Melissa Sue Anderson played Mary Ingalls Kendall on the 1970s TV show “Little House on the Prairie.” And she left well before the show ended in 1983.
In an interview with Little House Memories, Anderson shared that it both was and wasn’t difficult to leave the show around 1981.
“It would have been harder to leave if I hadn’t been blind on the show,” Anderson said. “But because of those limitations, it wasn’t as difficult to leave. I was working all the time in those days, doing Movies of the Week and the occasional feature film and some theatre work, so I had a pretty exciting career at that point.”
‘Little House on the Prairie’ Stars Didn’t Get Along
Anderson and Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls, reportedly had a cold to nonexistent relationship on the set of “Little House on the Prairie.” Both women later wrote memoirs, and Anderson left Gilbert out of hers.
But Anderson vigorously denied the rumors of bad blood between them, according to UPI. Both lived life in the fast lane as young women, with Anderson seriously dating Frank Sinatra Jr. and Gilbert going out with Rob Lowe. And Anderson claimed her departure from the show had nothing to do with Gilbert.
“The story is absolutely false that there has been any big blowup between me and Melissa and Alison [Arngram],” Anderson told UPI at the time. “Alison is leaving because of a contract disagreement with the producers. I’m leaving because there just isn’t much more that can be done with the blind character I play.”
“The writers have exhausted all the possibilities for Mary Ingalls Kendall,” she added. “First of all, she became blind. Then she had a miscarriage. She lost her mind. Another baby died in a fire… It is just a matter of moving on for me. I’ve done about everything I could do with the character.”
Anderson further said there was no truth to the rumors that she and Gilbert did not like one another. She was particularly incensed about a story claiming that she and Arngram were leaving because they resented Gilbert.
“I’ve never been jealous of Melissa. And she certainly hasn’t been jealous of me,” she said. “When I read the story I telephoned Melissa and we got together to talk about it. We laughed, but it really isn’t funny. It hurt us both.”
Anderson went on to star in a horror movie and was looking forward to more teen movie roles when she left “Little House on the Prairie.”