A rare survivor of the 1980s Brat Pack, teen idol Rob Lowe has had his share of Hollywood highs and lows. This self-proclaimed man of no regrets certainly has a lot to choose from: There’s the Oscar debacle, the nannies, and, of course, that infamous videotape. But what’s really behind the strong jaw and perfect teeth? Here are 50 stunning and seedy facts about Rob Lowe.
Robert Hepler Lowe was born in Virginia on St. Patrick’s Day in 1964. After a couple of divorces, Lowe’s mother, a teacher, followed her third husband to California and brought her two young sons, Rob and Chad, with her. This move to LaLaland put Lowe in a position to meet all kinds of Hollywood types and help him find his calling as an actor and a man about town.
Growing up in Los Angeles and attending Santa Monica High School, Lowe met a family that would be influential in his future in many ways. Martin Sheen, most famous for starring in Apocalypse Now, was the father of two of Lowe’s classmates: Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Lowe became friends with the two young boys and even with Martin himself.
These relationships would last years—and see both breathtaking highs and horrific lows.
Rob Lowe admits that when he was growing up in California, he and Charlie Sheen were just a couple of nerds. Really? Legendary bad boy Charlie Sheen was a nerd? It seems unlikely, but as Lowe writes in his memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, at that point, he just wanted to be a baseball player. I guess Rob Lowe has his own definition of the word "nerd?"
In addition to the Sheens, Lowe’s friends included future stars Sean Penn and Robert Downey Jr. Lowe also managed to make the acquaintance of the child of a great Hollywood legend. He was friends with Cary Grant’s daughter Jennifer Grant, who went on to appear on Beverly Hills 90210. With all these stars around him, it wasn’t long before Lowe landed his first celebrity girlfriend.
Lowe’s first girlfriend was Melissa Gilbert, a child actor who was super famous for playing Laura Ingalls on the immensely popular and family-friendly Little House on the Prairie. It should’ve been a tender teenage romance, but instead, it was a living nightmare. Lowe became the bad boy counterpart to her saintly persona.
While the two dated through much of the 1980s, their relationship was the source of a whole lot of drama and heartache.
As Rob Lowe was finding his feet in Hollywood, he took a rather embarrassing part in a music video for the band The Go-Gos. In the video, Lowe plays a young good looking high school student who gets a lot of female attention. It wasn’t exactly an acting stretch for Lowe, but bigger and better things were coming his way.
Rob Lowe got a coveted role in Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of The Outsiders, the classic novel about greasers from the wrong side of the tracks. Coppola wanted Lowe and his co-stars to see what that life was like, so he dropped the actors, including Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez, at the homes of people who’d been greasers as kids.
But Lowe was actually going to learn more about his future life by watching an already famous co-star.
Before filming The Outsiders, most of the cast, like Lowe, were unknown actors—but not Matt Dillon. Dillon had appeared in a few films and had crazed fans waiting for him in the lobby of the hotel the actors were staying in. One day, Lowe saw Dillon almost randomly pick up a female fan from the group and take her to his room.
It was then and there Lowe decided that Dillon was his hero. Probably not the best role model, considering what happened during those next few years…
While filming The Outsiders, Rob Lowe and his teenage co-stars had a lot of freedom. Lowe remembers that after a long day on set they would all get into a van to go back to the hotel. Usually, Teamsters who worked on the set were driving and would throw some brewskis back to the thirsty but underage actors. As we’ll see, this early drinking did not bode well for Lowe’s future.
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In the 1980s, Rob Lowe and a collection of his acting peers got the nickname the Brat Pack. Mostly they were Generation X actors who partied a lot and appeared in angsty coming-of-age movies. Lowe had appeared in St. Elmo’s Fire alongside Demi Moore, which planted him squarely at the center of the pack. But partying Brat Pack-style soon got way out of control.
At that time, actors like Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Lowe himself ruled both the screen and the clubs. New York Magazine called the Brat Pack “a roving band of famous young stars on the prowl for parties, women, and a good time.” They lived a life of excess, and were constantly surrounded by adoring women. Lowe in particular was getting so much female attention that he didn’t know what to do.
