Actress Melissa Gilbert of “Little House on the Prairie” TV fame has announced Monday she is going to take a stab at joining the distinguished group of actors such as Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to enter politics. Even Sonny Bono and Fred Gandy were successful in their political elections, so why not Gilbert, aka Laura Ingalls Wilder?
Gilbert said she will be a Democratic candidate for a congressional seat against first-term Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan’s 8th District.
“I’m running for Congress to make life a little easier for all the families who feel they have fallen through the cracks in today’s economy,” Gilbert said in a statement posted on her website. “I believe building a new economy is a team effort, and we need to bring fresh voices to the table to get the job done.”
Gilbert, 51, who has been married to native Michigan actor Timothy Busfield since 2013, hopes to unseat Bishop after he won his seat last year against Democratic candidate Eric Schertzing. The community has been represented by a Republican for many years. Busfield is famous for his role in the television series “thirtysomething” and his reoccurring role as Arnold Poindexter in the Revenge of the Nerd movies.
This summer, according to the local newspaper, the Daily Press & Argus, the IRS filed a lien against Gilbert, indicating she may owe more than $360,000 in back taxes. Stu Standler, her opponent’s campaign spokesperson, state the actress “can afford to have a stylist for her dog, but cannot pay her taxes. Her values are out of whack with the district.”
“The truth is I got caught in a perfect storm of financial difficulty, which is why I initiated a conversation with the IRS, told them I was having trouble and together we set up a payment plan,” Gilbert told the Free Press.
The actress, who had her breast implants surgically removed in January, admitted to fighting alcoholism and drug abuse in her 2009 biography. Gilbert has also been married to Bo Brinkman, a cousin to actors Randy and Dennis Quaid, from 1988 to 1992. She married actor Bruce Boxleitner in 1995 and divorced in 2011.
Gilbert made Hollywood gossip headlines during and after her “Little House on the Prairie” days by dating such actors and celebrities as Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Billy Idol, John Cusack, and Scott Baio. She received a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star for her television contributions with Lowe by her side.
More recently Gilbert was chosen as a celebrity contestant on the 14th television season of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2012. During the fourth week she suffered a mild concussion falling while dancing with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy and was taken to a hospital. She continued the competition but was eliminated in week eight, coming in fifth place overall.
In 2001, Gilbert beat out Valerie Harper of “Rhoda” TV fame and was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild. Two years later she fought against actor Kent McCord to keep her position.
Busfield and Gilbert live in Howell, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. The 8th District includes Livingston and Ingham counties, and parts of Oakland county and includes East Lansing and a portion of Lansing.