A whole generation of TV viewers fondly remember Little House on the Prairie, the classic drama series about the adventures of the Ingalls family throughout the end of the 19th century.
With a big cast of memorable characters and performances, it’s a show that often leaves people wondering “where are they now?”
Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary Ingalls on the show, was one of the actors who left showbiz behind: she recently revealed why she moved away from Hollywood and became a Canadian citizen.
Anderson began her career as a child actress, appearing on guests roles on sitcoms like Bewitched and The Brady Bunch, where she played Millicent, the girl who gave Bobby his first kiss.
But she got her big break, and defining role, after getting cast on Little House as Mary Ingalls, one of the central characters.
She starred in the first seven seasons and made guest appearances in the final eight season.
She received a nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
“I’m lucky that there even was a character to play, because in the book, there isn’t much of one,” she tells me from her home in Montreal. “Laura [Ingalls, author of the Little House novels upon which the series was based and the story was centered] was a quite older woman when she wrote the books. She was remembering the best of her life. The characters of Ma and Mary didn’t factor in a lot. There was a lot of Laura and Pa and Laura and Jack the dog and Laura and Mr. Edwards, but there wasn’t a lot of Mary. I’m fortunate that they discovered that I could act,” Anderson told Pop Entertainment in 2010.
After Prairie ended her biggest roles came in television films like Which Mother is Mine? and Survival of Dana.
Lance Kerwin and actress Melissa Sue Anderson promoting the NBC television film James at 15, which aired Monday September 5, 1977.
She continued working, but like most child and teen stars, she never found such a high-profile role as she had on Little House.
Melissa Sue Anderson today
But in 1990, she married television producer Michael Sloan. They have a daughter named Piper and a son named Griffin.
Family life led to her making a huge life decision: becoming a Canadian citizen. The family moved to Montreal in 2002 and became naturalized citizens in 2007.
Melissa Anderson with her daughter Piper (Twitter)
“The whole family is Canadian exactly now, and my husband and I had to take the test, and we studied and studied and studied,” she said in an interview with E-Talk.
She also revealed she wanted to step away from show business as her kids were growing up, not just to spend time with them but to avoid pressuring them into becoming child stars themselves.
Melissa Anderson with her husband (Twitter)
“I really stepped away for a long time,” she said. “That was really for the kids so they would have their own sense of who they were as opposed to being with me.”
She said that her kids now have no interest in acting, but she has stepped back into the spotlight, appearing in small TV and movie roles.
She also wrote a memoir of her experiences on Little House on the Prairie, titled The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House.
It’s always fascinating to hear what the stars of our old favorite shows are up to. Glad Melissa Sue Anderson is still doing well!
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