Bruce Boxleitner Accused Melissa Gilbert of Getting Pregnant to ‘Trap’ Him After They Were Married

When Melissa Gilbert became pregnant with Bruce Boxleitner’s child, they had not been trying. Gilbert was days away from leaving for a three-month shoot abroad. And Boxleitner, initially, didn’t take the news as Gilbert had hoped. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for him to come around.

Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner at the "Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson" Los Angeles screening in 1992.
Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

How Melissa Gilbert realized she was pregnant

Gilbert had just been cast in Danielle Steel’s miniseries, Zoya, a historical romance based on a novel about a Russian ballerina and countess who flees the 1917 revolution for Paris. Boxleitner had been cast as one of Gilbert’s character’s husbands.

Leading up to filming, Gilbert became hyper-focused on her health and physicality. She switched to a mostly vegan diet and trained intensely with an old ballerina teacher of hers. One day when she was dancing in the studio, she felt unusually dizzy. When she got home, she realized her period was late. So she went to the doctor and they confirmed her suspicion.

“I turned white and began to hyperventilate,” she wrote in her 2009 memoir, Prairie Tale. “I had to sit down. I was leaving in a few days for a three-month shoot in Russia and then Paris, London, New York, and Montreal. I would be gone the entire first trimester, playing a ballerina/countess from age seventeen to seventy. It was hard to fathom.”

Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner had not been trying to have a baby

Gilbert was shocked.

“I want to say I was delighted, and I was, but truthfully, I was also mystified,” she wrote. “We weren’t trying, and there were so many barriers in place that either Bruce had supersperm or I had crazy eggs or it was a combination of both.”

Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner in Danielle Steel's 'Zoya'
Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner in Danielle Steel’s ‘Zoya’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Despite her astonishment, the Laura Ingalls actor couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.

“I had a little laugh as I realized Bruce and I would be shooting a scene where my character loses her virginity to his character,” she wrote. “I was going to be playing a virgin while pregnant, whereas years ago on Little House I was a virgin playing a pregnant woman.

How Bruce Boxleitner reacted

Gilbert returned home from the doctor to tell her husband. He responded by saying “No. You’re. Not.”

“I saw that Bruce was on a slow boil and decided to wait it out while he cycled through his emotions, which he was entitled to do,” wrote Gilbert. “First he accused me of getting pregnant to trap him into marrying me. Hilarious! I pointed out, of course, that we were already married. Then he began to pace, muttering to himself.”

Gilbert heard a lot of “Oh my God” and “How am I going to take care of this kid?”

Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner in Danielle Steel's 'Zoya'
Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner in Danielle Steel’s ‘Zoya’ | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank

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But two hours later, Boxleitner approached Gilbert with a new attitude.

“I was sifting through clothes and starting to pack when Bruce came into the bedroom looking very different—almost satisfied with himself,” wrote Gilbert.

“I think it’s time to call our parents,” he told her. “My baby is having a baby.”

“Even with all the preparation in the world, you’re never ready, so I might as well just roll with it,” he added.

So Gilbert and Boxleitner spent the evening alerting their families of the good news. Everyone was thrilled.

“A couple days later, I took off for St. Petersburg, Russia, by myself,” wrote Gilbert. “Well, not by myself. I had someone else growing inside my tummy.”