At the age of 55, Robe Lowe is one seriously wealthy man. According to those in the know (by which we mean Celebrity Net Worth, the actor is currently sat on the very pretty fortune of $60 million… not bad for a man who nearly had his career swept from under him thanks to two very saucy videotapes. Rob Lowe is a wealthy actor.
The Brat Pack
In the early 1980s, Lowe jumped to fame as part of the infamous Brat Pack, a “tribe” of young, talented actors that came to prominence thanks to their collaborations on numerous coming-of-age teen movies (if you’re wondering who the others were, think along the likes of Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy, and you’ll be on the right track). After making his mark in the 1983 TV film Thursday's Child, his fame went through the roof when he and Emilio Estevez were cast in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders. Success followed success, and by the mid ’80s, Lowe’s enviable list of credits included the likes of St. Elmo's Fire, About Last Night..., Youngblood, Square Dance, and Masquerade.
The Fall from Grace
In 1985, David Blum’s article for the New York magazine, "Hollywood's Brat Pack", raised a tide of negativity toward the core members of the Brat Prat. Overnight, they went from being seen as talented individuals to an unprofessional mob, with Lowe, Estevez, and Nelson taking the brunt of the blame. Lowe’s public image took another hit in 1988 when he became the first celebrity to become involved in a sex tape scandal; although he’d later go on to mock his behavior on Saturday Night Live, at the time, it was seen as just another example of the out-of-control antics of an actor whose private life was quickly derailing any prospect of a future career.
The Comeback Kid
For most of the 1990s, Lowe’s career languished in the doldrums. Relegated to brief (sometimes uncredited) appearances on insignificant TV shows and films, it seemed the sex scandal of the 1980s had killed his career for good. And, indeed, it would have, had it not been for a certain series called The West Wing. In 1999, Lowe was cast as West Wing’s Sam Seaborn. The overnight success of the series catapulted Lowe back into the limelight, and for the first time in over a decade, people were once again talking about his on-screen abilities, rather than his off-screen peccadillos. Lowe stayed with the show until 2003; by the time he left, he was once again hot property.
After re-establishing himself in Hollywood with The West Wing, Lowe entered the 2000s on a high. Although the first couple of years proved less successful than he may have liked (both his 2003 and 2004 projects, The Lyon’s Den and Dr. Vegas, were canceled in short order), he soon found himself back in the money with his hugely successful run as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee in a West End production of Sorkin's A Few Good Men. The early nineties were also the years Lowe started venturing into the world of the TV miniseries, a genre that proved his making. His 2004 hit, Stephen King’s miniseries Salem's Lot, was the highest-rated cable program of the summer. His follow up, Lifetime’s Beach Girls, made the highest ratings for any movie premiere in the network’s history.
A TV Fixture
After (re)making his name on TV mini-series, Lowe’s star went stellar in 2006 when he was cast in Brothers & Sisters. He continued to star in the series until the end of the 2009–10 season, when he left after becoming unhappy with his reduced screen time in season 4. If he had any concerns about his future after leaving the show, he needn’t have worried: for the past decade, he’s been an almost constant fixture on our screens thanks to his recurring and lead roles in the likes of Park and Recreation (2010–2015), The Grinder (2015–2016), You, Me and the Apocalypse (2015), Code Black (2016–2018), Wild Bill (2019), and most recently, 9-1-1: Lone Star (2020).
The Film Star Returneth
Lowe’s first attempt at a film career may have been sidelined by his off-screen antics, but his 2nd attempt has been a lot more successful. Since The West Wing catapulted back to the top of casting director’s wish lists, he’s appeared in a string of big hits, including Thank You for Smoking (2005), Behind the Candelabra (2013), Sex Tape (2014), and Super Troopers 2 (2018).
Outside of his hugely successful film and TV career, Lowe has worked his public image to the max in various side ventures. The result? Well, that $60 million didn’t make itself… Some of Lowe’s most successful sidelines have included a men's skincare product line called Profile (find it online and at Nordstrom stores), a fragrance line entitled 18 Amber Wood, and several well-received memoirs. For the last decade, he’s also been subsiding his income with some highly profitable endorsements: since 2014, he’s acted as spokesperson for DirecTV, and in 2017, he starred as astronaut Colonel Sanders in a series of commercials for KFC. In 2018, meanwhile, his “low carb lifestyle” won him a spokesperson deal (and the chance to appear in a series of multimedia ads) with Atkins Nutritionals.
The Making of The Millions
Rob Lowe’s career has been one of dramatic highs and equally dramatic lows. What it’s also been is long- something that can only be attributed to Lowe’s tenacious refusal to let a few kicks keep him down. Yes, he’s had setbacks, but as that old saying goes, when a door closes, a window opens. The sex tape scandal of the 1980s may have shut the door on Lowe’s early film career, but the window of opportunity presented itself with TV, an opportunity that Lowe grabbed hold off and 20 years later, is still milking for all its worth… as that $60 million fortune attests.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee