‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Sue Anderson Revealed Details on Why It Was ‘Easier’ to Leave Show

by Joe Rutland

Apparently, “Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Sue Anderson was quite relieved to leave the NBC family drama after seven seasons.

Anderson, who played Mary Ingalls on the show, said she was hardly around the set during that last season for her.

“Actually, I started out the seventh season doing (the theatrical film) ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ in Montreal,” Anderson said in a 2010 interview with PopEntertainment. “And I was here for eight or nine weeks.

“I was always working on something else,” she said. “Whenever I wasn’t being used on ‘Little House’ and there was enough notice, I could do a movie of the week or an after-school special or a ‘Love Boat’ or this or that. I got really used to not being there every day, especially in the last year. That was good because it made it easier to go.”

Easier to go? That definitely doesn’t sound like someone wanted to be around the show at all. Well, Anderson left the show, and “Little House on the Prairie” continued without her.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Felt ‘Lucky’ To Have Role

There was a time, though, where Anderson felt “lucky” to have a role on the show. The books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, upon which “Little House on the Prairie” is based, share the real-life story about the Ingalls family.

In the books, Mary hardly shows up at all. It’s funny, though, that Anderson is the only actor from that show to win an Emmy Award for her work.

“I’m lucky that there even was a character to play, because in the book, there isn’t much of one,” Anderson said. “Laura was a quite older woman when she wrote the books. She was remembering the best of her life. The characters of Ma and Mary didn’t factor in a lot.

“There was a lot of Laura and Pa and Laura and Jack the dog and Laura and Mr. Edwards, but there wasn’t a lot of Mary,” she said.

Anderson had to prove herself, starting at 9 years old, before other actors. Especially the show’s main star, TV legend Michael Landon.

“I couldn’t show (the writers) what I could do unless they wrote me something to do,” she said. “And they weren’t going to write me something to do until I showed them what I could do.”

Well, Anderson did prove herself enough to earn recognition from her peers in the television industry.