Last Halloween, kids in Howell, Mich., got an extra treat at one Victorian home: Legendary actress Melissa Gilbert answered the doorbell.
“She was dressed in a witch costume,” shares local writer Buddy Moorehouse, who trick-or-treated with his daughter. The Little House on the Prairie star, he says, “was handing out full-size candy bars, so it was one of the more popular houses.” In fact, it’s been the town’s most famous residence ever since Melissa, 51, moved there with her husband, Thirtysomething actor Timothy Busfield, 58.
Melissa on Little House on the Prairie.
Howell’s a far cry from Hollywood — and that’s a good thing for Melissa, say insiders. “She was born and raised in Southern California and had been an actress there since she could walk. To see a different way of living, a more rural, down-home lifestyle, has been a wonderful change,” shares one source. Adds another, “LA began to make her feel old, since it’s a city that so prizes youth.”
Driving by nightclubs she once partied at “would sometimes make her wonder, Where has all the time gone?” Once Melissa settled in Howell, something else was soon gone: She removed her double-D breast implants. Says Moorehouse: “I think it was a symbolic thing.”
Melissa reading from her children's book in 2014.
The star’s road from the spotlight to a small town was paved with triumphs — and tragedies. Just nine-years-old when she landed the role of Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House, Melissa grew up on the series that ran from 1974 to 1983. Yet her adult life was less charmed: She’s weathered alcohol and substance abuse, plus two painful divorces, from actor-director Bo Brinkman and Scarecrow and Mrs. King’s Bruce Boxleitner.
For more on Melissa, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!