'Little House on the Prairie' Stars Melissa Gilbert and Jonathan Gilbert Were Siblings in Real Life but He Cut Himself off from the Family at 18

Melissa Gilbert is a famous personality in Hollywood; however, not many know that she has a brother who decided to cut ties with the family when he clocked 18. Here's how she feels about it. 

Melissa Gilbert rose to fame after she portrayed Laura Ingalls on the NBC drama series "Little House on the Prairie." The show ran from 1974 until 1982, but fans have never forgotten the cast. 

Melissa was not the only Gilbert who starred in the hit series. Her brother, Jonathan, played Willie Oleson, Nellie's trouble-making brother, but unlike her, his career in acting did not amount to much, and neither did their relationship as siblings. 

 Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls and Jonathan Gilbert as Willie Oleson from  'Little House on the Prairie' Screen reader support enabled. | Photo: Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls and Jonathan Gilbert as Willie Oleson from 'Little House on the Prairie' Screen reader support enabled. | Photo: Getty Images

Melissa was an adoptee into the Gilbert family, but so was Jonathan. Actor Paul Gilbert and his wife, actress/dancer Barbara Cowan, adopted and raised them alongside one another, but when Jonathan clocked 18, he chose to sever ties with the family. 

She wrote about how she feels about his leaving in a memoir. There was no explanation for his behavior, only that he just up and left, only making appearances in their lives once or twice per decade. 

Melissa Gilbert at the 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara, California in February 2019. | Image: Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert at the 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara, California in February 2019. | Image: Getty Images

Melissa wrote about being "strangely at peace with it." She only ached for her mother, who she suspected missed him a lot. At the time, she had no idea she would also grow up to know that same pain. 

Aside from Melissa and her brother, other cast members that joined hands to make "Little House on the Prairie" a success include; Michael Landon, who acted as Charlie Ingalls; Karen Grassle, who played Caroline Ingalls; and Melissa Sue Anderson, who portrayed Mary Ingalls. Here is what became of them. 

JONATHAN LEFT ACTING FOR FINANCE

Jonathan did okay as an actor, so nobody suspected he had a head for numbers. He participated in "The Miracle Worker" (1979) and "Little House: The Last Farewell" (1984) but decided to take a step away from acting afterward. 

Melissa maintains a close relationship with all five, even though her relationship with their fathers is over. 

Melissa Gilbert's brother went on to earn an MBA in finance, and as of 2014, Jonathan was working as a stockbroker in New York City. 

Michael Landon, Melissa Sue Anderson, Jonathan Gilbert on "Little House on the Prairie" | Photo: Getty Images

Michael Landon, Melissa Sue Anderson, Jonathan Gilbert on "Little House on the Prairie" | Photo: Getty Images

MICHAEL LANDON DIED OF CANCER 

Landon played the role of pa like he was born for it. After Melissa's father passed away in February 1975, Landon became an important mentor and friend to the actress. 

That relationship took a wrong turn after they had a mysterious falling-out which made them quit speaking to each other from the moment the "Little House on the Prairie" show ended until 1991. He passed away later that year from cancer at the age of 54. 

Michael Landon Starring in "Bonanza" | Photo: Getty Images

Michael Landon Starring in "Bonanza" | Photo: Getty Images

MELISSA SUE ANDERSON NOW HAS A FAMILY OF HER OWN

Anderson's character suffered the most among the rest of the "Little House on the Prairie" characters. She played Mary, who lost her eyesight at a young age, and her baby to a fire. These days she enjoys life as a family woman in Montreal alongside her husband and two children. 

MELISSA GILBERT NOW

After the show that secured her fame ended, Melissa remained active in the acting industry as a teen and eventually a woman. 

Melissa Sue Anderson appears on NBC News' "Today" show on May 3rd, 2010 | Photo: Getty Images

Melissa Sue Anderson appears on NBC News' "Today" show on May 3rd, 2010 | Photo: Getty Images

She later returned to the project when she starred in the role initially played by Karen Grassle on television, as Ma in the touring production of "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical."

As far as family is concerned, she is a doting mother to two children; Dakota Brinkman, whom she shares with her first husband Bo Brinkman; and Michael Boxleitner, whose father was her second husband. 

Aside from those two, Melissa is also a stepmom to five other children. She is currently married to Timothy Busfield, her third husband. 

Of her five step-kids, he fathered three while her second husband, Bruce Boxleitner, is father to the remaining two. Melissa maintains a close relationship with all five, even though her relationship with their fathers is over. 

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