Little House on the Prairie: Where Are They Now?

Little House on the Prairie is a beloved drama series that captures the hearts of an entire generation of TV viewers. The show, centered around the Ingalls family’s experiences at the turn of the 20th century, has a large ensemble of endearing characters and memorable performances. It’s no wonder that viewers often find themselves wondering, “Where are they now?”

One of the performers who left show business behind is Melissa Sue Anderson, who portrayed the character of Mary Ingalls on the program. Recently, she opened up about why she decided to depart from Hollywood and step out of the spotlight.

Melissa Sue Anderson was born on September 26, 1962, in Berkeley, California. Even as a child, she was introverted and preferred books over climbing trees. However, her striking blue eyes and stage presence caught the attention of everyone around her, leading one of her dance instructors to suggest that her parents explore her talent through an agency.

Starting as a child actress, Anderson appeared in shows like The Brady Bunch and Bewitched, where she even gave Bobby his first kiss. However, it was her role as Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie that became her big break and defining role. She starred in the show for the first seven seasons and had guest appearances in the remaining eight seasons. Anderson’s performance even earned her a nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

In an interview from her home in Montreal, Anderson reflects on her character, saying, “I’m lucky that there even was a character to play because in the book, there isn’t much of one. Laura Ingalls was remembering the best of her life when she wrote the books, and the characters of Ma and Mary didn’t play significant roles. Fortunately, they discovered that I could act, and I am grateful for that.”

However, Anderson’s rise to fame as one of the nation’s most recognizable faces wasn’t easy, especially since she was still in high school at the time. She faced curious classmates who asked inappropriate questions about her earnings. Anderson dealt with these situations by giving a look that conveyed her feelings or simply stating that it was none of their business.

Contrary to popular belief, Anderson reveals that actors don’t necessarily make a lot of money. She mentions that a significant portion of her pay went into a trust fund, she had to allocate 10 percent to her agent, and she spent a substantial amount on her fan club. Additionally, she had to pay her mother for accompanying her to the set. Despite the challenges, Anderson made a lasting impact with her role on Little House on the Prairie.

The show’s popularity and enduring legacy can be attributed to its beloved characters and the performances of the actors who brought them to life. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls, became a household name, and veteran actor Michael Landon’s portrayal of the family’s patriarch, Charles Ingalls, became his most iconic role.

The on-screen chemistry between the actors was so strong that it felt like they were a real family. Although the co-stars spent a lot of time together off-screen, not all of them got along. Melissa Gilbert once shared her true feelings about the actress who played Mary Ingalls, stating that she found her to be difficult and mean.

After Little House on the Prairie ended, Melissa Sue Anderson continued her acting career with various television movies. However, like many child and teen actors, she struggled to find another role with the same level of notoriety. Despite this, Anderson found solace and support in her friendship with Frank Sinatra Jr., who stood by her side during her early career.

Melissa Sue Anderson eventually married television producer Michael Sloan, and they have two children together. She decided to become a Canadian citizen to prioritize her family life, and they relocated to Montreal in 2002. Although she stepped away from the entertainment industry for some time to spend more time with her children, Anderson has made a comeback to the spotlight with smaller TV and film roles.

Looking back at her time on Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Sue Anderson penned a memoir titled “The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House.” In it, she reflects on her experiences and the impact the show had on her life.

In conclusion, Melissa Sue Anderson, who charmed viewers as Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, has transitioned from her Hollywood days but continues to lead a fulfilling life. Her story is a testament to the challenges and triumphs that come with being in the spotlight. And for fans of the show, it’s always heartwarming to hear that our favorite cast members are doing well.