Remember Melissa Anderson from 'Little House on the Prairie'? After years she has hardly changed
Still remembered for her role on the show, Melissa Sue Anderson leads a life away from the spotlight.
It was fun to see Mary, Laura, and Carrie Ingalls rolling down the Minnesota prairie as part of the introduction for the successful television series Little House on the Prairie.
Melissa Anderson played Mary, the shy, older daughter to Michael Landon and Jaren Grassle's characters Charles and Caroline Ingalls.
The only one to earn an Emmy Award nomination for her brilliant performance during the fourth season when her character goes blind. Her work was etched in the memories of the audiences that even after three decades, fans still remember Anderson as “Blind Mary,” according to Stanton Daily.
Born in Berkeley, California on September 26, 1962, Anderson quickly took to dancing and excelled on the stage. Impressed by her talent, her dance teacher urged her parents to find an agent.
She found work easily thanks to her piercing blue eyes and gorgeous blonde hair. She made her acting debut on an episode of Bewitched in 1972, aged 10.
The following year, she made an appearance on The Brady Bunch as the girl who kissed Bobby Brady.
When she turned 11, she went in for the audition for a new series on NBC titled, Little House on the Prairie, also starring Michael Landon.
In an interview, she revealed that there were initially 50 girls who were interviewed for the part of the oldest daughter, Mary Ingalls. The number was narrowed down to 25 girls to read for Landon. Finally, after the screen test, she was selected for the part that was to become an important part of her life.
The young actress made her debut on the show's two-hour movie pilot that aired on NBC in March 1974. The lives of the Ingalls family unfolded in Walnut Grove, Minnesota throughout the 1870's and 1880's, and Anderson spent the next eight seasons as the shy older sister who eventually went blind during the fourth season.
She took her craft seriously. Anderson went to the Foundation for the Junior Blind and was instructed on how a young person adjusts to recent blindness.
It was the first time in the history of a television series that a show's regular had lost their sight and did not get it back! She said that it was “exciting and challenging at the beginning,” but was difficult to sustain over the years.
The role that made her the youngest nominee for the Emmy at the time, limited her character. She revealed that that was the reason for her to move n from the show, doing only three episodes in the eighth season.
She had many offers on hand when she appeared on the final two episodes of the season. With appearances on series like The Love Boat, Chips and Fantasy Island, she was cast as Nancy Rizzi in Michael Landon's autobiographical film, The Loneliest Runner, in 1976.
Her role on the ABC Afterschool Special episode titled Which Mother is Mine?, won her an Emmy Award in 1979, while Spain conferred her with the country's highest television award, the TP de Oro Award, for the Best Foreign Actress for her work on Little House on the Prairie.
She retired from television in 2007 and became a Canadian citizen after marrying Michael Sloan. She was seen in the spotlight rarely in the last decade.
“I’m retired, except to act when friends, who are producers or directors, ask me.”
Melissa Sue Anderson, Staton Daily, May 19, 2017.
She released her autobiography, The Way I see It – A Look Back at My Life On Little House in 2010. The book offers readers glimpse of life on the set with the cast and crew of the hit show.
It looks at her life after the show as she expresses gratitude for the boost it gave to her career. She was last seen in the 2016 film, The Brits Are Coming. She is otherwise happy spending time with her family away from the glamorous life of Hollywood.