Skip to main content

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert began dating Brat Packer Rob Lowe when she was 17. But they actually met several years before going on their first date. Here’s how Gilbert and Lowe first came to know each other.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

How did Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe meet?

In Gilbert’s memoir, Prairie Tale, the Little House actor wrote about how she and Lowe met for the first time.

“One day I went to CBS to tape a guest appearance on The Dinah Shore Show and fourteen-year-old Rob Lowe made a point of standing in the hallway so he could meet me,” she wrote.

Lowe made sure to have “a script under his arm” so Gilbert would know he was a working actor—”he told me about his prop years later.”

“I found out he’d recently moved to L.A. from Ohio to pursue a career, and he was already on the sitcom A New Kind of Family,” she wrote.

Admittedly, Gilbert recognized him from seeing his picture in the “teen magazines.”

“After a quick chat, I left with the impression that he was cute (actually, he was almost pretty), sweet, and funny—just the kind of guy I could go for if he called me,” she wrote.

However, Lowe never made that call.

When Melissa Gilbert and Robe Lowe started dating

A few years later, when Gilbert was 17, she and Lowe began officially dating.

“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.”

Lowe proposed to Gilbert in 1986. After Gilbert became pregnant (and after rumored infidelity on both sides), Lowe told the Little House actor that he wasn’t ready to be a father or husband and they went their separate ways.

“We broke up. It ran its course. I think we were just too young,” Gilbert told Today in 2009.


‘Little House on the Prairie’: The Cast Member Who Taught Melissa Gilbert About Puberty

Shortly after their breakup, Gilbert had a miscarriage.

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

“It was very, very painful,” she told Today. “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 went on to marry actor Bo Brinkman in 1988, but they divorced in 1994. In 1995, she married actor and writer Bruce Boxleitner, but they divorced in 20011. Today, she is married to actor Timothy Busfield.