Hollywood star Melissa Gilbert's life in the industry was fraught with different vices, failed relationships, and a doomed love life with fellow star Rob Lowe.
Melissa Gilbert popularized the beloved character of Laura Ingalls from the 1970s "Little House On The Prairie." She perfectly portrayed Laura such that many young girls wished to have the TV character's ideal girlhood.
Gilbert was the perfect actress for the role, but she also wished to be like Laura deep down. Unfortunately, Gilbert's life was not easy, and things only worsened with life in the spotlight. Here's a look into her troubled youth.
Melissa Gilbert as Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder on an episode TV show, "LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE" | Source: Getty Images
Melissa Gilbert grew up an adopted child, and she was aware of this. Melissa even knew her parents and the circumstances under which she was adopted. Despite having two seemingly supportive adoptive parents, she had a difficult life.
Barbara and Paul Gilbert adopted her, and as she grew up, her parents recognized she had some talent. Melissa went on to secure her Laura Ingalls playing the daughter of the late Michael Landon from 1974 to 1983.
Melissa Gilbert at the 4th Annual People's Choice Awards on February 20, 1978 | Source: Getty Images
Melissa's TV character's age was the same as hers, but their lives differed. She stated that she had been more of "a dork" growing up and had a fairly-grounded home life.
The star actress grew in the public eye from a child star into a superstar, and she was exposed to Hollywood life.
INSIDE MELISSA GILBERT'S LIFE
Brooke Shields and Melissa Gilbert circa 1982 in New York City | Source: Getty Images
Melissa was involved in drugs and alcohol in her young adult years. Her popularity as an adult revolved around trysts, Hollywood playboys, drugs, alcoholism, and three nose jobs before she was 20.
All these she penned in her memoir, "Prairie Tale," which tells the tumultuous story of her real life. Another significant aspect of her young life was her rocky relationship and teen love life with fellow actor Rob Lowe.
Amid the fast life and rockstar lifestyle, Melissa met young actor Rob Lowe, with whom she became friends. Melissa recalled being "14 or 15" when she met Lowe in an interview with "Access."
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert during "The Hotel New Hampshire" Los Angeles Premiere at DGA Theatre in West Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images
The "Christmas In My Hometown" actress explained that Lowe had run up to her and introduced himself as a child actor. He would later tell her he tucked his script beneath his jacket so she could see he was an actor.
After that day, they remained friends in the industry, but adulthood made the difference. The actress recalled how their relationship progressed into romance.
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert at "The Hotel New Hampshire" West Hollywood Premiere on March 1, 1984 at the DGA Theatre | Source: Getty Images
Melissa and Lowe bumped into each other years after they lost connection. She explained that she had been driving home from the set of "Prairie" when Lowe pulled up at a stop. Melissa also described how she still had her makeup on and had "funky" hair in a bun.
That marked their reconnection, and they shared contacts. The two went on to date amid a drama-filled love life.
SHE FELL "HOPELESSLY" IN LOVE
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert seen at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California on September 9, 1983 | Source: Getty Images
Before Lowe, Melissa dated a couple of young stars in Hollywood, including Tom Cruise. She had met Cruise at an event he attended alongside Emilio Estevez, and they hit it off right from the start.
Melissa explained that she and Cruise would often have makeout sessions in her mom's living room, saying it made her giddy. However, with Lowe, the attraction was on a whole new level.
She described their first conversation as "easy and fun." Their relationship quickly progressed. Melissa was passionate for the young Lowe, and everything revolved around him.
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert pose for a portrait in 1987 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
She recalled a teacher saying that love was like a hunger that ran through the entire body, and that was how Melissa felt. She noted falling "instantly, hopelessly and stupidly in love."
Melissa and Lowe had some ups and downs that led to a breakup. However, it did not last long before Lowe went back, begging and asking her to marry him.
Melissa Gilbert at the Opening Night of "A Shayna Maidel" Off Broadway on October 29, 1987 | Source: Getty Images
She recalled the moment he told her he wanted her forever. Melissa was shocked and unable to respond. His proposal threw her off guard such that it took a few days before she could gather herself.
Melissa was reluctant to agree to marry Lowe, and when she told her mother, Barbare replied that he would be a good husband. Although this statement did not help much, Melissa agreed to marry her beloved boyfriend.
But it did come crashing down. Amid the frenzy of knowing she had a wedding on the way, Melissa found out she was pregnant. Although this was jolting, she excitedly went to give Lowe the great news.
