• Jonathan Gilbert was born in Los Angeles, California and adopted by Paul Gilbert and Barbara Crane.
• He graduated from Hamilton College in New York City and received his MBA degree from the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College.
• He made his acting debut when he was seven years old and played Willie Oleson in the NBC drama series “Little House on the Prairie”.
• He married his long-time girlfriend, actress Keren Gilbert, and they had two children.
• Jonathan is estimated to have a net worth of over $2.4 million as of early 2020.



One of the biggest claims is that talent for acting is a skill that one must be born with, maybe even inherit, and that it is extremely difficult to learn. What can then be said about Jonathan Gilbert, an adopted son and sibling in a family of big Hollywood actors, who also became a child actor?

Early life and Education

Jonathan Ross Gilbert was born on 28 April 1967, in Los Angeles, California USA. There is no information about his biological parents, so his ancestry remains unknown. He was adopted by his surrogate parents, Hollywood actors Paul Gilbert and Barbara Crane.

Posted by Jonathan Gilbert (Willie Oleson) on Saturday, January 23, 2016

He has an older sister, Melissa Gilbert, and younger half sister, Sara Gilbert. His adoptee grandfather was Harry Crane, a famous American comedy writer.

When he was still a kid, his adoptive parents divorced, then on his ninth birthday he lost his father, Paul Gilbert. According to Melissa Gilbert’s autobiography entitled “Prairie Tale”, his father didn’t just die but rather committed suicide after a life-long battle with depression and chronic pain. Sometime later, Barbara Crane tied the knot with Harold Abeles. They had a daughter, Sara, who, surprisingly, later on took Gilbert as her last name, despite not being blood related to Paul, who even died several years before she was born.

It isn’t disclosed where Jonathan went to high school, but from Melissa’s autobiography it is known that when he was in his early 20s he moved away to New York, and stayed away from his family for a long time because of his education. He graduated from Hamilton College in New York City, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, then got his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in the field of Finance after graduating Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, also located in New York.

Acting Career

Jonathan made his acting debut when he was just seven years old. He appeared in the critically praised 1974 NBC drama television series “Little House on the Prairie”, playing the role of Willie Oleson.

Jonathan Gilbert

His co-stars were big names such as Michael Landon, Katherine MacGregor, Kevin Hagen, Richard Bull, Dabbs Greer, and even his adoptive sister, Melissa Gilbert. The audience was so surprised with his acting skills that they decided to keep him in the show for almost 10 years, until 1983. This created a big fan base, and brought him into the spotlight at a very young age. In later years he appeared in the television films based on “Little House on the Prairie”, including “Little House and Miracle Worker” in 1979, “Little House: Looking Back to Yesterday” (1983), and “Little House: The Last Farewell” (1984), all the while still playing the character of Willie Oleson. However, after the series ended, he never returned to acting.

He also had a brief appearance in the Paul Aaron’s TV movie “The Miracle Worker” about the hard life of Hellen Keller, the deaf, blind and mute author and lecturer, and her teacher Annie Sullivan, in which Jonathan played the character named Jimmy.


Jonathan Gilbert is having one of the longest marriages so far among American celebrities. He married his long-term girlfriend, actress Keren Gilbert, on 31st August 1996. Keren is an actress, famous for acting in titles such as “Pledge This!” and “Beer League” from 2006, who also specialized in nutrition. The couple welcomed their first child in 2000.

Next to being a Hollywood actress, she went on to work at United Cerebral Palsy, where she was helping prepare meal plans for sick patients. After the birth of their second son, she moved to a Glen Cove pediatrician’s office where she continued counseling. She played in several movies before becoming pregnant again, and that was the moment when she quit her job and opened the “Decision Nutrition” webpage on which she started making dietary plans, and soon started touring and to be a guest on many kitchen shows. It didn’t take a long time before her fame skyrocketed.

‘It was like having a bunch of billboards walking around town,’ Jonathan said about his wife, who he always supported ‘You look great, what are you doing? Oh, it’s my nutritionist in Great Neck.’

Personal Life

Since he retired from acting, Jonathan tries to keep most of his life private, and information about his life comes from his sister’s memoirs. Not much is known about what he does outside of red carpet events. It even isn’t known what gender his children are, or when they were born! In 2003 Jonathan decided to invest his business school knowledge in working as a stock broker connected to the biggest names of the Stock Exchange in New York, where he still lives. Through his wife, Keren, he was also involved in a number of charitable projects.

Posted by Jonathan Gilbert (Willie Oleson) on Friday, April 13, 2012

He also did some work for a theater company located in California, US. Both of his sisters are actresses. Melissa Gilbert is known for roles in movies “Guest Artist” and “Little House: Bless All the Dear Children”, while Sara Gilbert acted in titles such as “Poison Ivy” and “Riding in Cars with Boys”, as well as landing a recurring role of Leslie Winkle in hit television sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory”. Through his older sister’s marriage, he is the brother-in-law to actor and director Timothy Bustfield. His former brothers-in-law were Bruce Boxleitner and Bo Brinkman.

As of March 2020, Jonathan is not active on any social media, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. As stated in Melissa Gilbert’s autobiography, Jonathan isn’t too close to any of his siblings, and they don’t communicate often, as their lives have made them drift apart.

Net Worth

Taking in consideration Jonathan’s plethora of Hollywood appearances, as well as his successful career as a stock broker, his net worth has been estimated at over $2.4 million as of early 2020.

Physical characteristics

Jonathan is a tall and slim Caucasian male whose exact height and weight haven’t been disclosed. His hair is brown and his eyes are dark. As a kid, his hair used to be somewhat longer, but he was always an athletic, somewhat skinny kid.

, Wikipedia

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