This Girl Became a Successful Child Star after Bio Parents Gave Her up to Family Who Had ‘No Plans’ to Adopt

The Remarkable Journey of Melissa Gilbert: From Adoption to Stardom

Melissa Gilbert’s story is a testament to resilience and transformation, from being given up for adoption as a baby to becoming a beloved television star.

A New Beginning: Adoption

Born on May 8, 1964, at The French Hospital in Los Angeles, Melissa was just 24 hours old when she was welcomed into the home of Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert. Her biological parents, focused on their careers, decided they were unable to raise her and chose adoption as the best path for her future.

Barbara and Paul, who also adopted Melissa’s younger brother Jonathan, were both involved in the entertainment industry. Paul was a stand-up comic, actor, and dancer with a rich background in performance arts, while Barbara was a young actress. Their marriage ended when Melissa was six, but she fondly remembered her father as “the most incredibly talented, vivacious, funny, loving, fair person I ever knew.”

Discovering the Truth

In 1976, Paul passed away, and for many years, Melissa believed he had died from a stroke while sleeping. However, in her memoir, Prairie Tale: A Memoir, Melissa later uncovered that her father had actually died by suicide due to severe health issues. This revelation came when Melissa was 45 years old, and she worked through the emotional impact of this truth. Despite the pain, Melissa has used her experience to advocate for mental health awareness and support.

As a child, Melissa was told that her birth mother, Kathy Wood, was a prima ballerina and her father, David Darlington, was a Rhodes Scholar. However, as an adult, she learned that Kathy was a dancer but not a prima ballerina, and David worked as a sign painter and stock car racer.

Kathy and David had been previously married to other people and had six children between them before making the difficult decision to give Melissa up for adoption.

Unveiling Family Secrets

Melissa’s godmother, Mitzi, later revealed to her that Barbara and Paul had not initially planned to adopt a child. The opportunity came unexpectedly, and they made the decision to adopt Melissa on a whim.

Continue reading on next page…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *