Melissa Gilbert Admitted to Cheating on Rob Lowe While Filming Flop Movie ‘Sylvester’

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe dated for several years in the ’80s before getting engaged (but broke up before ever getting married). A couple of years into their relationship, both actors began cheating on one another. According to the Little House on the Prairie actor, her ex started it by having an affair with his The Hotel New Hampshire co-star, Nastassja Kinski. Not too long after, “I got a taste of what Rob went through on The Hotel New Hampshire, and he got a taste of what I experienced on the other end,” wrote Gilbert in her memoir, Prairie Tale.

Melissa Gilbert and Michael Schoeffling pose in a scene from the movie "Sylvester"
Melissa Gilbert and Michael Schoeffling | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert on the set of ‘Sylvester’

Sylvester is a coming-of-age story about a young Texas wrangler who takes a rodeo horse to the Olympic trials in Kentucky. The film was directed by Tim Hunter and came out in 1985. It did not receive rave reviews.

Sylvester shot in Marfa, but the cast stayed in Alpine, Texas, where there was “one streetlight and one motel.” The filming process was a difficult one for Gilbert. Right away, she learned that Hunter was not a fan of hers.

“As soon as I arrived in Marfa, I started to butt heads with Tim Hunter,” wrote Gilbert.

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As it turns out, Hunter wasn’t the only one on the set of Sylvester who had it out for Gilbert.

“It seemed to me that I could never do enough to please Tim, and on top of that, my horse hated me,” wrote Gilbert. “As much as the director didn’t want me in the movie, my horse wanted to be in it less.” 

Melissa Gilbert cheated on Rob Lowe with the ‘Sylvester’ third AD

Gilbert had wanted Lowe to come with her to Marfa, but he couldn’t because he was learning to play hockey for his upcoming film, Youngblood.

So the Little House on the Prairie actor began an on-set romance with the third AD, Frank Capra III, who she called FC3.

“Though it wasn’t intentional, I got a taste of what Rob went through on The Hotel New Hampshire, and he got a taste of what I experienced on the other end,” wrote Gilbert. “He would call and I wouldn’t be in my room.”

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe
Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

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Lowe “sensed the distance” Gilbert put between them as she spent more and more time with Capra. He wrote her a letter warning her that “what [she] was doing was dangerous” to their relationship.

But the letter “didn’t deter” her.

“I was lonely, scared, and by myself, which was, I discovered, not a good place for me,” she wrote. “I didn’t do alone well. Performing stunts, risking my safety, knowing the director disliked me, and just living every day on the edge got to me, and I spiraled downward quickly. I had no clue how needy I was, how I needed a man to fill me up.”

When Rob Lowe confronted Melissa Gilbert about cheating on him

Eventually, the filming location of Sylvester moved from Marfa to Lexington, where Lowe could easily visit the set. So Gilbert ended her romance with FC3.

“I left as soon as filming ended and joined Rob in Toronto, where we argued and nitpicked at each other until he confronted me about my behavior in Marfa,” wrote Gilbert. “Sobbing, I confessed, apologized, and begged his forgiveness. He also apologized for not having been available to me when I needed him.”