Fans of classic TV know them as advertising man Elliot Weston and frontierswoman Laura Ingalls Wilder, but soon, they’ll be known as husband and wife for real.
Emmy winner Timothy Busfield (“thirtysomething”) and Melissa Gilbert (“Little House on the Prairie”) had been longtime friends, and during the past holiday season, they became something else: engaged. Though the veteran actors haven’t set the wedding date yet, Busfield says they’re in a state of extreme happiness.
“We’d always had a bit of a spark going,” he tells Zap2it. “I’d been single for five years and she’d been single for a few years, and we ran into each other again and there was still that spark. And we haven’t spent a day apart since, unless there was work and I had to be out of town.
“We fell in love with each other, and we’re having a fantastic time,” Busfield adds. “It’s just a really great, even relationship … one of those relationships where you feel like you’ve been there many times before, and you’re just picking up where you left off.”
Busfield appreciates that the general reaction to the couple’s new status has been respectful. “I feel that I’m of no news and she’s an icon,” he muses, “so it sort of balances nicely. One of the great things is that with all our years in the business, we’ve both been through the wringer and back.
“No matter what anybody’s perspective would be on your deepest personal experiences, it’s always wrong. It’s like the game Telephone. We don’t pay much attention to the negative, but of course, we always want to hear the positive. You’ve just gotta move forward and take the bad with the good.”
With marital plans in mind, Busfield also is staying busy professionally, on both sides of the camera. Guest-starring soon on NBC’s “Revolution,” he invokes some of his past as a political reporter on “The West Wing” in playing a U.S. senator whose son is caught in a school scandal in the new Lifetime movie “Restless Virgins” Saturday, March 9.
Lifetime also is employing Busfield as a director, reuniting him with Jennifer Love Hewitt — who played his daughter on ABC’s “The Byrds of Paradise” almost 20 years ago — to guide her through a Season 2 episode of her current series “The Client List,” which returns Sunday, March 10.
“She’s eager for direction and for figuring out fun ways to help scenes play,” Busfield says of Hewitt, also a “Client List” executive producer who worked with him on the show last year. “So much of her job is to make something come off the page in a way that the audience will get the most out of it.”