into acting and the show. In Alison’s words, he was the “Where’s Waldo?” He simply disappeared from the spotlight, and it is good he is doing his own thing.

Jonathan Was Hired By Chance to Play the Role of Willie

According to Alison, the circumstances that got Jonathan to play the role of Willie on Little House on the Prairie were fortuitous but not planned. Melissa was auditioning; Jonathan was with her that day and he, too, was noticed by the producers.

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Alison recalls how the staff at the audition noticed Jonathan and decided he should play the role of Willie. After all, he was too young to be left behind in the car, so he would already be there with Melissa during her acting on the show, so they might as well fit him in.

Jonathan Disliked the Red-Carpet Treatment

Alison shared her knowledge of Jonathan, and how intensely he disliked the red-carpet treatment given to acclaimed stars. He simply did not like the intrusion into his private life.

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Alison remembers how she and Melissa would enjoy dressing up and attending various functions. Jonathan was usually busy playing pinball, and when asked whether he would go along, his typical reply was a flat “No.”

Jonathan Always Shunned Publicity

Jonathan, according to Alison, always avoided publicity. It seems he was an extremely private person, even as a child.

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Jonathan left the set once his work was over each day. He even moved out of Alison’s house when he had finished with work. Publicity, interviews, and showbiz were not for him, to the extent that he even avoided personal appearances and reunions while working on the show.

Jonathan Has Made a Life for Himself

Information on Jonathan can be found if one knows where to search. An internet search reveals that he is married to Keren Gilbert. Keren is a success in the diet and health food business and Jonathan is a success, too.

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It is also possible to find the interview that Keren did with the website InnovateLI in 2015, in which she talked about her husband. That interview is quite revealing.

Jonathan Has a Happy Family and is the Proud Father of Three

In the interview with InnovateLI, Keren said she and Jonathan have three children, all boys. Jonathan was present at that interview, too, and praised his wife.

Source: Instagram/@decisionnutrition

Keren has a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from NYU and heads a startup, Decision Nutrition, which is doing quite well. Jonathan said he’s always believed in Keren because she is so talented.

Jonathan and Keren Set to Earn Big Through the Diet Industry

Jonathan and Keren are all set to make it big in the billion-dollar diet industry. With his support and Keren’s talent, that is a foregone conclusion. Keren said during the interview that 7 years ago, she was down in the dumps, but Jonathan gave her great support.

Source: Instagram/@decisionnutrition

Jonathan proudly asserted that in one year Keren, would be twice as popular as she was at that time, and Keren prided herself on having a supportive partner. She added that it was a shame Jonathan did not give the same kind of support to Melissa.

More Heartache in Store for Melissa

While time can heal and Melissa learned to live with the absence of her brother, there was more heartache in store for her.

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Melissa accepted Jonathan’s absence, but she truly missed her mother. She would soon personally learn what it feels like for a mother to lose her son.

Melissa Weds Bo Brinkman But it is Not a Happy Marriage

When in love, everything seems rosy, and Melissa’s life was no different. Just six weeks after meeting Bo Brinkman in 1988, Melissa married him. They had a son, Dakota, from the union.

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It turned out that even though they’d married, they didn’t know each other too well. Alcohol and insecurity further aggravated the situation, leading to a deterioration of the relationship.

Melissa and Bo Go Their Separate Ways

Melissa and Bo separated, but it was not an amicable resolution to a marriage riven with strife. As if that separation were not painful enough, another bombshell was soon dropped, by Melissa’s son, Dakota.

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Just a few years after the couple separated, Dakota asked if he could live with his father. Melissa’s world fell apart, and she said she’d had horrible doubts about herself as to whether she had been a good enough mother to him.

Dakota Wants to Live with His Father

If the separation ended a period of agony for Melissa, all was not easy sailing afterward. She claims in her book that she was a good mother and prioritized Dakota. Still, what happened was unexpected and a blow to her feelings and self-esteem.

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She received a call from Bo that he was headed back to Texas. That, in itself, was not a big deal, but when Dakota wanted to move with his father, Melissa was devastated.

Distraught Melissa Goes to Counseling

Melissa was not at all broken up about the separation from her husband, but Dakota’s wish to move away was earth-shattering. Melissa turned to therapy in the hope of finding a solution.

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She wept, wanting to know why on earth Dakota wanted to leave her. The psychiatrist’s reply was revealing: There was nothing wrong with her, but there was something wrong enough with Bo that Dakota felt he had to go to Texas to take care of him.

Melissa Finds Herself between Scylla and Charybdis

It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for Melissa. If she denied her son permission to move, Dakota would perhaps hate her for the rest of his life. If she agreed, he might still hate her.