However, his reaction did not mirror hers. Instead, Lowe became instantly panic-stricken, breaking to her that he could not be a father, a husband, or even a boyfriend. This shattered Melissa as she left him for good to pick up the pieces. She wrote in her memoir:
"We broke up. It ran its course. I think we were just too young,"
MARRIAGE TO BO BRINKMAN
Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert at the "Hooray For Hollywood" AIDS Benefit on April 5, 1988 | Source: Getty Images
After her pregnancy, Melissa felt at a loss to handle what had befallen her. She pondered whether to be a single mom, give up the baby for adoption or abort the pregnancy.
However, the "When We Last Spoke" actress lost her child amid her worries, sadness, and pain. The pain was unbearable, but Melissa commended her mom for standing by her through her depression.
Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert at the "Full Moon in Blue Water" Premiere on November 02, 1988 | Source: Getty Images
A few weeks later, Melissa was getting back to her old self and hanging out with friends. On one fateful day, she hung out with pals Glenn Zagoren and Howard Gilman, who introduced her to Bo Brinkman.
The two courted for six weeks before Brinkman proposed, and she said yes. She had a dramatic Long Island wedding ceremony. Just as the wedding officiator asked Brinkman and Melissa to exchange a kiss, firefighters broke in, asking everyone to evacuate the building.
Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert at the 22nd Annual Nostros Awards June 05, 1992 | Source: Getty Images
The couple would later find out it was a prank. Melissa and Brinkman got married in 1988, and the following year, they welcomed a son, Dakota. The couple was married for six years and went their separate ways in 1994.
Brinkman had been unfaithful in the marriage, and Melissa also dealt with alcohol problems that had started after her breakup with Lowe, which riddled her marriage.
MELISSA'S RELATIONSHIP WITH BRUCE BOXLEITNER
Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert at the World Premiere of Bram Stroker's "Dracula" on November 10, 1992 | Source: Getty Images
Melissa was back to her life as an actress after her marriage with Brinkman ended. She was a single mother and was allowed to bring her son to movie sets. It was during one of her workdays that she met Bruce Boxleitner.
They were immediately smitten with each other, and in a short while, they began an affair. Melissa wrote in her memoir that she once visited him on set, and after a beautiful time together, Boxleitner panicked.
He had fallen in love with her but was reluctant to admit it or take their relationship to the next level. Boxleitner later realized that he wanted to be with Melissa, so he went back and fixed things.
Melissa Gilbert at a Taping of "The Sally Jessy Raphael Show" on September 09, 1993 | Source: Getty Images
The "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" actor and Melissa became man and wife, joining their blended family. Boxleitner already had kids from a previous relationship, as did Melissa.
The "Bless All The Dear Children" actress got pregnant again, and the news of her pregnancy was met with utter shock. Boxleitner was in disbelief as he first accused her of getting pregnant to trap him into marriage.
Melissa Gilbert appears on NBC News' "Today" show | Source: Getty Images
He later retracted his statement, noting that he had panicked because he was unsure how to take care of another child. Melissa's baby was later born prematurely, and the doctors made sure that he survived. From then on, Melissa prioritized her two children.
During her marriage to Boxleitner, Melissa kept dealing with her drinking problem. Finally, however, the actress experienced a turning point. It was the moment she realized she had a drinking problem. Melissa sought therapy and attended AA meetings. She then became sober.
Melissa Gilbert visits the SiriusXM Studio on December 8, 2011, in New York City | Source: Getty Images
Her marriage with Boxleitner seemed fine until a tape was delivered to the latter. Melissa penned in her memoir that her husband called her while at work, screaming at the top of his lungs.
The content of the tape purported that Melissa had an affair. However, no amount of reconciliation could fix their marriage. Melissa and Boxleitner ultimately ended their marriage after 16 years.
HER MARRIAGE TO TIMOTHY BUSFIELD
Actress Melissa Gilbert and actor Timothy Busfield participate in the Los Angeles Mission Christmas Eve lunch For The Homeless held at the Los Angeles Mission on December 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
Timothy Busfield and Melissa met at a bar in what looked straight out of a rom-com. The pair had met twenty years earlier because they moved in the same circle.
The duo got talking and found out they had a lot in common. Melissa and Busfield tied the knot in 2013 and bought a restored Victorian-style home in Howell.
Melissa Gilbert sits for a portrait at her home in Brighton, Michigan with her husband Timothy Busfield on March 1, 2016 | Source: Getty Images
Once speaking about his marriage to Melissa, Busfield shared that he felt lucky to have been able to marry her "without a chin." He talked about not having a chance with her when she dated Rob Lowe but had to wait until she was in her forties.