‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Sue Anderson Explained Why She is ‘Constantly Surprised’ About Show

by Joe Rutland

“Little House on the Prairie” helped make actor Melissa Sue Anderson a household name. To this day, she remains surprised by its impact.

“It really is surprising to travel around and see all these people who love the show so much,” Anderson, who played Mary Ingalls on the NBC family drama, said. “I don’t know why I’m surprised, but when you’re part of it, you don’t think about it.

“I’m very happy to have been a part of something that’s so special to so many people,” she said in a 2010 interview with PopEntertainment.

Anderson was a part of “Little House on the Prairie” for seven seasons before leaving in 1981. The Mary Ingalls role called on Anderson to portray a blind character that truly stretched her acting talents.

Cast Members Didn’t Get Along With ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Costar

While she played Mary Ingalls, murmurs within the “Little House on the Prairie” cast around Anderson’s attitude were running wild.

Two of the show’s stars say that Anderson wasn’t always sweet and kind to be around.

Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie, wrote in her memoir “Confessions of a Prairie B—h” that Anderson didn’t like her or anybody.

“Her hair was not mixed dishwater blond like mine,” Arngrim wrote. “It was perfect, shining, yellow-white blond, like a Breck commercial. She was spectacular. ‘Oh crap,’ I thought. Girls like this always hated me. As if on cue, Melissa Sue Anderson turned to look at me, her huge, round blue eyes narrowing to slits.”

Melissa Gilbert, who starred as Laura Ingalls, also didn’t feel warm fuzzies around Anderson. Gilbert said, “There was a distance to her, a coldness, though sometimes I wonder if it was just that I never knew how to get her to let me in. She wasn’t easy to get along with. I think her reserve came across on-screen and was certainly apparent off-screen.”

Anderson Didn’t Like Show’s Scripts After Character Went Blind

As mentioned earlier, Anderson played Mary Ingalls, who lost her eyesight in the series. Anderson didn’t like any of the scripts of “Little House on the Prairie” put together when Mary was blind.

In her book, “The Way I See It,” Anderson said that writers failed to give her interesting storylines. She believed that playing Mary became “boring” and “soap opera-ish.”

“It wasn’t just the blind issue but also the period of the show,” Anderson said. “It was very limiting what you could or couldn’t do. I used to say I was blind and boring. Either I was just there not doing much or going through some tragedy. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

“Little House on the Prairie” was set in the 1870s. It was not a modern show by any means. So Anderson found her role lackluster and left the series. Probably some people associated with the show didn’t mind seeing her leave at all. Yet her contributions to the show remain in the hearts of its fans to this day.