Melissa Gilbert on What It Was Really Like Hanging Out With the Brat Pack—’I Was Suddenly Part of a Fraternity’

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe got together when they were 17, about a year before Lowe’s career blew up after appearing in The Outsiders. When they were together, Gilbert spent a lot of time with Lowe’s friends. In her memoir, Prairie Tale, Gilbert writes about what it was like hanging out with the infamous group of actors.

Rob Lowe, Melissa Gilbert, Michelle Meyrink and Tom Cruise
Rob Lowe, Melissa Gilbert, Michelle Meyrink and Tom Cruise | Fotos International/Getty Images

The Brat Pack

The Brat Pack is a group of young actors who frequently appeared in coming-of-age films together in the ’80s. The main group includes Molly Ringwald, Lowe, Estevez, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, and Ally Sheedy. But other teen actors moved in and out, including Cruise. The name was inspired by the Rat Pack, a group of stars in the 1960s, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.

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Gilbert writes that, before her ex-boyfriend’s friends were ever labeled the Brat Pack, they were just “a raucous, carefree boys’ club.”

“Rob was the troublemaker; Emilio was the cruise director; and Tom was the one who’d say, ‘Guys, I don’t know if this is such a great idea,'” she wrote.

‘The mischief’ Melissa Gilbert and the Brat Pack got into

Gilbert describes the antics she and the Brat Pack got into as “harmless.”

“We stayed up too late, watched TV, and on one particularly fun night, someone made pot brownies,” she wrote. “… We watched tapes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and laughed hysterically until we fell asleep on top of one another, like little puppies. It was innocent, just a bunch of kids having fun, nothing weird or sexual at all. I woke up with sore abs from laughing so hard.”

Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert
Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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The group also “made silly home movies” together. One of their projects was a “hybrid of Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of and Scooby-Doo.”

“We shot it in the Sheens’ backyard,” she wrote, “and it was about a mysterious monster called ‘La Pelou,’ a name improvised by Charlie Sheen.”

Hanging out with the Brat Pack felt like being in college

Having grown up a child actor, Gilbert had never had many friends her own age. But hanging out with Lowe and his friends felt “as if we were a bunch of friends at college.”

“In a way, this was our college,” she wrote. “We did the same things as our friends who were in school.”

Additionally, according to Factinate, Gilbert says the group was highly supportive of each other.

“We went to each other’s birthday parties, premieres, everywhere.”