I’ve got another entry for our ever-growing Pencil Paparazzi file. This one comes from a young man in Ann Arbor by the name of Bryant. Accompanying his drawing of former Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert, was the following note:
“Melissa Gilbert winked at me at the Gandy Dancer. Or maybe she was just blinking. It was lunchtime. She was seated by the windows, casually dressed. I got the sense that she was meeting a friend. Someone told me afterward that she lives in Michigan. Howell, I think. I didn’t get to see what she ate. She was wearing regular shoes. Pumps, I’m pretty sure. I guess you’d call her look “business casual.” She’s the one facing the viewer in the attached drawing. The one with the winking eye.”
While I can’t say for certain that she was winking at this particular fellow, I do know, thanks to a little internet sleuthing, that Gilbert’s third husband, actor Timothy Busfield, was out of town on the day that she was spotted in Ann Arbor. (People share way too much information on Twitter, by the way.) I also discovered why she was likely in Ann Arbor from Howell, where she does apparently live. As best I can figure it, she’d been referred to the University of Michigan Hospital by someone at the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute to have a head and neck MRI done. (Again, it’s absolutely terrifying the amount of personal information people share online these days.) According to information found online, she’s been dealing with back and neck issues since she was playing the role of Caroline “Ma” Ingalls several years ago in a musical version of Little House on the Prairie that toured the country. It would appear that she discovered, at some point during the show’s run, that she’d been performing with a broken back. While she had vertebra in her lower spine fused in 2010, as well as disk replacement surgery, it would appear that she’s still in pain.
A NOTE TO OUR READERS: Remember, if you see someone famous, don’t approach them. Don’t try to attempt smalltalk. Don’t ask them about their various well-publicized affairs and addictions. And, for god’s sake, don’t take photos. If you do, you my might spook them. And it might be the last thing that you ever do. No, just set up your easel a respectful distance away, and commence drawing.
UPDATE: Melissa Gilbert left a response in the comments section. Here’s what she had to say.
Love the artist’s rendition of my lunch at Gandy Dancer. I don’t remember winking at anyone, but I do remember being so joyful. You see, the woman I was dining with is a dear friend, and her only child has a very aggressive form of cancer. We were celebrating because we’d just gotten the news that, after her first round of chemo, Lauryn’s tumors had shrunken enough to operate and remove them.
She still has a long road to go, but, blessedly, it’s the right road.
As for my wardrobbe, I wasn’t wearing pumps. I’m new to Michigan, but not crazy! I was wearing lace-up Sorrell boots with wedged rubber soles. The rest of my outfit – wool tights, black mini skirt and beige sweater – were all pretty pedestrian… except for my red patent leather Chanel bag, which I bought resale… and is a knock-off.
The important thing to know here is that a bright, funny, beautiful child who I adore is on the road to recovery from a horrible cancer. And her Mom, my sweet friend, can actually breathe again.
And, yes, she sounds pretty awesome, and I feel bad now for including the links about her new husband’s legal issues… For what it’s worth, I’m writing to her now and begging for her forgiveness. (She’s not the kind of woman you want for an enemy.)