‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Once Said She Was ‘Stupidly In Love’ With Rob Lowe

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe dated for several years in the 1980s. The pair began dating when Gilbert was just 17. 

In her 2009 memoir, Prairie Tale, the former child star considered Lowe to be her first long-term relationship. She also shared what drew them to each other. 

Actors Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert.
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert|Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection

How Melissa Gilbert met Rob Lowe

When Gilbert first met Lowe, she was already a teen icon. She had already worked on Little House on the Prairie for eight years, as Laura Ingalls. Lowe was a working actor who hadn’t yet found his big break. Gilbert was in her early teens when Lowe approached her for the first time. 

“I was 14, 15, and I was doing a talk show on the lot. And Rob came running over to introduce himself to me,” Gilbert said in an interview with Access Hollywood. “And he told me years later that he tucked a script under his arm so that I would know that he was a working actor too and not some kid coming up to talk to me.” 

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe
Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe|Barry King/WireImage

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Several years later, Gilbert would see Lowe again. This time, she looked more like her Little House on the Prairie character. However, her appearance apparently didn’t bother Lowe. 

“I was driving home from work, and he pulled up at a stoplight,” she said. “I had my prairie makeup on… my hair was all funky from being in a bun that day. He pulled up, and we started talking and exchanged numbers. That eventually led to us dating…”

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe’s relationship moved fast 

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After they began dating, things between Gilbert and Lowe escalated quickly. Although Gilbert dated her Little House on the Prairie co-star Michael Landon’s son, Michael Jr., she had stronger feelings for Lowe. In her memoir, Gilbert recalled falling hard for Lowe early into their relationship. 

“I fell instantly, hopelessly and stupidly in love,” she wrote. “We went from first date to instant couple. I felt like I was starving for Rob.”

While Gilbert harbored intense romantic feelings for Lowe, she soon faced jealousy as well. Lowe’s career accelerated in 1983 after the premiere of The Outsiders. Gilbert shared in Prairie Tale that her former boyfriend’s newfound fame caused a strain in their romance. She also admitted that Lowe caught the attention of multiple women, causing her to have “strong pangs of jealousy.” 

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert allegedly cheated on each other

Eventually, Lowe and Gilbert couldn’t make their relationship work. As time went on, Lowe became romantically linked to Princess Stephanie and Nastassja Kinski, per Today. Reports also surfaced that Gilbert stepped outside of the relationship with Scott Baio and Tom Cruise. 

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In Prairie Tale, Gilbert opened up about what lead to her breakup with Lowe. She became pregnant shortly after Lowe proposed in 1986. Once she told him the news, Lowe said he couldn’t be a father or a husband, and the couple parted ways. 

“I had lost my baby and my relationship with Rob … and it hurt like hell,” Gilbert wrote.

While reflecting on the relationship on Today, Gilbert said both she and Lowe needed to experience other things. 

“We broke up. It ran its course. I think we were just too young,” she said.