‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Sue Anderson Thinks One Physical Trait Helped Her Land Role as ‘Mary’

by Keeli Parkey
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“Little House on the Prairie” remains a beloved television show for countless fans. One of the most beloved characters on the show was Mary Ingalls played by Melissa Sue Anderson.

Fans enjoyed the strength of Mary’s character and watching her overcome challenges put in front of her. Because she was blind, living on the prairie with her family brought Mary obstacles that her sisters did not have to face.

Anderson gave a memorable performance as Mary Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie.” She was a regular cast member for the first seven seasons of the show, but only appeared in a few episodes during the show’s eighth season. The show originally aired on television from 1974 to 1983.

In an interview, Anderson said that approximately 200 other young actresses were being considered for the role. That field was narrowed down and the remaining “10 or so” actresses had a chance to meet Michael Landon and read lines with him.

Melissa Sue Anderson Auditioned with Melissa Gilbert for Role on Show

“Then, they narrowed that down a little bit more and we had screen tests,” Anderson said. “… I think I did scenes with Melissa Gilbert. … It seemed like a long time later – it was at least a week – before we heard anything.”

While Anderson thought her audition and screen test had gone well, she wasn’t sure she would get the part. But in the end, she was cast in “Little House on the Prairie.”

So, why was does Anderson think she was selected to play Mary Ingalls?

“I think they like my blue eyes,” Anderson said. “They thought I was very Mary with the blue eyes. So, I was happy. … It was fine, it was great.”

In addition to her eyes, Anderson agreed with the interviewer that her chemistry with Gilbert probably also helped her be cast in the show.

You can watch Melissa Sue Anderson talk about “Little House on the Prairie” below.

Melissa Sue Anderson Preferred ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Scripts to Books

For Melissa Sue Anderson, the scripts for “Little House on the Prairie” were better than the books that provided the source material for the classic television show.

While she in Chicago promoting her book, Anderson compared Wilder’s Books to the scripts created for the show. Anderon’s book is titled, “The Way I See It: A Look Back on My Life on Little House.”

At the time, HollywoodChicago.com asked Anderson if she would read the books while the show was being filmed. The publication also wanted to know if the books influenced how she approached the role of Mary.

“No,” Anderson reportedly said. “I read them when I was a kid before I got the series, but I think our scripts were – I hate to say it – better than the books.”

Anderson also said she preferred the scripts over the books because the scripts offered more character development than the books.

“They were certainly more interesting because the other characters were developed more fully on the show than they were in the books,” she said about the scripts for the show.

Outsider.com