New York Magazine’s David Blum was the one who named Lowe and company the Brat Pack after spending a night watching them holding court at the Hard Rock Cafe. He witnessed a continuous parade of girls approaching their table. As Rob Lowe later said, “It can be hard enough just to BE in your teens and 20s. Then add fame, money, access, and every single person telling you that you’re the greatest person who ever was, and it can be a recipe for disaster.”
Well, disaster was on the way.
While Rob Lowe was filming Hotel New Hampshire with Jodie Foster, he started an affair with his slightly older co-star Nastassja Kinski, who had the double allure of being both European and a model. One day, Lowe’s girlfriend Gilbert called his hotel room and received a devastating surprise.
An operator told her that she could find Lowe in another room: Kinski’s! Gilbert went ballistic and got on a plane to confront Lowe face to face.
Rob Lowe had no good reason for Gilbert to explain why he was staying in Kinski’s room. To deal with the problem, Gilbert checked into the cast hotel where she and Lowe spent “15 hours of crying, screaming, talking, making love, carrying on, and laughing.” Jeez, I hope they weren't within earshot of Kinski’s room—or anyone needing a good night’s sleep.
Even after this reconciliation, Lowe was not done with his cheating ways.
Once it was clear that Lowe was going to be a success, his dating options opened wide up. He moved over—and up—to royalty. Lowe briefly dated Princess Stephanie of Monaco, who was Grace Kelly’s daughter. But this womanizing was more like a game to Lowe. In fact, he made it into a sport.
Years later, Lowe bragged about stealing women from Duran Duran singer John Taylor. Nastassja Kinski was one of them, and Lowe hinted that there were others. It seemed like it was a bit of a sport between the rocker and Lowe. But through all this skirt-chasing, Lowe still had Melissa Gilbert to worry about.
The list of women connected to Rob Lowe is long. Highlights include Iran-Contra scandal figure Fawn Hall, actor Marlee Matlin, Winona Ryder, and debutante of the decade Cornelia Guest. In fact, there were rumors that he had affairs with all of his leading ladies. But what about poor Gilbert?
Lowe’s next project was Brat Pack romance film About Last Night, and he thought it would be a good idea to have his co-star be his real-life girlfriend Melissa Gilbert. Maybe this way he could keep himself in check. Gilbert auditioned for director Ed Zwick but lost the role to Demi Moore—and what Zwick told Gilbert was brutal.
He said he made the casting decision because Lowe and Moore looked so good together. Now that had to hurt.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Lowe and Demi Moore hooked up during the filming of About Last Night. Moore writes in her book that she only vaguely remembers their one-night stand, as she was dealing with a substance abuse issue at the time. When asked about an affair with Moore, Lowe would only say, “a gentleman never kisses and tells.” In what twisted world is a womanizer like Lowe a gentleman?
When Gilbert got wind of Lowe’s night of passion with Moore, she set her sights on revenge. But she was stuck in the middle of Texas making a movie about horses. She didn’t find any suitable mates in her co-stars, so she settled for a third assistant director. Come on Melissa, a third AD? You can certainly do better than that.
Now it was Lowe’s turn to get jealous. However, instead of flying into a rage and getting on a plane to stop her affair, what did Lowe do? He wrote a letter. Remember those? Nothing says “this isn’t urgent” like snail mail. Even though this was a lame attempt to reunite with Gilbert, it worked. They got back together—but there was plenty more drama in store.
The Academy Awards of 1989 will go down in history as having the worst opening number—in part thanks to Rob Lowe. The musical number featured an unknown actress playing Snow White, and Lowe as Her Prince Charming. The only thing flatter than the number was Lowe’s singing voice. Not one for regrets, Lowe simply took a shower and moved on.
Rob Lowe had an interest in politics and wanted to get involved. At the time, Michael Dukakis was running for president and Lowe, who was only 24 at the time, decided to sign up as a campaigner. This ended up being a disaster for both the candidate and Lowe. Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush and Lowe…well he got into some trouble that would nearly ruin his career.
While in Atlanta working on the Dukakis campaign, Lowe—maybe taking a cue from Matt Dillon—met two young female fans and brought them to his hotel room. The girls agreed to let Lowe videotape their...er...time together. The morning after, Lowe woke up to a massive hangover and no girls—but that wasn’t the most troubling part.
