Filming a television show set in the American West must have had its challenges, especially when filming on location. In fact, this was a major concern for “Little House on the Prairie” actress Melissa Sue Anderson. Anderson played Mary Ingalls on the show.
Anderson got a quick lesson in the challenges associated with filming on location while filming her first episode of “Little House on the Prairie.” She talked about this and more in a video interview.
“So, we did do a lot of it on location … we were in Stockton, California, that rains and rains, and it was winter. … ” Anderson recalled. “It was cold … The excitement made it all worth it. But, it was different; it was hard. But, overall, a very great learning experience, and I was happy to do it. It was fun.”
Thanks to the success of the “Little House on the Prairie” pilot, the show was picked up by NBC in 1974. So, Anderson and the rest of the cast began filming the show a few months later. Filming took place on location in Simi Valley. It was there where the town of Walnut Grove had been constructed for filming the show.
This location caused some concerns for the young actress.
“My greatest concern was that I had asthma as a kid for, well, many years,” she recalled. “I was certainly on allergy shots for seven-and-a-half years. I was concerned that the grass and the pollen and the winds out there – that my allergies would be terrible. But, Michael Landon liked to say that it was psychosomatic – that I was happy now and it went away.”
While she seemed to enjoy her television father’s wisdom, Anderson ultimately gives credit to the allergy shots she took for so long for keeping her allergies under control.
Another Location Was First Chosen to Shoot Walnut Grove on ‘Little House on the Prairie’
According to Melissa Sue Anderson, Simi Valley was not the first location the people behind “Little House on the Prairie” planned to build and shoot Walnut Grove.
“Well, we had a problem with that, too,” Anderson recalled. “In the beginning, they had made a deal in a place called Woodland Hills, California, in the Valley, that would have been a lot closer into Hollywood. It wouldn’t have been quite so far as Simi Valley was to go.”
Anderson said the Woodland Hills location wasn’t used because it didn’t have as much land as the Simi Valley location. “And, they had a big neighbor problem,” she added. “The neighbors said, ‘no, absolutely not’.”
So, Simi Valley was selected as the location for Walnut Grove for “Little House on the Prairie.” The Simi Valley location did have its benefits, according to Anderson.
“Simi Valley being farther out (from Hollywood) there was less going on – less construction, less new construction going up and all that,” she said. “So, it ultimately worked out for the best that that happened.”
You can watch Melissa Sue Anderson talk about her time on “Little House on the Prairie” below.