Melissa Gilbert

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour Archive interview Melissa Gilbert discusses her career as an actress/producer/director. She shares stories of her famous grandfather, Honeymooners creator Harry Crane, and recalls her early foray into acting in television commercials. Gilbert then details her time playing "Laura Ingalls" on the much beloved series Little House on the Prairie. She describes working with Michael Landon, and recounts memorable episodes, including "The Lord is My Shepherd," "Laura Ingalls Wilder," in which her character gets married, and the series finale, "The Long Farewell." Gilbert talks of playing Helen Keller in the TV movie The Miracle Worker, for which she was nominated for an Emmy, discusses playing the title role in the made for TV movie, The Diary of Anne Frank, and speaks of her production company, Half-Pint Productions. She also describes her directorial debut on the after-school special, Me and My Hormones. Amy Harrington conducted the interview on April 18, 2011 in Tarzana, CA.

"I went in and I remember doing the screen test … I did a scene with Michael [Landon] about him not being sorry that Jack drowned, and looking up at the stars. And I remember, clear as anything, the two of us doing the scene and him looking at me with tears in his eyes. And, I choke up just talking about it, instantly bringing me to tears. Which made it so, it was just so easy. It, I didn't know at the time, was the beginning of what we would be able to do to each other on camera for all those years. There was some sort of symbiotic connection there. I found out later, many, many years later, that when it came time to take the screen test to the network, he only took mine. 'Cause he knew. He didn't give them any other choices. He just said, 'that's Laura. That's Half Pint.'" 

Highlights
Melissa Gilbert on her grandfather Harry Crane, creator of The Honeymooners
06:07
Melissa Gilbert on "Laura Ingalls Wilder" episode of Little House on the Prairie where her character gets married
01:43
Melissa Gilbert on the final episode of Little House on the Prairie, "The Last Farewell" and blowing up the set
04:19
Melissa Gilbert on being nominated for an Emmy for The Miracle Worker
01:31
Melissa Gilbert on running for and becoming SAG President
06:06
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and being adopted; on her grandfather Harry Crane, creator of The Honeymooners; on her childhood in the Valley; on deciding to be an actress and how she got involved in the business - started in commercials
On her first TV role - on Gunsmoke; on appearing on Emergency; on appearing on Dean Martin's Christmas Special
On getting cast as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie; on Michael Landon's fabulous hair; on the premise of Little House on the Prairie; on her character "Laura Ingalls"; on how closely the TV series followed the books; on how she learned she won the role
On Michael Landon's importance to the show; on Michael Landon getting disillusioned with the series and leaving the show; on "Laura Ingall's" style

Chapter 2

On the production schedule for Little House on the Prairie; on realizing she was famous and on her fans; on reactions from peers
On specific episodes of Little House on the Prairie: "The Lord is My Shepherd," and "Laura Ingalls Wilder;" on finding out the show was canceled; on the final episode of the show, "The Last Farewell;" on the legacy of Little House on the Prairie; on Michael Landon's impact on the industry; on Production Manager Kent McCray
On doing talk shows as a child; on doing an episode of Fernwood 2-Night; on appearing on Hollywood Squares as a child and as an adult; on appearing on Battle of the Network Stars; on becoming a spokesperson for the Action Drug Prevention Program
On starting Half-Pint Productions; on playing "Helen Keller" in the play and TV movie, The Miracle Worker; on being nominated for an Emmy for The Miracle Worker; on starring in and producing Diary of Anne Frank

Chapter 3

On the TV movie Splendor in the Grass; on Choices with George C. Scott; on the sitcom Stand by Your Man; on doing the voice for "Batgirl" on the animated Batman series; on the short-lived series Sweet Justice; on appearing on Babylon 5
On directing the after-school special Me and My Hormones; on serving as President of the Screen Actors Guild; on 9/11 happening in the middle of her SAG campaign for President; on her responsibilities as SAG President; on attempts to merge SAG and AFTRA; on the mission of SAG
On appearing on Touched By an Angel, and Nip/Tuck; on playing "Ma" in "Little House: The Musical;" on advice to aspiring actors; on advice to sister Sara Gilbert when she started acting; on the highlight of her career; on upcoming projects - books she's written
Shows

Babylon 5

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Babylon 5
02:05

Batman

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Melissa Gilbert on doing the voice for "Batgirl" on the animated Batman series
01:30

Battle of the Network Stars

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Battle of the Network Stars
02:02

Dean Martin Show, The

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Melissa Gilbert on visiting her grandfather Harry Crane at The Dean Martin Show
00:56

Diary of Anne Frank, The

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Melissa Gilbert on starring in and producing Diary of Anne Frank
02:51

Emergency!

