Where to begin with poor Mary? From rabid raccoons and bratty classmates to the worst of natural disasters seeming to have it out for her personally, Melissa Sue Anderson’s older sister to Laura was never out of trouble for long. And don’t even get us started on her (true to the character’s real-life) blindness!
Yet despite it all, Anderson is nothing but grateful for the experience. In fact, a 2010 interview between the actor and PopEntertainment reveals she felt “fortunate that they discovered that I could act.”
These are beyond modest words from the Mary Ingalls star. Remarkably, she would be the only actor to win an Emmy for her work in the series. She was the only to ever see nomination, too.
“I’m lucky that there even was a character to play, because in the book, there isn’t much of one,” Anderson continued to the trade. “Laura [Ingalls, author of the Little House novels upon which the series was based and the story was centered] 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 reveals.
‘Little House on the Prairie’s Unlucky Lady
That Emmy win and each of Mary’s subsequent troubles on the show, however, weren’t just given to Anderson. Starting at the young age of 9, she had to prove herself as an actor before giants like Michael Landon.
“I couldn’t show [the writers] what I could do unless they wrote me something to do,” she clarified to PopEntertainment. “And they weren’t going to write me something to do until I showed them what I could do.”
Thankfully, Anderson says she was able to prove herself within the first year and season of ‘Little House on the Prairie.’
“Then I got some really great, meaty episodes,” she revealed.
Many of those meaty episodes involved her leading co-star Michael Landon, too. And sometimes, these on-screen relationships – such as with Pa and Mary – can heavily mirror that of what actors experience off-screen. Melissa Sue Anderson adds in the same interview that this was, in fact, the case.
“When you hold someone in such high esteem, you can’t believe it when they fall,” she told the trade of her relationship with Landon. “And I don’t think I was the only one. But it taught me a great lesson very early on that I had to work with him every day, no matter what.”