Rob Lowe Once Said His Relationship With Melissa Gilbert Was ‘as Serious’ as They Could ‘Make It’

Melissa Gilbert rose to fame for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little House on the Prairie, and Rob Lowe got his start on A New Kind of Family before making a name for himself in movies like The Outsiders. The two actors met as teenagers and dated throughout the 1980s.

In an interview with guest host Joan Rivers on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984, Lowe discussed his relationship with Gilbert at length.

Melissa Gilbert Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Rob Lowe on his relationship with Melissa Gilbert

On The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Rivers brought up that she was friends with Gilbert and had recently seen Lowe out with a woman who was not Gilbert.

“You know I prepared for this,” Lowe said. “I called and I said ‘Melissa, I ran into Joan Rivers at Spago and I’m going to be doing The Tonight Show and I’m sure she’s going to say something.'”

Rivers asked if the two were truly dating, and Lowe confirmed they were.

“We’ve been going out for two years really,” Lowe said. “It’s as serious as we can make it, cause I really care about her, but the problem is the separation. Cause I’ve been gone for about nine, 10 months out of that. And then she’s gone now.”

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Joan Rivers asked Rob Lowe about infidelity rumors

Throughout Lowe and Gilbert’s relationship, there were rumors of infidelity. On The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Rivers asked Lowe about his alleged affairs and how Gilbert felt about the cheating rumors.

“Well, you know, she’s no saint, OK?” Lowe said of Gilbert. “I mean, you know, there are always things written about people, and you never know if they’re true.”

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert lived at home while dating

At the time of the interview with Rivers, Lowe was 20 years old. He told Rivers that he still lived at home with his family but he had no intention of living with a romantic partner.

“My family’s really supportive, they’re like my best friends. They keep me sane. I still live at home with them,” he said. “It’s lonely, you know, if you’re all by yourself, and I don’t want to live with anybody.”

“Why not?” Rivers asked. “You would think you would want to if you’re in love.”

“The thing is, is once you live with somebody it’s that extra step,” Lowe said. “You might as well be married. There’s that added responsibility to it… I don’t need the responsibility I’m too young.”

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Rivers pointed out that Gilbert also still lived with her family, and she asked how Gilbert and Lowe found ways to get together.

“We go to the beach… Like high school, right?” Lowe joked. “No, our families are very understanding. They’ve come to accept our relationship.”