Early life and career
Sara was born Sara Rebecca Abeles in Santa Monica, California. Her parents are Barbara Crane (née Cowan) and Harold Abeles. Her two older siblings, Melissa Gilbert and Jonathan Gilbert, were stars of Little House on the Prairie. Melissa and Jonathan both were adopted by Barbara and her first husband, Paul Gilbert; Paul died in 1975. Abeles changed her surname to Gilbert to become an actress in 1984.
Gilbert decided at age six that she wanted to be an actress after her older sister, Melissa Gilbert, got a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Following appearances in television movies and a commercial for Kool Aid, at thirteen she landed the role of Darlene Conner, the sarcastic middle child, in Roseanne. Sara was a cast member in the show's nine-year run from 1988 to 1997, for which she wrote a fourth-season episode story (the teleplay was written by the Guild Writers for the show) called "Don't Make Me Over". Her contribution was considered so important to Roseanne that the show's producers juggled storylines and taping schedules to allow her to study at Yale University while remaining in the cast, shooting remote segments of Darlene at a soundstage in New York.
At Yale, she majored in art with an emphasis on photography; she graduated with honors in 1997.
Gilbert has appeared on The Simpsons, 24, Will & Grace, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Private Practice. Starting in 2004, she had a recurring role as medical student Jane Figler on the long-running hospital drama ER. She returned to prime time television in the fall of 2005 in the sitcom Twins on The WB network. The sitcom was canceled after one season, when the WB and UPN networks merged as The CW and dropped a number of shows. She also had a recurring role on the short-lived CBS sitcom The Class as Fern Velch.
Since 2007, Sara has appeared in episodes of the CBS TV series The Big Bang Theory as Leslie Winkle, a scientist friend of Leonard Hofstadter played by Johnny Galecki, who had previously played Gilbert's love interest David Healy on Roseanne. In the second episode of the second season of The Big Bang Theory, Gilbert was elevated to the show's main cast, portraying again a potential love interest of Galecki's character, and at one point a love interest to Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). By January 2009, it was announced that the writers did not know how to write for her character full-time and her status was reduced from regular to recurring. Gilbert is a co-host and executive producer of The Talk, a talk show that premiered October 18, 2010. Gilbert appears alongside Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Tyler.
In 2018, she will reprise her role as Darlene Connor in the Roseanne nine episode Season 10 revival.
- Daughter of Barbara Cowan and Harold Abeles.
- Granddaughter of Julia and Harry Crane.
- Is the younger half-sister of Melissa Gilbert & Jonathan Gilbert and the stepsister of Claudia Cowan.
- Has two children with ex-girlfriend Allison Adler: son Levi Hank Gilbert Adler (born in October 2004) and daughter Sawyer Jane Gilbert-Adler (born on August 2, 2007).
- Married Linda Perry on March 30, 2014 and is expecting her first child with Linda.
- Attended Yale where she majored in art with an emphasis on photography. She graduated in 1997 with honors.