When Melissa Gilbert Met Warren Beatty He Checked Out Her Butt and Asked When She Was Turning 18

Today, Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert and Bonnie and Clyde‘s Warren Beatty are great friends. But, when they first met in 1982, the Reds actor had other intentions in mind.

Melissa Gilbert in Los Angeles in 1987
Melissa Gilbert | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

How Melissa Gilbert and Warren Beatty met

Gilbert and Beatty met in New York at the taping of the “Night of 100 Stars,” a benefit for the Actors Fund of America. On the day the show was shot, Gilbert helped Brooke Shields collect autographs.

“Brooke dragged me along as she asked Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty for their signature,” wrote Gilbert in her memoir, Prairie Tale. “As a result, Warren sort of locked onto me and we talked for a bit as Brooked bopped around getting more autographs.”

After Gilbert and Beatty spoke for a bit, Shields rushed up to the Little House star and said: “Oh my God! You aren’t going to believe it.”

“What?” asked Gilbert.

“Can’t tell you here,” said Shields, motioning for Gilbert to follow her.

Brooke Shields and Melissa Gilbert in New York in 1982
Brooke Shields and Melissa Gilbert | PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images

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When they were a good distance from the Dick Tracy actor, Shields said: “Warren Beatty was looking at your butt.”

“No way,” responded Gilbert.

“Yes, I swear,” insisted Shields. “I saw him.”

During their conversation, Gilbert remembers Beatty asking her how old she was.

“After I said seventeen, he asked when I was turning eighteen,” wrote Gilbert. “‘Hmmmmmmm…’ And that was the end of the conversation.”

When Warren Beatty asked Melissa Gilbert to lunch

The next day, Gilbert and her mother received a phone call in their hotel room.

“I heard my mother in the other room say, ‘Hello, yes, it is,’ and then ask, ‘Who’s calling, please?'” wrote Gilbert. “There was a pause, and then I heard her say, ‘Yeah, right, and I’m the queen of England. Who is this?'”

It was Warren Beatty.

Before handing her daughter the phone, Gilbert’s mother instructed her: “I want you to say no. Whatever he asks you, no matter what it is, you’re going to say no.”

Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty in 1982
Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty | Sonia Moskowitz/IMAGES/Getty Images

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“I knew damn well who Warren Beatty was,” wrote Gilbert. “I’d watched him in Splendor in the Grass, obviously. I’d marveled at him in Reds, which I considered a masterpiece. I’d drooled over him in Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait; hell, I’d spoken to him the night before. He was gorgeous, brilliant, and iconic. What was this business with no? I gave her a puzzled look.”

But Gilbert obeyed her mother. Beatty asked the Little House star to lunch and she told him she couldn’t because she was getting ready to go to the White House (she was working with Nancy Reagan as the youth spokesperson for her Just Say No drug awareness campaign). Then, he asked when her birthday was and she told him May 8.

“Three months later, I would get a phone call from Warren, who sang ‘Happy Birthday,’ and we began a friendship that continues to this day,” wrote Gilbert.