‘Little House on the Prairie’ star Melissa Gilbert ‘doesn’t miss Hollywood’ after moving to rural mountain home

Little House on the Prairie was one of the most popular and successful TV shows of its era. The wholesome historical drama about the adventures of the Ingalls family, based on the classic book series, ran for 9 seasons and has won over generations of fans.

And while the show was filmed in California, its depiction of a simpler frontier life in Walnut Grove, Minnesota left an impact on many people — including one of the show’s stars, who says she has no regrets about leaving Hollywood for the country.

Melissa Gilbert was just a child when she landed her defining role, playing Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Filming the show between the ages of 8 and 18, she literally grew up on set, and the experience changed her life, including finding a father figure in her on-screen dad Michael Landon.

“I loved my job from the get go,” she told Parade. “I certainly enjoyed being on the set of Little House on the Prairie. It was a great place to grow up if you are a child performer, and was fun and amazing.”

While she’ll always be remembered by fans as Laura, her adventures in Hollywood didn’t end with Little House. She starred in television films like The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker, served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 to 2005, placed fifth as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and even ran for Congress in Michigan’s 8th congressional district in 2016, winning the Democratic primary before withdrawing due to health issues.

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Gilbert is now 58 and became a grandmother for the first time last summer — and in recent years has left Hollywood for a rural life in the Catskills.

The actress recently released a new memoir, Back to the Prairie: A Home Remade, A Life Rediscovered. According to the book’s description, her husband Timothy Busfield introduced her to the joys of outdoor living, and during the COVID-19 pandemic the two began a “life changing” project of restoring a “ramshackle” home in the mountains.

“She trades Botox treatments for DIY projects, power lunching for gardening and raising chickens, and soon her life is rediscovered anew in her own little house in the Catskills,” the description reads.

In recent interviews, Gilbert says that fixing up the old house into a home took quite a lot of elbow grease. “It had no heat, and the plumbing was kind of wonky,” she said in an interview with Fox News. “It was like the people had just wrapped up out of the house and it sat there for decades like that.”

“When we walked in the front door — I’ve smelled musty places, [but] I’ve never smelled anything like the smell that came from this house,” she told Next Avenue. “It was overwhelming.”

“But… the more we stood in that musty, stinky, crowded place, the more I started to see past all of that stuff, and to see that this place had the potential for being something incredibly special,” she added.

Even after fixing up the home, Gilbert has plenty of work to do each morning straight out of a Little House rerun: she keeps chickens, plants crops and continues to do home renovation projects on the house.

Still, she and her husband soon realized that this was their home — and it’s such a fit that she’s happy to leave Hollywood and showbiz behind for good. “I don’t miss Hollywood,” she told Fox, though conceded that she missed her friends and relatives.

When asked if her experiences filming Little House inspired a love for the outdoors, Gilbert said “100%,” saying that although the show was filmed in Hollywood, it still introduced her at an early age to outdoor living.

“When I was a little girl growing up on the Little House on the Prairie set, I had so much fun whenever we would film outside,” she said. It always felt like a big adventure, to be in the outdoors and play while working. I just loved the feeling it gave me.”

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While going from Hollywood to the mountains was quite a change of scenery, Gilbert says she’s settled into a very happy life with her husband, and feels at home in the Catskills. “I feel really good about where I am in my life right now,” she told Next Avenue.

She told Fox News that she hopes people reading the book realize “it really is the sweet, simple things that are the best and most important in life.”

“Maybe it will inspire people to be a little more gentle and loving with each other,” she said.

You can take the girl out of the “Prairie” but not the prairie out of the girl: decades after starring on Little House, it’s clear that Melissa Gilbert still has that pioneer spirit, and we’re so glad she’s living her best life in the mountains!

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