Melissa Sue Anderson was a really important character on Little House on the Prairie. She played Mary Ingalls for 162 episodes. Fans of the show loved her character and continued to well after the show ended.
Those who read the books and watched the show will know that Mary went blind about halfway through the story. In the television show, she went blind in season four.
Mary Ingalls was the oldest daughter in the family. In the book “By the Shores of Silver Lake,” all of the women in the household, except Laura, get scarlet fever. As the book describes, that was the reason that she went blind at the age of 14. Then, in the Little House on the Prairie TV show, the same thing happens, and her character went blind.
During an interview in 2007, Anderson talked about playing a blind girl on the show. She described her feelings when Michael Landon told her that she was going to be blind.
“I thought they were going to write me out,” the Little House on the Prairie star said. “I thought that will be it, I’ll go blind, and poof, I’ll be gone. What will I do?”
Melissa Sue Anderson Remembers Being Told She Would Be Going Blind In “Little House on the Prairie” in an Interesting Way
Anderson continued, “[Landon] said, ‘Trust me, it’ll be great. It’ll be the greatest thing that ever happened. Trust me.’” She gave a big eye roll and sighed but continued. “So, I have to then wait.”
“He told me that at the end of the third season. I had to then wait and wait and wait to find out what was really going to happen,” Anderson said. “And he was right. I mean, it made it great. Those shows, in particular, were great. I mean, they were terrific. We were number two the first week, and number two the second week of the two-part episode.”
Next, the Little House on the Prairie star explained that it was good for roughly another year or two. But, afterward, the writers on the show were finding it difficult to place her in scenes. They, more or less, ran out of ideas on what to do with her character. However, the show wanted to make sure that the audience didn’t forget about her.
“So they would put me in scenes that I didn’t really belong in,” Anderson said. “And I thought, I shouldn’t be here. This character is really a stretch.”
But, for the show, she explained that they had to put her in these scenes. As she explained, they needed to she still existed. She then said that it was an important decision for her to pull away from Little House on the Prairie. Anderson recalled how she didn’t want to be used essentially as an extra on the set.