Why ‘Little House on the Prairie’s’ Melissa Gilbert Said Nancy Reagan Made Her ‘Uncomfortable’

Little House on the Prairie’s Melissa Gilbert got the opportunity to work with First Lady Nancy Reagan on the “Just Say No To Drugs” awareness campaign. Gilbert was selected as the youth spokesperson for her ACTION drug prevention program, and she got to visit the First Lady in the White House to discuss the campaign.

To her surprise, Reagan got extremely candid with Gilbert about personal matters. It ended up making the Prairie actor feel “uncomfortable.”

First Lady Nancy Reagan at work in the White House
First Lady Nancy Reagan at work in the White House | Dirck Halstead/Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert worked on Nancy Reagan’s campaign

According to the Little House on the Prairie actor, she had been selected to travel around the country with the First Lady so that she could talk to large groups of people about the “evils of drug use.” 

Melissa Gilbert Portrait
Melissa Gilbert poses for a portrait in 1987 | Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Gilbert was personally invited to the White House with her mother to talk with Mrs. Reagan about the “Just Say No To Drugs” campaign. 

Yet as it turns out, their conversation with The First Lady quickly steered away from the campaign. Instead, their discussion became intensely personal, and, well… uncomfortable.

Nancy Reagan started sobbing in front of the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ star

Nancy Reagan crying
Nancy Reagan crying | Sahm Doherty/Getty Images

In Gilbert’s memoir, she says that she was escorted into the White House and led into a yellow floral themed room. The First Lady sat with Gilbert and her mother over tea and cookies to discuss the anti-drug campaign. Yet slowly but surely, Gilbert felt “the mood in the room change.” 

All at once, things went from formal to personal.

“Mrs. Regan started to talk about her life at the White House and how she thought people had misjudged her, and she said it was not just unfair but hurtful,” Gilbert writes. “My mother sympathized with her, noting Mrs. Reagan had been through so much since her husband had taken office.” Her mother then mentioned the assassination attempt on the president. “Prompted by that comment, Mrs. Reagan started talking about the day her Ronnie was shot,” writes Gilbert. “As she shared details, she began to cry, which made me uncomfortable. Then her tears turned into a full-on sob. My mom scooted over on the couch and put her arms around her.” 

She continues, adding how unusual the situation was. “The first lady of the United States was weeping into my mother’s arms,” she says. 

Melissa Gilbert started using drugs to cope during her relationship with Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert dine at Elaine's Restaurant
Rob Lowe and actress Melissa Gilbert in 1987 | Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Recalls the ‘Trauma’ She Experienced on Set

Ironically, Gilbert began to rely on drugs for a short period while in a relationship with Rob Lowe. The two dated on and over for six years. Although she truly loved him, she was uncomfortable with all the female attention he’d receive. 

Because of this, she began to take drugs whenever they’d go out together. According to Gilbert, they helped her cope. “It was like stepping into a new, more confident, more gregarious skin,” she writes. “I immediately set out to find the best, most discreet dealers I could. From then on, when Rob and I went to a party or a premiere, I’d do a bump, grab a drink, light a cigarette, bid goodbye to the image I had of myself as the dorky girl.”