13 Fascinating Things You Didn't Know About Rob Lowe

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Vote up the Rob Lowe stories that you *literally* cannot believe are true.

From his "Brat Pack" days as an '80s teen star to his more recent comedic turns in hit shows like Parks and Rec, Rob Lowe has kept his Hollywood heartthrob status for more than four decades. The actor, who has published two memoirs (Stories I Only Tell My Friends and Love Life) and hosts a podcast called Literally!, can draw on plenty of interesting material from his many years in the entertainment industry.

Aside from his vast (and surprising) dating history, he also shares stories of famous figures beyond the acting orbit - like his drawing contest with Andy Warhol or his mysterious security guard with government connections. While his lifestyle has changed from his younger days (Lowe is now a married father of two), he continues to openly reflect on his past and the wild ride it's been.

Vote up the juiciest tidbits that give you the lowdown on Rob Lowe.

  • He Was On A 'Dry Run' Flight With The 9/11 Hijackers
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    He Was On A 'Dry Run' Flight With The 9/11 Hijackers

    On August 31, 2001, Rob Lowe boarded a flight out of Washington, DC - American Airlines Flight 77. Because he was filming The West Wing at the time, it was a flight Lowe routinely took, so he knew the crew members and considered some of them friends. This same flight, and crew, crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

    It wasn't until 2005, however, that Lowe learned the flight he'd taken 11 days earlier was a practice run and he'd unknowingly flown with the hijackers. At the time Lowe was being deposed by "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui. The FBI wanted to speak with Lowe before he spoke with Moussaoui's public defender.

    Lowe never learned what Moussaoui may have wanted, as Moussaoui ended up firing his lawyer and defending himself; Lowe wasn't deposed. But he said that although he can remember the flight, he doesn't remember anything unusual. Still, he was left shaken by the knowledge that he had unknowingly flown with the same people responsible for 9/11.

  • In 1986, Rob Lowe spent a month in Paris after promoting his film About Last Night at the Deauville and Venice film festivals. While in France, Lowe's security was handled by a mysterious man (and his company), Glenn Souham, a Franco-American businessman with ties to the White House who safely shuttled Lowe to safety amidst bombings in the city.

    When Lowe, who became friendly with Souham, asked him what exactly he did, he only replied, "I have many different areas in my life. I am in different countries; I help many kinds of people. I get to see many, many things. Things you would never imagine."

    One of the people he helped was Princess Stephanie of Monaco, daughter of Rainier III and Grace Kelly. Souham's company handled security for the royal family. When he caught Lowe looking at Princess Stephanie's Vogue cover, he offered to introduce him. Lowe and Stephanie quickly became infatuated with one another, with Lowe checking out of his hotel and moving his things to Stephanie's place after their first night together.

    Shortly after Souham dropped Lowe at the airport to head to LA, Souham was fired at multiple times in the chest by three masked men in broad daylight in front of his house. Souham reportedly walked into the ER and said, "I have five wounds. I believe they are 9mm," before passing out. He didn't survive, and his slaying remains unsolved.

  • A Missed Call From His Mother Finally Prompted Him To Get Sober
    Photo: The West Wing / NBC
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    A Missed Call From His Mother Finally Prompted Him To Get Sober

    Rob Lowe struggled with substance abuse before achieving sobriety in 1990. He celebrated 31 years clean in 2021, and discussed his personal journey in an interview with Variety, saying:

    This was just how the business was back then... You’d go on the set and figure out which department was selling the coke on the set. It was no different than craft services. Where are the Red Vines, and where is the great Peruvian blow?... Those days are long, long, loooong gone.

    Lowe said he was finally ready to get sober in 1990. His sex-tape scandal and a call from his mom made him reevaluate his way of life:

    One day back in the days of answering machines my mother called me and I could hear her voice on the answering machine. I didn’t want to pick up because I was really, really hungover and I didn’t want her to know. She was telling me that my grandfather, who I loved, was in critical condition in the hospital and she needed my help. And I didn’t pick up. My thought process in that moment was, "I need to drink a half a bottle of tequila right now so I can go to sleep so I can wake up so I can pick up this phone."

    Lowe said he'd kept in his wallet a card for a counselor that a friend had given him. The next day, he called.

