Actress Melissa Gilbert leaves Hollywood for Howell, Michigan

Gilbert starred on Little House on the Prairie

HOWELL, Mich. – Melissa Gilbert, actress from Little House on the Prairie, and her husband, Timothy Busfield, who you may remember from 30 Something or West Wing, are building a new life in Howell, Michigan.

Gilbert was known as "half-pint" or Laura Ingalls on the hit television series Little House on the Prairie. She was just nine years old when she began on that show, and now, nearly 40 years later, Gilbert has left Hollywood for Howell.

"This is a dream come true," Gilbert says of the move. "And it's a dream I never really knew I had until I got here and felt that sense of community."

What brought her here? Her husband is an East Lansing native.

"We came here to visit and she fell in love," Busfield said.

In May of 2013, the two stars got married in Los Angeles and spent their honeymoon in Michigan at Busfield's then-home in Holly.

"I felt like I was home," Gilbert said. "I felt comfortable, I felt safe, and the people were just so gentle, especially the people I was with."

It was then that the new couple decided to make Michigan their true home.


"We were having a picnic at the lake here, in Howell and I texted my friend Jeff Daniels and sent him a picture of what we were doing," Busfield said. "And he wrote back and said 'Pure Michigan.'"

But it wasn't just about moving away from the craziness of Los Angeles.

"We didn't come here to retire," Busfield said. "We came here to work. Why not do it in an environment we love? Stories can be told here, Michigan stories."

Added Gilbert: "You can shoot anything here, you can shoot any time, period here."

One of the reasons that the two chose the city of Howell for their Michigan move is the Opera House that is being restored.

"That is one of the things that has attracted us to Howell in the first place," Gilbert said. "It was the potential of creating a theatre company in that space."

Gilbert just finished writing her first children's book, "Daisy and Josephine," a story about a little girl who travels with her father, as he performs, and her French bulldog that she loves to dress up.

"I have to write this book basically for children who don't grow up in your basic nuclear family," Gilbert said. "It's very rare to find that anymore."

If the turnout at her recent book signings is any indication, this Little House on the Prairie star is capturing the hearts of children once again, just like she did back in the 70s.

Web extra video: More from our interview with Gilbert and Busfield