For close to a decade, fans of the "Little House on the Prairie" knew Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingall, a farmer's daughter, but behind the screens, her steamy trysts with Hollywood's rock stars and playboys was turning her life upside down.
Gilbert was born in 1964 in Los Angeles, California, to David Darlington and Kathy Wood, a newly engaged couple. A day after she came into the world, her parents gave her up for adoption.
The new lucky parents were comedian and actor Paul Gilbert and Barbara Crane, an actress and dancer. Her adopted brother Jonathan also starred on "Little House on the Prairie," alongside Gilbert.
Melissa Gilbert with her three husbands, Rob Lowe, Bruce Boxleitner, and Tim Busfield. | Source: Getty Images
Gilbert's career in the film industry began as a child star in the '60s, appearing in TV series such as "The Miracle Worker" and " The Diary of Anna Frank," as well as numerous commercials. For the entire course of the show, she played Laura Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie."
Her career continued as an adult, starring in "Choices of the Heart" and "Babylon 5". She also did some voiceover work for "Batman: The Animated Series." Her work was so well received that she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Her works were, however, not limited to acting. In 2012, the actress joined the ABC reality dance show as a contestant in season fourteen.
Actress Melissa Gilbert visits the SiriusXM Studios on November 17, 2017 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
Besides her acting career, Gilbert's private tumultuous life also became an acting force as her life descended into a whirl of sex, alcohol, and drugs.
Her love life began on the set of "Little House on the Prairie" when she began dating Michael Landon's son, Michael Landon Jr. Soon after, she was dating heartthrob Rob Lowe.
HER FIRST SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP
Lowe and Gilbert first met when Gilbert was only a teenager and she was doing a talk show on the lot. Lowe came running to introduce himself to her, and as he would reveal to her years later, he'd tucked a script under his arm so Gilbert would know he was a working actor.
They developed a close friendship, and years later, when Gilbert was only 17 years old, they met again and exchanged numbers, and they fell in love soon after. She says:
“I fell instantly, hopelessly and stupidly in love. We went from first date to instant couple. I felt like I was starving for Rob.”
The two, despite being in love, were tied to several affairs while still dating. Lowe's indiscretions included Nastassja Kinski and Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Gilbert, on the other hand, was cheating with Scott Baio and Tom Cruise.
Gilbert says Cruise was a struggling actor, being fresh on the scenes. She says he had it so bad that she stepped up and bought him his first set of dishes. Speaking to Andy Cohen decades later, she said there had been no sexual intimacy between them.
However, despite the infidelity from both parties, Lowe proposed to Gilbert in 1986. Soon after, Gilbert announced to her husband-to-be that she was expecting, but Lowe did not take the news positively, and Gilbert was devastated.
The "St. Elmo's Fire" actor was not ready to be a father, or a husband, for that matter. That ended their relationship, and in hindsight, Gilbert felt they had been too young to pursue a healthy full-time relationship.
Soon after the split, Gilbert suffered a miscarriage. She said the pain from both losses — that of her fiance and her baby — eventually drove her further into alcoholism.
FIRST MARRIAGE TO BO BRINKMAN
After her split from Lowe, Gilbert met and married actor Bo Brinkman after only six weeks of dating. From the onset, their marriage was fuelled by alcohol, and Gilbert continued to entertain the habit long after they had their first baby, Dakota Paul Brinkman.
Brinkman was anything but committed to the marriage, and after numerous extra-marital affairs, the couple split. Their short marriage lasted for four years, between 1988 and 1992.
The divorce once again became a reason for Gilbert to continue drinking. The vice got so bad that she would drink up to two bottles of wine daily by herself.
Despite the rough start to their relationship, [Gilbert and Boxleitner] stayed married for 16 years.
SECOND MARRIAGE AND ANOTHER SON
Mere weeks after divorcing her first husband, Bruce Boxleitner's ex-wife set Gilbert up to meet him. The two were, however, no strangers to each other.
They had met years ago when doing the "Battle of the Network Stars." Gilbert would later reveal that Boxleitner had been her teenage crush. After the reconnection, they were in an on-and-off relationship for a year.
Soon after, the lovebirds were dating seriously and even got engaged twice. In both instances, it was Boxleitner who called off the engagements. The third time's a charm, they say, and for Gilbert and Boxleitner, it was indeed.
They reconnected for the third time in 1995, and this time around, they got married. They held a small marriage "ceremony" in Gilbert's mother's living room and were well on their way to begin their married life together.
Actress Melissa Gilbert signs and discusses her new book "My Prairie Cookbook" at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on March 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
Nine months later, they welcomed their son Michael Garrett Boxleitner into the world. The couple raised their four sons together. Dakota, from Gilbert's first marriage, Lee and Sam from Boxleitner's marriage to Kathryn Holcomb and Michael, whom they shared.
Despite the rough start to their relationship, the couple stayed married for 16 years, but in 2011, their marital bliss ended when Gilbert filed for divorce from Boxleitner, citing irreconcilable differences.
MARRIAGE TO TIM BUSFIELD
Gilbert took one last shot at love when she married actor Timothy Busfield in 2013. The duo had crossed paths numerous times in different movies and TV shows, but their love was born after they met at a bar.
Busfield was out getting a beer, intending to find a spot where he could watch sports on TV. He was convinced this one spot would be empty, but when he walked in, he saw Gilbert, and he was so taken with her he just had to speak to her.
The "Revenge of the Nerds" actor was so smitten with Gilbert that he requested they have brunch the following morning. Closer reports him to have spoken to MTV, saying:
"We've been inseparable since."
The couple officiated their union in an intimate wedding ceremony in 2013 in Santa Barbara. Busfield is an actor starring in "Field of Dreams" and "Little Big League." He is also an Emmy award winner.
The two are still going strong, and Gilbert, 57, will not stop gushing over the love of her life on her social media pages. She says after years of looking, she finally met and married her soulmate.
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