The videotape was also gone. If you think things couldn’t get worse, think again.
It turned out that one of the girls Lowe had brought home was only 16 years old—making the videotape unlawful. The girl’s mother turned around and sued Lowe, who blamed his drinking for his lack of judgment. Lowe wanted to put the scandal behind him and quickly settled out of court. The damage to Lowe’s career, however, was far from over.
Back in Lowe’s day, videotapes of celebrities and their bedtime indiscretions were few and far between. This was a new phenomenon and Lowe was, unfortunately, about to find out the damage they could cause. There was no “going viral” back then, but there was something maybe even worse. Racy film king Al Goldstein got hold of the tape and was soon selling it to anyone with 30 bucks in their wallet.
After all the problems this videotape caused Lowe’s career, his later confession about this period in his life was truly disturbing. Years later, he announced that one thing he should have done was to try and make some money off the tape the way that celebrities do nowadays. Really Rob? That’s the lessons you take from this?
Once the tape was out there and people had seen it, Rob Lowe's fans turned on him. They stopped fawning over him and he got very little positive attention. Worse still was that mainstream film roles basically dried up for him. Lowe’s drinking was getting out of control and it seemed that things could not get worse. Surprisingly, there was something good coming his way.
During this dark time in Lowe’s life and career, he became reacquainted with makeup artist Sheryl Berkoff. Lowe had met Berkoff years before on a blind date arranged by Emilio Estevez, but something was different this time around. Lowe was looking to change his reputation and what better way than with a solid relationship.
In case you’re not paying close enough attention, Lowe’s new girlfriend Berkoff, was an ex of Brat Pack cohort Emilio Estevez. But the connection doesn’t stop there: After Lowe had a thing with Demi Moore, it was Estevez who Moore returned to. There’s a whole world out there guys. Maybe try thinking, or at least dating, outside the box?
Lowe and Berkoff dated for a couple of years and eventually, they were ready to tie the knot. There was only one obstacle: Lowe’s drinking. He’d blamed the videotape incident on his problem, but still had yet to get completely sober. Berkoff made a heartbreaking ultimatum. She told him that wouldn't marry him until he did.
Well, if a guy needed motivation to quit something, this was certainly it.
In 1991, Rob Lowe went into rehab and got sober—and then quickly got married. So, now his life was in order: no booze and a supportive partner. Sounds kind of boring for Lowe. But don’t worry. Lowe was a Brat Packer to the end, and he would still find a way to keep his name in the scandal sheets.
The hit TV show The West Wing brought new life to Lowe’s career. Audiences loved seeing Lowe on the small screen and he received a Primetime Emmy nomination for his work. The West Wing also allowed him to work with his childhood father figure Martin Sheen, who played the president. Sadly, having established stars like Sheen around made life on The West Wing difficult for Lowe.
When The West Wing started, the central figure was Lowe’s character Sam Seaborn. Unfortunately, the hit show attracted more and more famous co-stars and the producers wanted to focus a little less on Seaborn and a little more on the characters portrayed by people like Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing. Lowe’s reaction was jaw-dropping.
This did not sit well with him, and he quit. Lowe moved on to other projects, but controversy continued to follow him around.
While working on the TV show Lyon’s Den, Lowe was keen to get singer/songwriter Jewel to be a guest on the show. Jewel was up for the acting—but not down on being Lowe’s love interest. In fact, she refused to kiss the former teen heartthrob, which sent producers into a tizzy. But the problems with Jewel didn’t stop there.
Considering Lowe’s popularity with female fans, it seems absurd that the producers of Lyon’s Den had to force Jewel to kiss Lowe. But that they did. Jewel reluctantly puckered up, but then tried to get the show to delete the scene. Lowe, along with producers and fans, couldn’t understand why Jewel was treating him as if he were Jabba the Hutt.
The answer to this riddle would finally come out over 10 years later.
Rob Lowe appeared alongside then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in ads prompting California tourism. It’s unclear how much time Lowe spent with the muscle-bound Governor, but it could be that Arnold—later caught in a relationship with his housekeeper—was a bad influence on Lowe. You see, things at the Lowe household were about to blow up.
