‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Shot Back at Critics of Mary Ingalls’ Blindness Arc

by Clayton Edwards

Little House on the Prairie gave its viewers some really memorable storylines. Among the most memorable of those was Mary Ingalls’ blindness.

The blindness arc started in season four. Mary caught scarlet fever and it took her vision. After that, she went to a school for the blind far from her Walnut Grove home. While there, she met the man that would be her husband. Melissa Sue Anderson, who portrayed Mary, gave a stellar performance. She portrayed the sorrow, anger, and hardship that came with losing her vision so well that she was nominated for an Emmy award. However, some viewers and critics disliked the fact that Mary suddenly went blind.

Many critics spoke out against the blindness arc on Little House on the Prairie. To some, it seemed as if Michael Landon had made the decision on a whim just to add drama to the show. The arc did bring drama to the show. The blindness arc served a larger purpose than that, though.

Back in 1978, right after the blindness arc on Little House on the Prairie started, Michael Landon sat down with Barbara Walters to talk about the show and his life. During that interview, he briefly defended the decision to make Mary blind.

Michael Landon Defends ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Blindness Arc

In the interview, Barbara Walters gave a brief overview of Little House on the Prairie to bring her audience up to speed. During that introduction, they show the clip of the moment that Pa Ingalls learns that his eldest daughter is going blind. Then, Barbara Walters asked the question that so many fans of the show wanted to know the answer to.

“Why did Mary go blind?”

The Little House on the Prairie patriarch was prepared for the question. It didn’t take him long to answer the question.

Landon noted that several critics thought that Mary’s blindness was just a whim he had. However, Landon added, “Those are people who have not read the books.” Mary Ingalls did, in fact, go blind. This was in real life as well as in the Little House on the Prairie books. He went on to say, ”Certain things that have happened to that family, I felt, we should stay true to and follow through with as far as their character is concerned.”

Landon concluded, “Things happen in families. Everybody doesn’t get well. There isn’t going to be any miracle.”