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She brought up the matter with her second husband, Bruce Boxleitner, whom she had married in 1995. They also had a son together. Bruce would find a way to work things out.

Bruce Finds a Way Out for Melissa

Bruce consoled Melissa and explained to her that Dakota was not going away forever. He would be back for the weekends, holidays, and summer.

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It was just a different way of dividing the visitation schedule, but Melissa still found it hard to accept the changed situation.

The Dam Breaks—Melissa Screams in Agony

Somehow, Melissa managed to stay in control as she drove Dakota to the airport and saw him board the flight. On her return trip on the freeway, she said she simply stopped the car and gave vent to all the pent-up frustration, anger, and sadness. She screamed her heart out.

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There was also deep sadness in that she compared herself to her mother and assumed she was no better. Just as her biological mother had given her away, Melissa felt that she had given away her child.

Dakota Matures into an Actor and Melissa Becomes a Grandmother

This, of course, is all water under the bridge now, and those agonizing moments are a distant memory. Today, times are happier for Melissa and Dakota, who are close to each other. Melissa need not have worried that she and her son would be separated forever.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

Over the years, Dakota became an actor and grew closer to his mother. He married and, in 2021, his wife, Marissa, gave birth to Melissa’s granddaughter. Ripley Lou Brinkman was born in June 2021, and Melissa was beside herself with joy and happiness.

Melissa Has a Big, Happy Family Now

Like wine that improves with age, Melissa matured and found great happiness in her family. She had another son with Bruce Boxleitner, naming him Michael after her Little House on the Prairie co-star Michael Landon.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

Melissa and Bruce separated in 2011 but maintain connections with Sam and Lee, Bruce’s sons from another marriage. In 2013, Melissa married actor Timothy Busfield and was happy to become a stepmom to his kids. She has one big happy family now.

Joy Reigns Supreme in Melissa’s Life

The bad and sad days are in the past and things are much better now. Joy now reigns supreme in Melissa’s life.

Source: Instagram/@melissagilbertofficial

Melissa is quite happy now, and she credits Timothy for much of the improved situation. She went as far as to express her feelings on Instagram, stating that she has never been more content, cherished, or happier, and that even the difficult days were filled with joy. But what about the rest of the cast of Little House on the Prairie?

Karen Grassle – Caroline Ingalls – Makes It to the Hall of Great Western Performers

Karen Grassle played the role of Caroline Ingalls, wife of Charles (Michael Landon). When she took on the role in Little House on the Prairie, she was relatively less known than Landon.

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The way she played the role of Caroline earned Karen praise from all around, and she even got her due place in the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998.

Karen Grassle Still Keeps Busy In Acting Roles In and Around San Francisco

Karen Grassle, unfortunately, never got another substantial role, but she continued to play smaller parts on various shows and was always in demand.

Source: Instagram/@karen_grassle

Karen also continued to act in theater shows and is successful in her way. Nowadays, Karen is quite involved in theater in and around San Francisco Bay Area and seems to be quite happy.

What About the Sisters, Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, Who Played Carrie Ingalls?

It fell to the twin sisters Lindsay and Sidney to portray Carrie Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. A tumble in the opening credits put the spotlight on them.

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It turned out that the tumble was not intentional. According to Lindsay, who talked about it in the People Weekly magazine in 2001, it happened because Sidney wore her shoes wrong and tripped.

Sidney Grows Up to Become a Rodeo Rider

Sidney and Lindsay went different ways once they grew up. They did appear in a few ads but left showbiz altogether to study in college.

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Lindsay went on to lead a quiet life in California, whereas Sidney turned into a pro rodeo rider, becoming a champion at barrel racing. She is quite good at what she does and rarely takes a tumble these days.

Melissa Sue Anderson – Mary Ingalls – Receives an Emmy Nomination

Melissa Sue Anderson was all of 12 years old when she was chosen to play Mary Ingalls, who loses her sight later in the series.

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Melissa came with excellent credentials, already acclaimed for her roles in The Brady Bunch and Bewitched, and she delivered to expectations on Little House on the Prairie. She earned an Emmy nomination in 1978 for her exquisite depiction of Mary.

The Run of Success Continues for Melissa Sue Anderson

You just can’t keep talent hidden. Melissa had a role in an ABC children’s program for which she earned a daytime award.

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The Daytime award was a high point in her career. Melissa also wrote and published her autobiography in which she focused on the role that brought her fame.

