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Bruce Boxleitner Was 'Panic-Stricken' to Wed Melissa Gilbert - She Ruined Their Union 16 Years Later

Titi Dokubo
Apr 01, 2022
01:40 P.M.
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"Little House on the Prairie" actress Melissa Gilbert met her second husband, "How the West Was Won" actor Bruce Boxleitner when she was a fresh divorcee and a single mom with a young son.


Their relationship was one she was not ready for, even though she did not have plans to end up alone. At the time, Melissa Gilbert wanted a series of friends with benefits.

Seeing as she already had a child in her life, Melissa Gilbert was not looking for involvement with anyone. Here are the details about her life and relationship with Bruce Boxleitner.

Melissa Gilbert cuddling with Bruce Boxleitner in their hotel room [left], Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert with their son Michael at the 84th Annual Hollywood Chamber Installation Luncheon Honoring Melissa Gilbert on April 28, 2005 [right] | Source: Getty Images


Before Gilbert met Boxleitner, she was married to the actor and producer Bo Brinkman. Her marriage to Brinkman produced a son, but all was not well with the couple.

While Brinkman was in Gettysburg, he constantly asked Gilbert to visit, but she would not because they had problems they hadn't dealt with for years, and their child was in preschool.

One day, her publicist called her to inform her that the National Enquirer wanted to run a story on Brinkman, and they had evidence of him drinking and cheating.

Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert at the Hooray For Hollywood AIDS Benefit on April 5, 1988 | Source: Getty Images


She asked the publicist to hold off on the story while she hired a private investigator to get definite answers because she felt the end of their marriage was close.

The detective confirmed the story, and Gilbert took her son to Gettysburg to see Brinkman. When she confronted him, he didn't own up immediately but eventually did.

Gilbert told Brinkman that she was done with their relationship but stayed for a few more days so that their son could spend time with him.

Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert at the premiere of "Dances With Wolves" | Source: Getty Images


When Gilbert visited the set of the movie Brinkman was working on, she realized that she was in an alternate universe, and she was furious because everyone seemed to know about his parties except her.

She returned to Los Angeles and asked Brinkman to move his things out of the house. After a few months of separation, Gilbert began the divorce process.



When they met, Boxleitner informed her that his personal life was complicated, and she reminded him that her five-year marriage was also over.

However, she knew that going out with him felt right in her gut. Gradually, they began talking intimately and frequently on the phone when they were at work.

While she was on the set of "With Hostile Intent," Boxleitner visited her and enjoyed seeing her in her cop uniform. When Boxleitner was in Montreal, Gilbert agreed to meet him for the weekend.

Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the screening of "Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson" on January 2, 1992 | Source: Getty Images


Over the weekend, their relationship became intimate. However, Boxleitner became panic-stricken that they would get married, have a child, and he would ruin their relationship.

Boxleitner did not want a situation where they would have more kids whose parents were no longer together; he had already fathered two kids in his previous relationship.

Boxleitner was married to his first wife, Kathryn Holcomb, a co-star on "How the West Was Won." Before their divorce, they welcomed two sons, Sam and Lee.

Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the World Premiere of Bram Stroker's "Dracula" | Source: Getty Images



One evening, while they were having dinner, Boxleitner asked Gilbert to marry him, and his proposal shocked her because she knew he was afraid to leap.

After she agreed, they went ring shopping and picked a date neither of them would forget. Gilbert wanted a small ceremony with just family and friends, and Boxleitner agreed to it.

Sam Boxleitner, Michael Boxleitner, Bruce Boxleitner, and Melissa Gilbert at the Variety Club Gala Benefiting Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus | Source: Getty Images


They had a ceremony in front of her mother's fireplace and snuck out to her house without the paparazzi seeing them. Gilbert thought that marrying Boxleitner was proof that she could live life on her terms.

A few months after their wedding, she vowed to get in the best shape of her life. As Gilbert began working out and being healthy, she quickly got pregnant without trying to.

Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the Burbank, Ca Los Angeles Equestrian Center on April 24, 1997 | Source: Getty Images


Once she realized that she was two weeks late, Gilbert immediately knew she was pregnant. When she broke the news to Boxleitner, he did not believe her, and they argued.

He accused her of getting pregnant to trap him when she reminded him that they were already married. After over two hours of processing the news, he told Gilbert that it was time to call their parents.

Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the Penfolds Black Tie Dinner Honoring Australians in Entertainment | Source: Getty Images


Their baby was due on Christmas Eve, so Gilbert had her baby shower on October 1. However, she heard her water break five days later after waking up.

Gilbert was initially in denial, but luckily for her, Boxleitner was at home, and she called out to him. After he rushed her to the hospital, Gilbert had an emergency C-section after her son, Michael, almost died.

Melissa Gilbert and Michael during Hollywood Celebrity Families turn out to Celebrate Old Navy and P.S. Arts Partnership | Source: Getty Images


On October 6, 1995, Michael was born at 28 weeks, but he already had a full head of blond hair, and she said he looked exactly like his father. 

Gilbert knew that despite what the tabloids had written against her, she was a good mother, always prioritized her two kids, and worked hard to give them the best in life. 

Melissa Gilbert at the opening night party for "Medea" on January 30, 2020 | Source: Getty Images



While Gilbert was on the "Childhood Sweetheart" set in Los Angeles, Boxleitner called her over the phone and accused her of abusing his trust in her.

His voice was full of rage, pain, and he was sobbing. When Gilbert decided to find out what happened, Boxleitner informed her that someone had left a tape of her talking on the phone.

Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards | Source: Getty Images


He accused Gilbert of having an affair while she was on the "Seduction in a Small Town" set in Calgary. Gilbert confessed that her relationship with the said actor was inappropriate, but they never had an affair.

While she and Boxleitner tried to trace the tape's origins, they discovered it was from a psycho stalker obsessed with Boxleitner.

Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the world premiere of "TRON: Legacy" on December 11, 2010 | Source: Getty Images


Gilbert and Boxleitner reconciled and were able to work through their marriage. In 2009, when she released her book "Prairie Tale: A Memoir," Gilbert dedicated it to Boxleitner.

However, on August 22, 2011, Gilbert filed for divorce from Boxleitner after 16 years of marriage. She stated "irreconcilable differences" in her filing and sought joint custody of their son while revealing that they had loved each other for a long time.