Entertainment

Melissa Gilbert + Timothy Busfield's Love Story Began In An Unexpected Place

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Actress Melissa Gilbert and her husband Timothy Busfield are proof that sometimes, third time's a charm. Even though it might not work out the first or second time around, Mr. Right could be right around the corner where you least expect to meet him. At least that was the case for Gilbert. 

While the former child star is best known for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on the beloved NBC series Little House On The Prairie, her husband is also a performer, recognizable for his Emmy Award-winning role of Elliot Weston in the ABC series thirtysomething, Kevin Costner's brother in law in Field of Dreams, goofy nerd Arnold Poindexter in Revenge of the Nerds and Allison Janney's love interest, Danny Concannon, on The West Wing.

He's also appeared in numerous other projects, including First Kid, Sleepy Hollow, Family Ties and Designated Survivor, and is currently starring in the legal drama series For Life on ABC. Outside of acting, Busfield has had a successful directing career, working on numerous television series over the years, including Without a Trace, Sports Night, Las Vegas, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Lipstick Jungle, Dolly Parton's Heartstrings, This Is Us, The Rookie and The Fosters. As if that wasn't enough, he recently directed longtime pal Jeff Daniels in the indie film Guest Artist, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2019.

Similar to Gilbert, who loves theater and played Ma Ingalls in a musical adaptation of Little House on the Prairie, Busfield has had a prominent theater career. He appeared on Broadway in A Few Good Men (by Aaron Sorkin) and Brighton Beach Memoirs. He even founded the non-profit children's theatre Fantasy Theatre and the B Street Theatre in Sacramento. Essentially, they were both incredibly settled in their careers when they finally crossed paths later in life.

By the time Gilbert met Tim Busfield, she was already twice divorced, with two children from her previous relationships -- Dakota Paul Brinkman and Michael Garrett Boxleitner. Busfield was also twice divorced with three children from his marriages to Radha Delamarter and fashion designer Jennifer Merwin. The couple didn't meet on a film set or through mutual connections in Los Angeles or Hollywood as one might expect. They actually met at a random bar. 

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"I was just going out to get a slice of pizza and a beer and watch sports on TV, and I knew just the spot that would be empty," Busfield explained to M Live.

 " ... So I walked in the front door, and there was one person, sitting in my chair, at the bar. I looked, and then I stepped back outside. It was like when Indiana Jones sees snakes in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and says, 'Why does it have to be snakes?' Because my first thought was, 'I haven't been on a date in 6 months, I'm just working and not dating, I really don't want to date anyone right now.' So I sort of talked to myself for a moment, and then I went in, sat at the bar, and ordered a drink. Then I saw her smile and I was gone."

Gilbert made sure to clarify she didn't usually sit around in bars by herself. 

"I usually don't just sit in bars alone," she said. "I was out with my gay best friend. ... This bar we were going to go to was closed, so we moved on and decided, well, let's sit in this place until the other place is open and then we'll go dancing. But he'd left his cell phone at my place, so while he went back to get it, I was alone, talking to Joe the bartender."

After getting brunch together the next morning, they knew they had found something special and were inseparable. The couple was married in 2013 at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California. They decided to build a life together in Howell, Michigan. Busfield was a native of nearby Lansing, but the couple thought that Howell would be a great place to settle down and open up a theater company together. During their time there, Busfield even served as an artist in residence at Michigan State University. 

The two actors moved to New York City together in 2018 and currently reside in upstate New York. In an interview with Parade, Gilbert said that one of her favorite things is working with her husband who still keeps busy acting, directing, and working as an executive producer. 

"I'm married to an incredibly creative man, who manages to continually create jobs for me. My favorite thing in the world to do is work together."

Apparently, that really is the case because the couple even started a podcast together this year, "Gilbert & Busfield." Could they get any cuter?

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Melissa Gilbert + Timothy Busfield's Love Story Began In An Unexpected Place