Katherine MacGregor – Harriet Oleson – Remarkably Villainous Portrayal

Harriet Oleson, portrayed by Katherine MacGregor, was the villain of Little House on the Prairie, a show that was otherwise was full of likable characters.

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Katherine undoubtedly infused an aura and an added dimension into Harriet, who was as nasty as they come: mean, full of greed and herself, and never missing a chance to gossip. Katherine played the part just perfectly.

Sadly, Katherine is No Longer With Us – She Passed Away in 2018

You’ve got to hand it to her, Katherine breathed life into the character of Harriet. In an interview with a Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper in 1982, she said that she added some humor and farce into her depiction of the villainous character.

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Sadly, the world lost a great talent when Katherine passed away in 2018 at the ripe old age of 93 at the California Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills. No one else could have portrayed Harriet better than she did.

Richard Bull – Nels Oleson – Character Actor Par Excellence

Richard Bull, a character actor, portrayed Nels Oleson to perfection in Little House on the Prairie. Those who have seen him as Nels will remember his nuanced depiction of various facets and emotions.

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Richard enjoyed himself immensely while working on the TV series. He loved the company and the fact that it was a steady job for a long time, he told the Wisconsin State Journal in 1975.

A Happy Married Life for Richard Bull

Richard was quite active in Hollywood but eventually settled down in Chicago with his wife, Barbara Collentine. Barbara is also an actor.

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The couple doted on each other as is evident from the fact that theirs was a marriage that lasted for 65 years and ended only with his passing in 2014. It is even more remarkable when you consider that both had acting backgrounds.

Kevin Hagen – Dr. Hiram Baker – A Portrayal of Unrequited Love

Kevin Hagen played the part of Dr. Hiram Baker, the town’s doctor, to perfection. However, in the TV series, although he tried to find love, he did not achieve his goal.

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Kate, Harriet Oleson’s niece, joined him in his rounds, and he thought she could be an object of his affection. However, when he saw her playing with the town children, he wisely concluded that she would much prefer a younger man.

Kevin Hagen Was More Successful with Ladies in Real Life

Dr. Hiram Baker might not have been lucky in love, but Kevin’s real life is an altogether different story. He married four times, and also had success as an actor.

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Kevin took on other TV series after Little House on the Prairie before moving to Grants Pass, Oregon. There, too, he worked on his own Doc Baker one-man shows. However, esophageal cancer brought his life to an untimely end in 2005 at the age of 77.

Alison Arngrim – Nellie Olson – Appearances Can Be Deceptive!

Alison was fantastic in the role of Nellie, so much so that the audiences truly hated her character! This is a tribute to her acting skills.

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Nellie constantly fought with Laura on the show, coming across as a mean and spoiled kid. Just goes to show that a sweet face can hide a devil within, at least in the Little House on the Prairie series.

Alison Develops into a Standup Comic and an Activist

The real-life Alison is different from the character she portrayed in Little House on the Prairie. She has a quick wit and a sense of comedy.

Source: Instagram/@alisonarngrim

Alison went on to become a well-known standup comic. She also penned a hilarious memoir of the famous TV series and called it Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. While she earned her living as a standup comic, she also worked as an HIV/AIDS activist, displaying the warm, human side of her personality.

Matthew Labyorteaux – Albert Quinn Ingalls – A Character on the Run

Matthew plays Laura’s adopted brother on the show. He ran away from home at least five times as Albert Quinn.

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Just like Melissa, Matthew was adopted and had childhood issues. Some medical professionals predicted he would struggle in the future.

Matthew Develops into a Voice Actor

Belying the predictions, Matthew Labyorteaux developed into a fine actor and then branched off into voice acting.

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Remarkably, Matthew did not speak a word until he was 5 years old. The now-successful voice actor lent his voice to several animated series, video games, and advertisements.

Dabbs Greer – Reverend Robert Alden – Man of Religion

Dabbs had a face that you see all the time on various shows but cannot put a name to. He was ubiquitous, with a full calendar working as a character actor.

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Dabs played the role of Reverend Robert Alden in Little House on the Prairie. His portrayal led to his similar roles in other shows.

Dabbs Greer Conducts Two On-Screen Marriage Ceremonies

Dabbs had the unique distinction of conducting the wedding ceremony for two sets of onscreen couples in the 1960s. He played the role of a military chaplain on The Dick Van Dyke Show who wed Rob and Laura Petrie.

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He then wed Mike and Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch. Dabbs settled down in Pasadena, California, in 1943 and passed away in 2007.

Dean Butler – Almanzo James Wilder – Captures Hearts of Viewers

The tall and handsome Dean captured Laura’s heart as Almanzo James Wilder. Their love story became the pivot of Little House on the Prairie.