  • His Hero, Warren Beatty, May Have Been 'The Other Man'
    Photo: Splendor in the Grass / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In his 2014 memoir Love Life, Lowe described meeting his idol, Hollywood legend Warren Beatty, as an 18-year-old. Lowe wrote that he had been dating a "young, successful actress" who was friends with Beatty and spent a lot of time at his house, though he doesn't name her. One night he accompanied his girlfriend to Beatty's house to watch a movie.

    According to Lowe, Beatty told Lowe that he reminded him of himself at a similar age. Beatty then remarked that Lowe's girlfriend reminded him of his own former girlfriend Natalie Wood:

    "It’s funny," [Beatty] continued. "Natalie was always getting asked by Frank Sinatra to come up to his house and lay by the pool. I never paid much attention to it, but years later, just a few years before Natalie died, I asked her, "Hey, we’re both adults now, what exactly were you doing all those days at Sinatra’s?"

    "And she looked me right in the eyes and said, 'Oh Warren, what do you think we were doing? We were f***ing!'

    "Isn’t that funny?" He smiled at me, shaking his head at the memory.

    I looked over at my girlfriend who looked away, ashen-faced. And the penny dropped.

    Thanks for the heads up, Warren Beatty. You’re my hero to this day.

  • In 1984, Rob Lowe had just finished filming St. Elmo's Fire and Madonna was just becoming a pop sensation. Lowe saw the singer perform in concert, watching from the front row when a security guard informed him that Madonna had invited him backstage.

    The two arranged a date months later. Lowe described the venue in his memoir Love Life as "a giant dance club that was filled with rabid ‘boy-toy’ doppelganger fans of both sexes. It was a madhouse." The famous pair made it safely to the VIP section when Madonna decided she wanted to join the crowd:

    Madonna and I were discussing where we would sneak off to at the end of the evening when she suddenly jumped up and said, "Let’s dance!"...

    I couldn't fathom what would happen to us on the dance floor while they played her music... "I’ll wait here," I said. "Suit yourself," she replied as she waded beyond the velvet rope into the fray. "You're crazy!" I said, half meaning it. "No. I'm not," she said, stopping and looking directly into my eyes. "I'm just not going to let success f*ck up my fun."

    Madonna disappeared into the crowd of fans and Lowe didn't see her again for 20 years.

  • He Starred In An Opening Number That Almost Tanked The Oscars
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    He Starred In An Opening Number That Almost Tanked The Oscars

    For the 61st Academy Awards in 1989, producer Allan Carr (whose previous work included Broadway hits like Grease) decided to try something different. Instead of a host, he went with a campy 12-minute opening number starring Snow White and her surprise blind date for the evening, Rob Lowe. The bizarre act also featured talk show host Merv Griffin singing "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" while a number of aging stars appeared on stage, seemingly unsure of what they were doing.

    Lowe's infamous role is perhaps most remembered for the duet he sang with Snow White (Eileen Bowman), a movie-themed parody of "Proud Mary" that included lines like “I used to work a lot for Walt Disney, starring in cartoons every night and day.”

    The show received scathing reviews, as did Lowe's performance. Janet Maslin wrote for The New York Times, "The 61st Academy Awards ceremony began by creating the impression that there would never be a 62nd" and said Lowe "would be well-advised to confine all future musical activities to the shower."

    Disney sued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the embarrassing portrayal of Snow White, a character the academy had never sought permission to use. Seventeen big names of Hollywood signed a letter to the academy expressing their disappointment. While Bowman's career was over before it started, Lowe received backlash as well.

    Lowe said that at the time, the academy asked him to participate, and being "young and naive," he didn't know any better. But he started to realize mid-number that it wasn't going well:

    I remember vividly looking out in the audience and seeing [Rain Man director] Barry Levinson... I could see him very clearly popeyed and mouthing, “What the f*ck?” But to be a successful actor, you have to have a big dollop of self-denial, so I managed to convince myself that I’d killed it.

    Despite his continued sense of humor about the show, which he refers to as a "dark and tragic event," Lowe told The New York Times there was one star who was a fan of the number:

    I got to the green room and Lucille Ball told me she didn’t know I was such a good singer and made me sit next to her and hold her hand and watch the next 20 minutes of the Oscars. That ended up being my all-time favorite memory because a lot of people didn’t like it, but Lucy did. If it made Lucy happy, it made me happy, because I love Lucy.