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Emergency
01:36

Fernwood 2 Night

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Melissa Gilbert on doing an episode of Fernwood 2-Night
00:54

Gunsmoke

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Melissa Gilbert on her first TV role - on Gunsmoke
02:25

Hollywood Squares, The

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Hollywood Squares and dining with Paul Lynde
02:14

Little House on the Prairie

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Melissa Gilbert on getting cast as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie
08:06
Melissa Gilbert on the premise of Little House on the Prairie
03:10
Melissa Gilbert on her role on Little House on the Prairie
19:27
Melissa Gilbert on the production schedule for Little House on the Prairie
13:43
Melissa Gilbert on "The Lord is My Shepherd"episode of Little House on the Prairie
02:35
Melissa Gilbert on the final episode of Little House on the Prairie, "The Last Farewell"
04:19

Little House on the Prairie: "The Last Farewell"

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Melissa Gilbert on the final episode of Little House on the Prairie, "The Last Farewell"
04:19

Little House on the Prairie: "The Lord is My Shepherd"

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Melissa Gilbert on "The Lord is My Shepherd"episode of Little House on the Prairie
02:35

Miracle Worker, The

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Melissa Gilbert on playing "Helen Keller" in The Miracle Worker
08:31

Nip/Tuck

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Nip/Tuck
02:52

Stand By Your Man

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Melissa Gilbert on the sitcom Stand by Your Man - one of FOX's first sitcoms
05:40

Sweet Justice

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Melissa Gilbert on the short-lived series Sweet Justice
04:13

Touched By an Angel

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Touched By an Angel
01:21
Topics

9/11

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Melissa Gilbert on 9/11 happening in the middle of her SAG campaign for President
02:07

Characters & Catchphrases

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Melissa Gilbert on playing "Laura Ingalls" on Little House on the Prairie
03:19
Melissa Gilbert on her character "Laura Ingalls" on Little House on the Prairie
06:20

Emmy Awards

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Melissa Gilbert on being nominated for an Emmy for The Miracle Worker
01:31

Fame and Celebrity

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Melissa Gilbert on realizing she was famous; on her fans
04:47
Professions

Actress

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Melissa Gilbert on how she got involved in acting
01:27
Genres

Drama Series

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Melissa Gilbert on getting cast as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie
30:43
Melissa Gilbert on "The Lord is My Shepherd"episode of Little House on the Prairie
02:35

Game Shows

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Hollywood Squares and dining with Paul Lynde
02:14

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Melissa Gilbert on working with Patty Duke on The Miracle Worker
06:01
Melissa Gilbert on the TV movie Splendor in the Grass
06:16
Melissa Gilbert on Choices with George C. Scott
03:48
People

Ernest Borgnine

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Melissa Gilbert on "The Lord is My Shepherd"episode of Little House on the Prairie
02:35

Bruce Boxleitner

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on husband Bruce Boxleitner's series Babylon 5
02:05
Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Touched By an Angel with husband Bruce Boxleitner
00:58

Robert Conrad

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Melissa Gilbert on her Battle of the Network Stars coach Bob Conrad
00:28

Harry Crane

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Melissa Gilbert on her grandfather Harry Crane, creator of The Honeymooners
06:07

Patty Duke

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Melissa Gilbert on working with Patty Duke on The Miracle Worker
06:01
Melissa Gilbert on Patty Duke's support when Gilbert served on the SAG board and as President
03:07

Sara Gilbert

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Melissa Gilbert on advice to sister Sara Gilbert when she started acting
01:04

Valerie Harper

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Melissa Gilbert on running for and becoming SAG President, running against Valerie Harper
06:06

Katherine Helmond

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Melissa Gilbert on her first TV role - on Gunsmoke, as Katherine Helmond's daughter
02:25

Michael Landon

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Melissa Gilbert on her grandfather calling Michael Landon
00:51
Melissa Gilbert on Michael Landon
03:50
Melissa Gilbert on Michael Landon telling her something she needed to hear in order to get through a scene
01:32
Melissa Gilbert on Michael Landon
04:17
Melissa Gilbert on Michael Landon creating a reasonable, comfortable work schedule
05:51
Melissa Gilbert on "The Lord is My Shepherd"episode of Little House on the Prairie
02:35
Melissa Gilbert on Michael Landon's impact on the industry
03:23

Paul Lynde

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Hollywood Squares and dining with Paul Lynde
02:14

Garry Marshall

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Melissa Gilbert on Garry Marshall being her grandfather's assistant
00:25

Dean Martin

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Melissa Gilbert on visiting her grandfather Harry Crane at The Dean Martin Show
00:56
Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Dean Martin's Christmas Special
02:10

Kent McCray

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Melissa Gilbert on Production Manager Kent McCray
02:43

Dennis Miller

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Melissa Gilbert on going on Dennis Miller's talk show to promote Stand by Your Man
00:26

Rosie O'Donnell

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Melissa Gilbert on working with Rosie O Donnell Stand by Your Man
01:39

Laurence Olivier

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Melissa Gilbert on Laurence Olivier being on the set of Diary of Anne Frank
00:10

Michelle Pfeiffer

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Melissa Gilbert on Michelle Pfeiffer in the TV movie Splendor in the Grass
00:56

Joan Plowright

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Melissa Gilbert on starring in and producing Diary of Anne Frank
02:51

Nancy Reagan

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Melissa Gilbert on becoming a spokesperson for the Action Drug Prevention Program
02:31

Boris Sagal

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Melissa Gilbert on starring in and producing Diary of Anne Frank, directed by Boris Sagal
02:51

George C. Scott

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Melissa Gilbert on Choices with George C. Scott
03:48

Cicely Tyson

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Melissa Gilbert on the short-lived series Sweet Justice
04:13

Dennis Weaver

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Melissa Gilbert on appearing on Dean Martin's Christmas Special with Dennis Weaver
02:10

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