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The couple eventually ended up becoming Mr. and Mrs. Butler. Was he hot!

Dean Butler Goes on to Become a Successful Actor

Dean Butler loved the TV series and was instrumental in producing narration as well as the DVDs.

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Dean went on to become a successful stage actor, starring in popular shows such as West Side Story and Into the Woods.

Ruth Foster – Melinda Foster – Develops into a Dancer

Ruth Foster played the role of Melinda Foster, the postwoman of Walnut Grove. However, she won a dance contest when she was 12 and would go on to become a professional dancer.

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uth danced in stage shows across the country while also performing with the Latin Quarter Show.

Ruth Foster’s Dancing Was a Lifelong Passion

Long after her role as the town’s postwoman, Ruth continued to dance, wowing audiences with The Palm Springs Follies and The Branson Follies.

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Would you believe it? She kept dancing up until she turned 85. Ruth passed away in Del Mar, California, at age 92.

Brenda and Wendi Turnbaugh – Grace Ingalls

The twins Brenda and Wendi Turnbaugh played the role of Grace Ingalls and had a lot of fun with it.

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The twins enjoyed jumping over cow patties and playing in the dressing room. However, they were well behaved, too.

Surprisingly, They Stopped Acting

Most child actors became adult actors. However, this was not the case with the Turnbaugh twins. They did only one show after the TV series.

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The twins wanted anonymity and even eventually took on their stepfather’s last name, Schlect. They remained friends for life, living close to each other, and eschewing fame.

Victor French – Isaiah Edwards – A Heart of Gold

Victor French played Isaiah Edwards, a rough-around-the-edges character perfectly depicted owing to his tough-guy looks.

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However, beneath the gruff exterior lay a heart of gold, and Isaiah was always helping the Ingalls family.

Victor French – A Multidimensional, Versatile Personality

Victor might have played a villain for much of his career before Little House on the Prairie, but he was multi-talented. He directed 18 of the 50 episodes of Little House on the Prairie.

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Victor starred in Carter Country after completing Little House on the Prairie. He passed away prematurely in 1989 at age 54 from lung cancer due to his heavy smoking habit. Victor had a comic streak and went out in style, though: A plane trailed a humorous message at his funeral: “Eat Shit, Love Victor.”

Merlin Olsen – Jonathan Garvey – From Football Star to Actor

Merlin Olsen was already a world-class football star before he took on the role of farmer Jonathan Garvey on Little House on the Prairie.

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Merlin played for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams for nearly a decade before he took up acting.

Merlin Develops Mesothelioma and Sues TV Studios

Unfortunately, Merlin was diagnosed in 2009 with mesothelioma, a form of cancer that develops after asbestos exposure.

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Merlin sued the TV studios, claiming that he was exposed to asbestos on the sets, which probably led to his developing deadly disease.

Charlotte Stewart – Eva Beadle – Remarries at 70!

Charlotte played the role of schoolteacher Eva Beadle-Simms in the series. She was widowed in 2012 when she was in her 70s. No one would have expected her to remarry, but she did, and to Michael Santos, whom she had known for 30 years. He is her sister’s husband’s brother.

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Charlotte’s portrayal of Eva Beadle endeared her to the cast and viewers, so it is to be expected she would continue with her acting career. She went on to star with David Lynch in the movie Eraserhead, and then on Twin Peaks. Eventually, she retired to Napa, California.

Patrick Labyorteaux – Andrew ‘Andy’ Garvey – Starts His Acting Career on Little House

Patrick Labyorteaux was another adopted child. He was malnourished at the time of his adoption and battled a host of mental issues afterward because of it.

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However, the loving care the Labyorteaux family gave him cured him of his mental issues, and he soon became a normal, healthy boy.

Patrick Gets into Acting and Philanthropy

After that iconic series, Patrick went on to act in a variety of TV shows and films. He is probably best remembered for his decade of work as a naval lawyer in the TV drama JAG.

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Patrick never forgot the kindness of the Labyorteaux family, founding a charity that raised millions to help runaway youths.

Karl Swenson – Lars Hanson – Had a Brief But Memorable Role in Little House

Karl played the role of the elderly Lars Hanson. He falls ill during his final appearance; Laura later informs the audience that he died.

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That turn in the story came about due to an unexpected development.

Swenson Wanted Out and Then He Passed Away

At the time of his last episode for Little House on the Prairie, Karl had asked the show’s lead actor and executive producer, Michael Landon, to release him because he had had enough of acting.

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Maybe he was prescient, but just a week after his final episode, Karl died in real life.