Melissa Gilbert was adopted as a new-born baby by a well-known Hollywood family. Her parents were actors and her grandfather was a television writer. Her parents divorced when she was eight and her adoptive father died when she was 11
became one of the principal actors, playing Laura Ingalls, in the long-running television series Little House on the Prairie, whose male lead, Michael Landon, became a surrogate father-figure to her. She has a large number of other acting credits to her name.
The family also includes an adopted brother, Jonathan, now a New York stockbroker, who as a child also acted in Little House on the Prairie, playing the part of Willie Oleson; he also later acted with Melissa in The Miracle Worker. Their half-sister, Sara, who played Darlene in the sitcom Roseanne, is not adopted.