Melissa Gilbert’s First Husband Bo Brinkman Didn’t Show up To Her Baby Shower Because ‘He Had Gone on a Bender’

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert married playwright Bo Brinkman in 1988 after knowing him for six weeks. Not too long after the ceremony, Gilbert became pregnant. The actor enjoyed her pregnancy, mostly. But there was one point in those nine months that “humiliated and embarrassed” her. And that was the baby shower her mother threw her.

Melissa Gilbert and her first husband, Bo Brinkman, in black and white. His arm is around her and her hand is on his chest.
Melissa Gilbert and Bo Brinkman | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

How Melissa Gilbert met her first husband, Bo Brinkman

Gilbert and Brinkman were introduced by a mutual friend. The first night they met, at a restaurant/bar, Brinkman punched a man in the face for saying something “rude” about Gilbert. Though he was living with a girlfriend at the time, he and Gilbert quickly started dating after their first meeting. Six weeks later, he asked her to marry him and she said yes. The couple had a small, secret wedding at city hall.

Melissa Gilbert’s first baby shower

In her memoir, Prairie Tale, Gilbert writes that she wanted to be a mother since she was 3 years old. She was ecstatic when she learned she and Brinkman had conceived. And she thoroughly enjoyed the “miracle” of pregnancy as it happened to her.

Gilbert’s mother threw her a baby shower in Los Angeles to celebrate.

“With practically every woman in my life there, from my grandmother to my second-grade teacher, it should have been a high point,” she wrote.

But Brinkman, who was supposed to videotape the party, never showed up.

“He disappeared without telling me where he was going, let alone that he had gone,” she wrote. “I felt humiliated and embarrassed in front of all my friends and family.”

Melissa Gilbert finally located her husband

Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert at the "Full Moon in Blue Water" Premiere
Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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Gilbert eventually tracked Brinkman down at his friend’s house.

“He had gone on a bender,” she wrote. And she let the guests of her baby shower know.

“The next time my mother asked me about his whereabouts, something she had done repeatedly through the party, I thought the hell with it, and told her and everyone at the shower exactly why my husband wasn’t there,” she wrote. “There were gasps.”

Melissa Gilbert and Bo Brinkman made up on the train ride home

When Brinkman finally showed up later that night, the couple “had a huge fight.”

“At the end, he vowed to never do anything like that again,” she wrote. “We took the train back to New York and were able to do a lot of healing and reconnecting during the cross-country trip.”

But Gilbert and Brinkman continued to have a difficult marriage “fueled by alcohol, insecurity, and the unfamiliarity of two people who barely knew each other trying to merge their lives and work.” They divorced in 1994.