Melissa Sue Anderson, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star, Opens Up About Her Decision to Depart Hollywood for Canada

A cherished generation of television viewers holds fond memories of “Little House on the Prairie,” the timeless drama series chronicling the Ingalls family’s adventures during the late 19th century.

With its notable ensemble of characters and performances, the show often sparks curiosity, prompting many to inquire, “Where are they now?”

Among the cast members, Melissa Sue Anderson, who portrayed Mary Ingalls, stands out as an actress who has shifted away from the limelight. Recently, she opened up about her decision to distance herself from Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Born on September 26, 1962, in Berkeley, California, Melissa Sue Anderson’s early years saw her as a reserved girl, favoring reading over climbing trees.

Nonetheless, her distinct talent for performing on stage became evident to those around her. Encouraged by one of her dance instructors, her parents connected with an agent. Anderson, an exceptional student, embarked on her journey as a child actress, securing guest roles in sitcoms like “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch,” where she portrayed Millicent, the girl who bestowed Bobby with his first kiss.

Yet, it was her breakthrough role as Mary Ingalls on “Little House” that marked a significant turning point in her career. She featured prominently in the first seven seasons and made occasional appearances in the final eighth season. Her portrayal earned her a nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Reflecting on her role, Anderson commented, “I feel fortunate that there was even a character to portray. In the original books, the character wasn’t as developed. Laura Ingalls, the author, wrote about the highlights of her life, with less emphasis on Ma and Mary. I was fortunate that my acting abilities were recognized.”

Transitioning into the role of a well-known face nationwide wasn’t without its challenges. Anderson recounted instances of curious classmates asking intrusive questions about her earnings, leading her to handle such inquiries with grace and subtlety.

Throughout her Hollywood career, Anderson amassed an estimated $1.5 million, as per Celebrity Net Worth. However, during her tenure on “Little House,” her salary wasn’t as substantial. She discussed the various financial obligations that often go unnoticed, including trust funds, agent fees, and fan club expenses.

The enduring success of “Little House on the Prairie” can be attributed to its beloved characters and the actors who portrayed them, many of whom attained fame thanks to the show. The series propelled budding actors like Melissa Gilbert Sue to stardom, while seasoned actor Michael Landon found his defining role as Charles Ingalls.

The chemistry amongst the cast created the illusion of a genuine family, and off-screen, the co-stars shared a significant presence in each other’s lives for years. However, conflicts occasionally arose behind the scenes, as Melissa Gilbert candidly revealed her mixed feelings about her on-screen sister.

Following the conclusion of “Little House,” Anderson’s career continued with television films like “Which Mother is Mine?” and “Survival of Dana.” While she remained active in the industry, she never experienced a role as high-profile as Mary Ingalls.

In the 1980s, Melissa Sue Anderson briefly dated Frank Sinatra Jr., whom she met while guest-starring on “The Love Boat.” Their alleged romance garnered attention, but Anderson downplayed it, emphasizing their strong friendship.

In 1990, she married television producer Michael Sloan, and together, they have two children. The responsibilities of family life prompted Anderson to make a significant life choice: becoming a Canadian citizen. The family relocated to Montreal in 2002 and attained citizenship in 2007. Anderson revealed her reasons for stepping back from show business, highlighting her desire to give her children space to discover their identities rather than being pressured into the spotlight.

Despite her hiatus, Anderson has reemerged in smaller TV and film roles. At 60 years old, she authored a memoir titled “The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House,” offering insights into her experiences on the show.

Melissa Sue Anderson’s enduring charm, authenticity, and humility make her stand out as a down-to-earth individual in an industry often associated with artificiality. Her journey is a testament to the enduring intrigue surrounding the lives of beloved stars from our cherished shows. In light of her continued well-being, fans of “Little House on the Prairie” are sure to find solace in her story.

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