Little House on the Prairie ran from 1974 to 1983 and was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. Melissa Sue Anderson starred as Mary Ingalls Kendall and Michael Landon played her character’s father Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.
In 2010, Anderson published a memoir titled The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House. The memoir details her experience working on Little House on the Prairie for eight seasons.
Melissa Sue Anderson was nominated for an Emmy
Little House on the Prairie was about the Ingalls family and their life on a farm near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Anderson’s character Mary is the oldest child of the Ingalls family.
In the fourth season of the TV show, Mary goes blind. Anderson went on to be nominated for a 1978 Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress in a Drama Series.
“I went to the Foundation for the Junior Blind, for specific instructions on how a young person adjusts to recent blindness,” Anderson told the Albany Daily News. “It was the only time in the history of television that a series regular had lost their sight and not gotten it back… ever. Therefore, it was exciting and challenging at the beginning… but a very difficult thing to sustain over a period of years.”
While Anderson was the only cast member to be nominated for an Emmy Award for Little House on the Prairie, she chose to leave the show after eight seasons.
“As far as what Mary could do, my character became limited because she couldn’t see… This, ultimately, is the reason why I decided not to stay with the show and only do three episodes in the eighth season,” she said.
Melissa Sue Anderson wrote a memoir about her time on ‘Little House on the Prairie’
In 2010, Anderson published The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed Anderson about the book, and she revealed that she wrote the memoir using a pen and paper. After she physically wrote it, her husband transcribed it.
“That’s how Michael Landon wrote scripts,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In the memoir, Anderson describes her time on Little House on the Prairie. While she did talk about Landon in the book, she did not mention Melissa Gilbert, who starred as the central character Laura Ingalls Wilder.
“I honestly do not have a lot of memories of the two of us,” Anderson said. “We were very, very different.”
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In her interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Anderson went into more detail about why she decided to leave the show. The show was set in the 1870s, and Anderson found the trauma her character had to go through to make the show interesting made things difficult.
“It wasn’t just the blind issue but also the period of the show,” she said. “It was very limiting what you could or couldn’t do. I used to say I was blind and boring. Either I was just there not doing much or going through some tragedy. I couldn’t take it anymore. It became too soap opera-ish.”