The couple dated for six years and were even engaged for a short while.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 23, 2022. It has since been updated.
Little House on the Prairie was an American Western historical series that was popular during the 1970s. For nine long years, actress Melissa Gilbert played the farmer's daughter Laura Ingalls wearing braids and a bonnet on-screen. However, behind the screen, the young girl struggled with the Hollywood lifestyle, addictions, and heartbreaks, like most actors in the industry.
The actress was just 17 years old when she started dating Rob Lowe when both of them were teenagers. Sparks flew right when they met. “I fell instantly, hopelessly and stupidly in love. We went from first date to instant couple. I felt like I was starving for Rob,” wrote the actress in her 2009 memoir Prairie Tale: A Memoir. The book details Gilbert's life after the show and the emotional rollercoaster ride she was on after falling in love with Lowe, who was a member of the 'Brat Pack' a group of young actors known to be cast together in multiple teen movies at the time, as per Today.
Throughout the couple's relationship, there were rumors of infidelity. Lowe later admitted to having an affair with actress Nastassja Kinski, reported Vanity Fair. Gilbert confronted Lowe at the hotel where he was staying with Nastasja, she wrote in her book. "Rob turned toward me, shocked by the sound of my voice. I saw the blood drain from his face, then his arms, and then his hands as he turned white,” she wrote.
She continued that Lowe called her by some pet name "Mouse, Bunny, Baby Girl, I don’t remember which. And (he) ran toward me, enveloping me in his arms and pushing me into a corner where he smothered me with affection, and at the same time hid me from the view of his castmates.” Even though Lowe denied his affair initially, he finally gave up and admitted the betrayal. He even cheated on Gilbert with Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, as per Today. However, it was a fling that didn't last long, and soon, Lowe was back with Gilbert.
The actress wasn't innocent either, but Gilbert says her betrayal was to make Lowe realize how she felt when the actor broke her heart. At one point, the actress cheated on Lowe with Tom Cruise. Soon, the couple overcame their temptations and the two were together for a long time. Lowe proposed to Gilbert in 1986. However, this time again, their time together came to a sudden halt after the actress discovered that she was pregnant with Lowe's baby. This phase in the couple's life made Lowe realize that he wasn't ready to make such a long-term commitment. The couple broke up while Gilbert was still pregnant, and the actress suffered a painful loss in the aftermath. She suffered a miscarriage and lost her baby. “I had lost my baby and my relationship with Rob … and it hurt like hell,” the actress wrote in her memoir.
Talking to Today's Erin Burnett, Gilbert admitted that both she and Lowe were very young. “We broke up. It ran its course. I think we were just too young. It was very, very painful. 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.”
The actress went on to marry actor Bo Brinkman after her breakup from Lowe but their relationship was fueled by rumors of infidelities and alcohol abuse. After the birth of their son, Dakota, 31, the couple got a divorce. Even after her divorce and then marriage to her current husband, actor Bruce Boxleitner, Gilbert found herself drinking two bottles of wine by herself every night. After realizing what her life was turning into, she chose the path of sobriety.
The actress admits that her personal life was quite tumultuous and she sometimes wishes she had "Laura’s life the way I played her,” she doesn't regret her life decisions. “Everything, no matter how painful, led me to this place I am right now, which is really an amazing place to be. I have a really peaceful, happy life. I have these great, confident kids. I’m married to a man I’m absolutely crazy about, who cherishes me. It’s a real gift.”
Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Robert Mora and (R) Ryan Pierse