Lowe and his wife Sheryl sued three members of their house staff—two nannies and a chef—for violating confidentiality agreements. The chef had also used the couples’ bed for his own indiscretions and also taken prescription medication from Lowe’s bathroom cabinet. But this lawsuit was just the fuse that ignited a scandal-ridden bonfire.
After Rob Lowe and his wife sued the nannies and the chef, the Lowe’s received two counter lawsuits. There was one from each nanny, and their claims were shocking. The young women alleged all kinds of nastiness against both Lowe and his wife. One said that Lowe had put his hands on her and also exposed you-know-what. Another claimed that Berkoff had made a racially-charged comment about the nanny’s boyfriend.
The topic became so intense that Lowe had to ban it from discussion in any interview he did. And then, when it looked like things could not get any worse for Lowe, something he never expected happened.
A Santa Monica Superior Court Judge dismissed two of the charges against Lowe and his wife. After that, their respective lawyers had all the other lawsuits dismissed. So what happened? No one’s saying. Did money change hands? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way, it was over and Lowe was ready to move on.
In 2015, Lowe was the target of a Comedy Central Roast and Jewel was ready to roast Lowe and tell the world why she refused to kiss him so many years ago. The singer finally revealed that it was because she knew where his mouth had been. This could only be a reference to the teenaged girl Lowe had been with on the videotape. That tape was out to haunt him again, so Lowe decided to set the record straight—and somehow, made things even worse.
Years after the infamous videotape with an underaged girl almost derailed his career, Lowe made an outrageous remark. He said he didn’t regret making the tape because it helped him get serious about his life. He said it was the best thing that had happened to him: nothing about the young woman, nothing about breaking the law. Well, Lowe was never the most introspective guy.
With a career that has seen many ups and downs, Rob Lowe has had more than a few major accomplishments. One of which is his inclusion—along with Elvis, James Dean, and Michael Jackson—on People Magazine’s Top Ten Teen Idols Of All Time. When asked about it, the older—but apparently no wiser—Lowe said, “I’m proud of that. It’s cool.”
Back in the 80s, Lowe's womanizing was out of control, and it came back to bite him. While Gilbert was out of town shooting a film, Lowe took a woman out for lunch behind her back—but he made a fatal mistake. Foolishly, he took his date to Spago, an LA spot frequented by show biz folk. Lowe couldn’t have been too surprised when he saw gossipy Joan Rivers at the same restaurant.
The problem was that Rivers was interviewing him that very night—on The Tonight Show, no less.
Rob Lowe knew that Joan Rivers would mention his secret date on The Tonight Show so he called Gilbert to warn her. Later that night, Rivers didn’t fail to deliver and confronted Lowe about his clandestine encounter. Although Lowe had prepared himself, he still had no real excuse. Cheating just seemed to be something in his nature.
Lowe and Gilbert were quickly bringing a new meaning to “on-again-off-again”—until Lowe made a shocking move. In spite of all the cheating on both their parts, Lowe actually got down on one knee and proposed. The timing was bad as their relationship was a hot mess, but hey, it was Rob Lowe. So Gilbert said yes, and they looked forward to their storybook wedding.
Good luck with that…
As Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert prepared themselves for married life, Gilbert got pregnant. It wasn’t the end of the world—they were already planning on tying the knot, after all. Gilbert shared her happy news with Lowe—and his reaction was devastating. He freaked out, broke off the engagement, and left Gilbert high and dry.
Gilbert had a miscarriage and Lowe moved on to screwing up other things.
Rob Lowe wrote two memoirs—and the first one had a major omission. It neglected to mention that he’d proposed to Melissa Gilbert. Even after all the years had passed, Gilbert was reportedly furious that he didn’t mention the engagement. But it gets worse. Imagine how she felt when the second memoir didn’t mention her at all.
Melissa Gilbert did not let up on ranting about Lowe’s memoirs. It’s safe to say she was a little biased when she compared Lowe’s writing to Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. She claimed the children’s book was more thought-provoking than Lowe’s memoirs. Hey Gilbert, don’t hate on my favorite author.
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