Dancing With the Stars has featured celebrities on current television shows as well as some classics. In season 14, a Little House on the Prairie alum decided to hit the dance floor for the ABC reality competition. Paired with Maks Chmerkovskiy, the actor apparently considered her partner as having the same fiery ilk as herself.
Melissa Gilbert went from the prairie to the dance floor
Though many Little House loyalists will always see her as “Half-Pint”, Melissa Gilbert ditched her bonnet and prairie skirt for dancing shoes and joined the DWTS competition in season 14. In an essay for People halfway through the season, Gilbert described the searing fatigue she was experiencing several weeks into the show.
“I cannot remember if I’ve ever been this tired in my life,” she wrote in April 2012. “The closest I’ve ever come to this kind of physical exhaustion is when my kids were newborns.”
Though she had been forewarned by those who had danced prior to her stint, Gilbert put on her game face and prepared for the challenge. She even suffered a concussion midway through the competition, yet returned to compete for the Mirrorball trophy.
“My friends who had done Dancing with the Stars before me told me this would be hard,” the Little House alum shared. “They told me that it was a long, arduous process. So did the producers. So did Maks. I was as ready as I could possibly be.”
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Melissa Gilbert shared a ‘fire’ for the dance floor
Though the competition could be grueling at times, Gilbert was grateful to have a partner similar to herself.
“I was thinking about our partnership,” she told Access Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times. “[Chmerkovskiy and I] talked about how some people are opposites, they’re like oil and water, and we were just fire and fire all the time.”
The former NBC star described her dance partner as a mixed bag, with his positives outweighing the negatives.
“Alternately, I want to strangle him or hug him,” Gilbert revealed in People. “Every few minutes of every day. He is brilliant, difficult, smart, funny, charming, petulant, generous to a fault, funny and demanding.”
‘DWTS’ couple had a lot of quality time together
With extensive rehearsals requiring new levels of exertion, Gilbert was surprised at how the process would impact her emotionally. She commented on Chmerkovskiy witnessing the majority of her DWTS evolution.
“What I was not ready for is the emotional toll this experience is taking,” Gilbert remarked. “It seems that every day I am stripped down to my most vulnerable and unguarded self. My emotions are raw and unpredictable. … Maks gets most of my time and has become the person who has to deal with it all the most. We are together more than most couples.”
Their vast quantities of shared space enabled the pair to learn the good and the bad about each other.
“In a very few short weeks we have become very, very close,” Gilbert explained. “So close that we trigger each other daily. Poor Maks is having a recurring nightmare about me. His eye is starting to twitch.”
Finishing the competition in fifth place, Gilbert was eliminated on her birthday yet shared her gratitude for the experience and her dance teacher.
“I can’t even describe what a learning and growing experience this has been,” she said. “It’s been a real blessing and a joy.”