Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$500 Thousand
May 8, 1964 (60 years old)
Los Angeles
5 ft 2 in (1.6 m)
Actor, Television Director, Voice Actor, Businessperson
United States of America
­čĺ░ Compare Melissa Gilbert's Net Worth

What is Melissa Gilbert's Net Worth and Salary?

Melissa Gilbert is an American actress and director who has a net worth of $500 thousand. That is a combined net worth with her husband since 2013, fellow actor Timothy Busfield. Melissa Gilbert has struggled financially and personally in recent years. She has experienced tax issues resulting from a cooling career and a costly divorce. More info on these issues later in the article below.

Melissa Gilbert began her career in the late 60s as a child actress. She had her breakthrough role in 1974 when she started portraying writer Laura Ingalls Wilder on the NBC historical drama television series "Little House on the Prairie." Later, in 2016, Gilbert entered politics as a Democratic candidate running for Congress for Michigan's 8th congressional district.

After Little House ended, Gilbert appeared mostly in TV movies and feature films, including "Sylvester," "Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife," "Killer Instinct," "Without Her Consent," "Forbidden Nights," "The Lookalike," "Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story," "Cries from the Heart," "The Soul Collector," and "Hollywood Wives: The New Generation." She voiced Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in "Batman: The Animated Series" from 1992 until 1994 and had a main role on "Sweet Justice" as Kate Delacroy from 1994 until 1995.

Gilbert competed on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2012, but was eliminated during the eighth week.

She has been nominated for one Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Special for "The Miracle Worker" in 1980 and for one Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama for "Little House on the Prairie." She won two Young Artist Awards for her work on the iconic show.

Gilbert served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 until 2005, when she decided not to seek re-election. In her 2009 memoir, "Prairie Tale," Gilbert documents her battle with alcohol and drug abuse.

Early Life

Melissa Gilbert was born on May 8, 1964 in Los Angeles, California to David and Kathy. Immediately following her birth, she was given up for adoption; one day later, she was adopted by actor Paul Gilbert and his wife, actress Barbara Crane. When Gilbert was eight years old, her adoptive parents divorced. Her mother subsequently wed Harold Abeles, with whom she had a daughter named Sara. Gilbert also has a brother named Jonathan who was adopted by her parents. When Gilbert was 11, her adoptive father passed away by suicide. Later, her mother and stepfather divorced.

Career Beginnings

Beginning her career as a child actress in the late 60s, Gilbert appeared in numerous television commercials. In 1968, she made an appearance in the Christmas episode of "The Dean Martin Comedy Hour." Gilbert returned to television in the early 70s with appearances on such shows as "Gunsmoke," "Emergency!," and "Tenafly."

"Little House on the Prairie"

In 1974, Gilbert landed her breakthrough role on the NBC historical drama series "Little House on the Prairie," based on the "Little House" book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. On the show, Gilbert starred as Laura, the second oldest daughter of Charles Ingalls, played by Michael Landon, and Caroline Ingalls, played by Karen Grassle. Her siblings on the show were played by Melissa Sue Anderson and Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush. For her role as Laura, Gilbert beat out more than 500 other child actresses. "Little House on the Prairie" was a great success, running through 1982. There was also a sequel series called "Little House: A New Beginning" that aired afterward, concluding in 1983, as well as a handful of subsequent "Little House" television films.

Melissa Gilbert

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Further Television Career

During her years on "Little House on the Prairie," Gilbert appeared in a number of television films. In the late 70s, she was in "Christmas Miracle in Caulfield, U.S.A." and an adaptation of "The Miracle Worker," in which she portrayed Helen Keller. For her performance as Keller, she earned an Emmy Award nomination. Early in the 80s, Gilbert portrayed Anne Frank in an adaptation of "The Diary of Anne Frank." She also starred in a television remake of "Splendor in the Grass," and played missionary Jean Donovan in "Choices of the Heart." Over the remainder of the 80s, Gilbert starred in the television films "Family Secrets," "Choices," "Penalty Phase," "Killer Instinct," and "Chameleons."

On the small screen, Gilbert has continued to mostly star in television series. Her credits in the 90s included "Without Her Consent," "Forbidden Nights," "The Lookalike," "Family of Strangers," "Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story," "Seduction in a Small Town," "Her Own Rules," "The Soul Collector," and "Mistaken Identity." In the 2000s, Gilbert was in such television shows as "Sanctuary," "Then Came Jones," "Heart of the Storm," "Thicker Than Water," and "Sacrifices of the Heart." She has also had some significant roles on regular series, including a main role on the short-lived Fox sitcom "Stand by Your Man" and another main role on the NBC legal drama "Sweet Justice." Additionally, Gilbert had recurring roles on "Batman: The Animated Series" and "Secrets and Lies." Among her other credits, she competed in season 14 of the dance competition series "Dancing with the Stars." Paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, she finished in fifth place. In 2017, she starred in "Tenure," and in 2018 she portrayed Mary Russell in "Hometown Christmas."

Film Career

Gilbert made her feature film debut in the 1967 comedy "The Reluctant Astronaut," starring Don Knotts. She didn't appear on the big screen again until 1985, when she starred as a young horse trainer in the family drama "Sylvester." Gilbert has not worked much on film since then; her few credits have included the direct-to-video romance "Safe Harbour" and the drama "Guest Artist." In 2019, Gilbert appeared in "When We Last Spoke."

SAG President

Following a heated candidacy in 2001, Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, beating Valerie Harper. She was reelected in 2003, beating Kent McCord. Gilbert subsequently chose not to seek a third term.

2016 Congressional Candidate

In the summer of 2015, Gilbert announced her candidacy for the US House of Representatives, running for Michigan's 8th congressional district. However, despite winning the primary and becoming the district's presumptive Democratic nominee, she suspended her campaign in the spring of 2016 due to health issues.

Personal Life

Gilbert was engaged to actor Rob Lowe in the 80s; however, the two ultimately broke it off. She next dated actor Bo Brinkman, whom she married in 1988. The couple had a son named Dakota before divorcing in 1992. Shortly after this, Gilbert began a relationship with actor and author Bruce Boxleitner, whose former wife set the two up. Incidentally, they had met on "Battle of the Network Stars" when Gilbert was a teenager. After getting engaged twice and breaking them off both times, Gilbert and Boxleitner finally got married in 1995. They had a son named Michael, and eventually divorced in 2011. She has been married to actor Timothy Busfield since 2013.

Tax Issues

In June 2015, it was revealed that Melissa Gilbert reportedly owed $360,000 in federal income taxes. She reportedly worked out a payment plan with the IRS. This was her second run-in with the IRS. She reportedly owed $112,000 in 2013. Gilbert released the following statement to explain her financial problem:

"Like so many people across the nation, the recession hit me hard.┬áThat, plus a divorce and a death of acting opportunities the last few years, created a perfect storm of financial difficulty for me." – Melissa Gilbert

Real Estate

In 2014, Melissa Gilbert listed her Tarzana home in Los Angeles for $1.195 million.

In 2019, Melissa and Timothy paid $98,000 for a 14-acre property in New York's Catskill mountains, roughly 20 minutes from Woodstock. This is the current primary residence. They also lived in Howell, Michigan, before moving to New York City in late 2018.

Melissa Gilbert Career Earnings

  • Little House on the Prairie
    $75 Thousand/week
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