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Who are Melissa Gilbert's children? Actress releases brand new memoir

Bruno Cooke May 11, 2022
melissa gilbert children


Little House On The Prairie’s Melissa Gilbert is out with a new memoir – Back To The Prairie is available in stores and online now. What do we know about her family life? Who are Melissa Gilbert’s two children, Dakota and Michael, and how many husbands has she had?

Melissa Gilbert has two biological children

Gilbert gave birth to her first son, Dakota Paul Brinkman, on 1 May 1989. His father is actor Bo Brinkman (of Gettysburg fame) to whom Melissa was married from 1988 to 1992.

Dakota has a smattering of onscreen acting credits: he played Young Evan in Laws Of Deception (1997), Chad MacKenzie in Safe Harbour (2007) and James Schenker in short film Shay (2016).

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Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

He married long-time partner Marissa Higgins (now Marissa Brinkman) on 25 March 2018. They’ve been together for 11 years now, having started dating in 2011.

They have a baby daughter, born 8 June 2021 – Melissa Gilbert’s first grandchild. Ripley will turn one year old this year and frequently features in her mother’s Instagram feed.

Who is the father of Melissa’s second son?

Shortly after she and first husband Bo Brinkman divorced, Melissa Gilbert reconnected with her teenage crush, actor Bruce Boxleitner, with whom she had worked on Battle Of The Network Stars.

They were on-again-off-again for a while but married on 1 January 1995 in Melissa’s mother’s living room – Gilbert gave birth to her second son, Michael Garrett Boxleitner (pictured above), later that year.

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Photo by Derek Storm/FilmMagic

Melissa named Michael Garrett after fellow Little House On The Prairie star Michael Landon (who died in 1991) and Garrett Peckinpah – her friend Sandy’s late son – who died of meningitis at age 16.

In 2011, Gilbert announced she and Boxleitner had separated. She filed for divorce on 22 August that year.

Melissa Gilbert has also been a stepmother to four children

During her marriage to Bruce Boxleitner, Melissa Gilbert was stepmother to his two sons, Sam (born 1980) and Lee (1985).

In 2013, Gilbert married for the third time. Her current husband is actor Timothy Busfield; they married on 24 April 2013 and moved to New York in summer 2018.

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Rich in Bollywood | Official Trailer | Prime Video

Rich in Bollywood | Official Trailer | Prime Video

Since Timothy Busfield has three children of his own, Melissa Gilbert is once again a stepmother.

Busfield has one son from his marriage to first wife Radha Delamarter (they divorced in 1986), and two from his second marriage, to fashion designer Jennifer Merwin. They are Willy, Daisy and Samuel respectively.

Melissa’s new memoir – Back To The Prairie: A Home Remade, A Life Discovered – came out yesterday (10 May 2022) on hardback. Fox News interviewed the 58-year-old actress, director, producer and politician following its publication – read the conversation here.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or