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.”