‘I find all my own parts’: How Rob Lowe’s path to stardom started with a Wright State play at age 12

The first significant story about Rob Lowe appeared in the Dayton Daily News on Aug. 14, 1976.

Lowe, the Dayton native who would become one of the country’s biggest stars of movies and TV, had just secured his first professional part at age 12. The story under the headline “Boy, 12, sets his cap for stardom as actor,” included information that Lowe basically got himself the part.

We went into the archives for some of our earliest coverage of the actor, including his confidence at his earliest stages.

“You just call any place and ask them if there’s a part for a kid,” Lowe said of his process for getting the part in “Sherlock Holmes” at the Wright State University summer theater in 1976.

“I called Wright State and they said, ‘Yes.’”

Lowe had just finished sixth grade at Longfellow Middle School. The story said he signed up for an acting class at the Dayton Playhouse at 8 years old after seeing a play he enjoyed.

“Some kids think learning lines is like learning homework,” he said. “But not for me.”

The story noted he would be moving to Malibu, Calif., with his mother that fall to pursue commercials.

“And when the people in Dayton get great big jobs, I think they’ll remember me and give me a break,” he said.

Less than six years later, the DDN published a story headlined “Rob Lowe offered movie role,” which covered his casting in the movie “The Outsiders” at age 17. The movie was released in 1983.

That story said Lowe’s performance in the ABC after-school special “Schoolboy Father” helped him land the role in the Francis Ford Coppola movie.

By February 1983, coverage had shifted to Lowe’s growing momentum as both an actor and a celebrity. A column headlined “Daytonian Lowe getting big roles, big attention” covered one of his first appearances in the National Enquirer along with the coming release of “The Outsiders” and “Class” and the debut that night of his title role in the TV movie “Thursday’s Child,” in which he played a teenager dying of heart disease.

And then things exploded for Lowe. In July 1983, he visited with a Dayton Daily News reporter in a Chicago hotel room to discuss the trajectory of his career.

That included his role as a fan fascination for his love life, which at the time involved Melissa Gilbert from “Little House on the Prairie.” Recent news of their possible breakup was covered widely.

“My grandparents even called from Sidney,” he said.

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