Melissa Sue Anderson is best known for playing the challenging role of Mary Ingalls on NBC's Little House on the Prairie, easily one of the most popular shows during the 70s. But where has Anderson been in the decades since the iconic show ended?
The actress was born in Berkeley, California, and grew up acting in commercials at a young age. Her TV career began after booking appearances on Bewitched, playing Bobby Brady's first kiss Millicent on The Brady Bunch, and Shaft before she landed the role of Mary, Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister and daughter of Michael Landon's character, Pa on Little House.
"I'm lucky that there even was a character to play because, in the book, there isn't much of one. Laura [Ingalls] 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.
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Anderson really brought the role of Mary. After Mary goes blind, she goes on to become a teacher and marry another blind teacher, Adam Kendall (played by Linwood Boomer). This was different from the real life Mary, but the enhanced story really resonated with viewers. She helped champion actors portraying blind characters in television and was even nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress in a Drama Series. Mary Ingalls Kendall was a central character to the show in the first seven seasons and made guest appearances in the eighth, by which time Anderson needed a break. Like co-stars Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim, Anderson grew up on the show for the world to see. She even wrote a book about it in 2010, The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House.
Like many child actors, Anderson realized that, as an adult, she wanted to focus on her family. She had continued acting, appearing in shows and films like Midnight Offerings, The Loneliest Runner, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and CHiPs, but wanted her children to have the opportunity to grow up away from Hollywood to create their own identities outside of her career. So she and her husband, TV producer Michael Sloan, moved with their two children, son Griffin and daughter Piper, up to Canada.
"The whole family is Canadian now, and my husband and I had to take the test, and we studied and studied and studied." She told E-Talk. Anderson even joked that when she found out her husband was at an age exempt from taking the Canadian citizenship written test, she didn't tell him because she didn't want to lose her study buddy.
-- Melissa Anderson (@MelissAnderson) November 25, 2016
"I really stepped away (from acting) for a long time," she explained."I was completely retired for five, six, seven years, and then I've done little tiny things since but that was really for the kids so they would have their own sense of who they were as opposed to being with me."
Though the family is happily based in Montreal these days, Anderson has continued making occasional acting appearances. She has been in The Equalizer, The Return of Sam McCloud, 10.5: Apocalypse, Veronica Mars, The Con Is On and Far North. Her children have opted for life outside of the spotlight and didn't follow their mother's footsteps in front of the camera. They also grew up speaking fluent French, how cool is that?
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