• Born on 28th April 1967 in California, US
• Adopted by Barbara and Paul Gilbert; siblings are Sara and Melissa Gilbert
• Attended Hamilton College and Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College
• Acting career from 1974-1984, most notably in the series "Little House on the Prairie"
• Retired early to pursue a career in business and is now a stockbroker
• Estimated net worth of $2 million

Known for movies

Short Info

FactAdopted son of Paul Gilbert and Barbara Cowan.

Who is Jonathan Gilbert?

Jonathan J. Gilbert is actually his adopted name, and although under the sign of Cancer on the 28th of April 1967, in Los Angeles, California USA, his birth name isn’t known. Jonathan is a 51-year-old Caucasian actor-turned-stockbroker, perhaps best known to the world for his significant presence on the TV screen as Willie Oleson in the NBC TV series entitled “Little House on the Prairie.” Aside from that, he has had a number of other roles across various films and TV shows over the course of his somewhat lucrative acting career from 1974 to 1984.

Early Life and Education

Although Jonathan is also known for being the brother of Sara Gilbert and Melissa Gilbert, two accomplished names in cinematography, they aren’t blood related – he was adopted by Barbara (nee Crane) and Paul Gilbert, both of whom were also actors. It is unknown what happened to him before he was adopted, as well as what happened to his biological parents and what their identities and professions are. It is known that Jonathan had an interest in acting from his early childhood, inspired by his adoptive family’s professions. As per his education, there’s no confirmed information as to what high school he attended, but upon matriculation he enrolled at Hamilton College, from where he graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Later, he went on to further his education at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, from where he graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree in finance. It’s interesting that Jonathan, unlike most early actors, actually completed his education even after establishing himself in the entertainment industry.


Gilbert’s acting career began when he was only seven years old, when alongside his adopted sister Melissa, he appeared on screen as Willie Oleson in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie” in 1974. He is one of the six actors who appeared in all 140 episodes of the show, from 1974 to 1983, including Katherine MacGregor, Kevin Hagen, Richard Bull and Dabbs Greer, aside from himself and Melissa. Concurrently, he also made his film debut as Jimmy in “The Miracle Worker” in 1979. After the series had ended, he was cast in two out of the three spin-off movies – including “Little House: Look Back to Yesterday” in 1983 and “Little House: The Last Farewell” in 1984. Additionally, he has an archive footage credit as Willie Oleson in “Little House Years.” Even though nine years in a show and three film appearances are more than enough to launch an actor into stardom, Jonathan actually chose to discontinue his blossoming acting career in order to pursue his education. After that, he moved away to New York City to pursue a business career, and as of 2003, he is a known stockbroker.

Love Life

Even though Jonathan was a fairly popular youngster due to his early fame, there is no information about any segment of his love life. He has kept any romantic involvements out of the media’s eye to this day there aren’t even any rumours – and until he chooses otherwise, nothing can be said with certainty on this matter.

Family Tragedy

At some point, Jonathan’s adopted mother Barbara divorced his adopted father Paul, who passed away in 1976, and it can be concluded from Melissa Gilbert’s recounting in her “Prairie Tale” autobiography that the cause of death was suicide, apparently because of being in constant pain from an unspecified condition. Later, Barbara married Harold Abeles, with whom she had a daughter named Sara Abeles, actually born a year after Paul’s death. This incident had an impact on Jonathan, and so he moved away in his early twenties and severed all contact with his adopted family members.

What is Jonathan Gilbert’s Net Worth?

Have you ever wondered how rich Jonathan Gilbert is, as of mid-2018? According to various authoritative sources, it has been estimated that the current total of Jonathan’s accumulated wealth is over $2 million, largely aided by his successes in the entertainment industry and as a stockbroker, As his career continues to develop, the said amount can be expected to increase.

Body Measurements

Concerning the physical attributes of the retired actor, no information is available. His hair is dark brown as well as his eyes, while his body shape is generally described as regular.

Social Media Presence

Due to the major influence of social networks, it is nowadays a regular thing for active actors to nourish a close and active relationship with their fans, for the sake of increasing the popularity of the titles they’re working on, and thus their own net worth. However, it looks like Tony himself doesn’t care much for this celebrity trend, having retired as an actor anyway, so his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts are either non-existent or not publicly accessible.


1Is a stockbroker. [June 2003]
2Older adopted brother of Sara Gilbert.
3Stepson of Warren Cowan.
4Brother-in-law of Bruce Boxleitner.
5Younger stepbrother of Claudia Cowan.
6According to the Chinese calendar, he was born in the Year of the Monkey.
7After leaving acting, Jonathan earned his BA from Hamilton College and an MBA in Finance from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College.
8Adopted son of Paul Gilbert and Barbara Cowan.
9Younger adopted brother of Melissa Gilbert.
10Grandson of Harry Crane.




Little House: The Last Farewell1984TV MovieWillie Oleson
Little House: Look Back to Yesterday1983TV MovieWillie Oleson
Little House on the Prairie1974-1983TV SeriesWillie Oleson
The Miracle Worker1979TV MovieJimmy

Archive Footage

Little House Years1979TV MovieWillie Oleson


Nominated Awards

2008TV Land AwardTV Land AwardsSiblings That Make You Grateful for Your Own Crazy FamilyLittle House on the Prairie (1974)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia


  1. Gary Toussaint Reply

    A very informative article, but it has just one little inaccuracy. April 28th is Taurus not Cancer. I’m an astrologer.

  2. Ghislaine Knighten Reply

    I’m sorry this absolutely can not be the actor who played willie in little house on the prairie! Your eyes dont change from blue to brown after your 18 years old! I can’t believe anyone could possibly think it’s the same person!

    • I said that also. There are too many differences with the one they are saying is him. No way.

  3. Tracy Salsbery Reply

    The adult in that photo is NOT Jonathan Gilbert from Little House on The Prairie!

  4. I agree, the adult in the pictures is NOT Jonathan Gilbert. The eye color is different, his face shape and facial features are very different, his lips are very different.

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