Melissa Gilbert was born May 8, 1964 in L.A. A professional model and actress by the age of three, Gilbert became a natural in front of the camera. At 7 years old, Gilbert was featured in nearly 30 commercials. Her big career break came when she was cast as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Gilbert was one of over 500 young girls who tried out for the role, and Michael Landon was impressed by her powerful audition. He immediately knew he found his star and insisted that NBC look no further.
Based on the autobiographical books by the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, Gilbert was the breakout star who helped bring life on the Western frontier to modern audiences. For nine years, American audiences literally watched Gilbert blossom from childhood to adulthood. In between filming of the hit series, Gilbert starred in several critically acclaimed TV movies, including The Diary of Anne Frank, Family Secrets and The Miracle Worker.
After her Little House career, Gilbert became one of the hardest-working actresses in TV, starring in Splendor in the Grass, Switched at Birth, Sanctuary and Hollywood Wives: The New Generation. In 1997, Gilbert made her directorial debut with the TV movie Me and My Hormones. She also served two terms as president of Screen Actors Guild. She is married to actor Bruce Boxleitner. In 2009, she issued an autobiography, Prairie Tale: A Memoir, which revealed her history of alcohol and drug abuse. That same year, she portrayed "Ma" Ingalls in the musical production "Little House on the Prairie."
Laura Ingalls is the precocious and affable middle daughter of the Ingalls household. Fiercely dedicated to her family, half-pint, as Pa likes to call her, is an adventurer, a tomboy and quite fearless. Laura readily steps out on her own to explore the frontier and world around her. Her tender age and lower socio-economic status doesn't get in the way of satisfying her curiosity. Regardless of hardships or disappointments the family may suffer, Laura can often be found in the shadows eager to pitch in. She is determined that nothing or no one will get in her family's way; well, almost no one. Laura's arch nemesis and town brat, Nellie Oleson is constantly leering over Laura's shoulder to remind her of her social and economic disadvantages. But Nellie's taunts are no match for the reassured Laura. She's even bold enough to stand up to the town snobs, The Oleson's, especially their young daughter, Nellie. The two have enough mutual animosity for one another to fight. And they have. Tomboy, adventurous, took chances, close relationship with father, referred to half-pint.