She literally grew up before our eyes. NBC has been part of Melissa Gilbert’s life for as long as she can remember.
Now "Little House on the Prairie" star Gilbert will help honor NBC's 90th anniversary, the network that has engrossed her, like many others, from a young age.
NBC's nine decades of programming will be commemorated on Sunday, Feb. 19, with a three-hour special hosted by Emmy-winning actor Kelsey Grammer. “The Paley Center Salutes NBC’s 90th Anniversary” will feature interviews from popular personalities, including Gilbert, and clips from some of the most iconic and revered programming, from "Little House on the Prairie" to “Friends."
“I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Gilbert said. “I’m thrilled to have been a part of the legacy of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and to have had that extraordinary opportunity. It’s the reason I have a career.”
Gilbert comes from a family of television writers. Her father was a writer for “Playhouse 90” and her grandfather wrote material for the Dean Martin specials. Her first appearance on television was at age 4, on “uncle Dean’s” Christmas special.
Her role as Laura Ingalls on “Little House” started when she was 9-years-old. Gilbert says it was instrumental in developing her as an actress and setting her up to excel in other roles, such as Anne Frank in "The Diary of Anne Frank" and Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker."
When asked about her fondest memories from filming “Little House,” Gilbert said they all revolve around “the sense of comradery and family that Michael [Landon] imbued into everything he did.” Landon was a co-star on the show, playing father Charles Ingalls, and directed a large portion of the episodes.
“No one was above anyone else,” she said. “It was an egalitarian set to be on. The only thing he expected us to be was professional.”
Gilbert named “ER,” “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “This is Us” as some of her other favorite NBC shows. She said she is completely hooked on “This is Us,” and that the show is as if “'Little House on the Prairie' and 'Thirtysomething' had a baby.”
Gilbert has fully recovered from her latest spinal fusion surgery and is enjoying the quiet life in her Michigan residence. But her deep gratitude for the network that helped her launch her career is still her true "home."
“Whenever I go to NBC Burbank or 30 Rock I always say, ‘I’m going home.’”
“The Paley Center Salutes NBC’s 90th Anniversary” airs on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 8-11 p.m.