Melissa Gilbert Says Rob Lowe Had a Plan To Impress Her When They Met

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe dated throughout the 1980s. The two first began dating when Gilbert was 17 years old. Lowe proposed to Gilbert in 1986, and the former couple broke up a year later. 

While Gilbert and Lowe started dating when Gilbert was 17 years old, they actually met a few years earlier. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Gilbert revealed how Lowe went out of his way to impress her. 

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

Melissa Gilbert fell in love with Rob Lowe

From 1974 to 1983, Gilbert starred as Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie. In 2009, Gilbert published Prairie Tale: A Memoir. In the memoir, she described her life after the show and her experience falling for Lowe. 

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

Rob Lowe tried to impress Melissa Gilbert

On Aug. 26, Access Hollywood released an interview with Gilbert. In the interview, Gilbert described the first time she met Lowe. 

“I was 14, 15, and I was doing a talk show on the lot. And Rob came running over to introduce himself to me, 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,” Gilbert said. 

She added, “It worked.”

A few years after Lowe’s subtle move to impress Gilbert, the two reconnected. 

“I was driving home from work, and he pulled up at a stoplight,” Gilbert 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…”

She understands why they broke up

While Gilbert and Lowe’s young romance captivated fans, it was tumultuous behind closed doors. After Gilbert accepted Lowe’s proposal, she discovered she was pregnant. This made Lowe realize he was not ready to get married or be a father. 

The two broke up, and Gilbert later suffered a miscarriage. While this was incredibly difficult for Gilbert at the time, she understands why Lowe felt the way he did. 


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“It was very, very painful. It was a very dark and difficult time for me… Now that I have children that are his age — my older boys are 28 and 23, the age he was when we were together — I understand it. But at the time it was devastating,” Gilbert said in a 2009 interview with Erin Burnett on Today

Looking back, the actress thinks the relationship ended simply because of her and Lowe’s young age. 

“We broke up. It ran its course. I think we were just too young,” Gilbert told Burnett.