Melissa Gilbert and Sara Gilbert are half-sisters who were raised by the same mother, Barbara Cowan. In 1964, a newborn Melissa was adopted by Barbara and her husband, actor Paul Gilbert, according to PopSugar. Her celebrity father helped her get into the acting business, but Melissa’s parents divorced when she was 8 years old. Sara was born on January 29, 1975 to Barbara and her second husband, Harold Abeles, according to IMDb. When she decided to get into show business, Sara took the Gilbert last name to help her chances.
While the sisters had an 11-year age gap, they had similar paths when it came to childhood stardom. But their later teen years were very different. In her 2009 tell-all, “Prairie Tale: A Memoir,” Melissa revealed that she was unsure about going to college with “Little House” still on the air, noting that she could hear her grandfather, TV writer Harry Crane, saying, “Who leaves a hit show? You have to be a moron to leave a hit show.” While she considered Harvard, Northwestern, and other top schools for her post-high school education, Melissa ultimately bailed on her SATs and skipped college altogether.
Sara, on the other hand, worked with “Roseanne” producers to be away from the hit show so she could study at Yale. In 1997, Sara graduated from the Ivy League school with honors as her TV alter ego went to art school.