A Look at Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe’s Messy First Breakup and How They Got Back Together

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe started dating when they were 17. Gilbert was incredibly well-known thanks to her role in Little House on the Prairie and Lowe was still at the beginning of his career. But when the A New Kind of Family actor started to experience a real taste of fame, their relationship changed, according to Gilbert. Here’s why the star-studded ’80s Hollywood couple broke up the first time.

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe
Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Rob Lowe cheated on Melissa Gilbert with his co-star, Nastassja Kinski

Lowe starred in The Hotel New Hampshire in 1984. Right away, he and his co-star, Nastassja Kinski, had chemistry. From the first day of filming, Gilbert was concerned about what would come of their relationship. As it turns out, the Little House on the Prairie actor was right to be suspicious.

Nastasska Kinski
Nastasska Kinski | Schweigmann/United Archives via Getty Images

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The movie filmed in Montreal, Canada. On one of the many instances that Gilbert attempted to get a hold of Lowe via his hotel telephone, the hotel operator picked up and told Gilbert that her boyfriend just requested a wake-up call from “Miss Kinski’s room,” according to Gilbert’s memoir, Prairie Tale. So she flew to Montreal to confront Lowe and tell him: “You don’t f*ck with America’s sweetheart.”

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe’s first breakup

By the time Gilbert arrived back in LA, she “was in agony.” Her friend Kate Franklin picked her up from the airport and took her straight to Jack in the Box. Between bites of a Chicken Supreme sandwich, she wailed: “Why? Why did he do it? What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t he love me?”

“For days I called rob incessantly and hung up as soon as I heard his voice,” wrote Gilbert. “I called her room, too.”

How Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe got back together

When Lowe finally returned to LA from filming, Gilbert was “mad” — “I had gone from crushed to perplexed to f*cking pissed.”

Lowe repeatedly tried to get Gilbert to talk to him and she repeatedly denied him, telling him that he’d “ruined [her] life.” But, eventually, he convinced her to give him a chance.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“Once we were face-to-face, we talked and yelled and cried,” wrote Gilbert. “He let me get everything out of my system, and then like two comets colliding, we kind of exploded in each other’s arms. When all was said and done, after something like fourteen or fifteen hours of crying, screaming, talking, making love, carrying on, and laughing, we got very quiet.”

Gilbert asked Lowe why he did it.

“It’s like when you walk down the beach and you see a beautiful shell in the sand,” he said. “You either pick it up and listen to it. Or you walk by. I had to listen to the shell.”

Gilbert found the explanation ridiculous and they “laughed [their] little a*ses off.”

“Humor was our savior,” wrote Gilbert. “With that, we were back together.”