Little House on the Prairie

‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Melissa Sue Anderson Remained a ‘Great Mystery’ to Her Cast Mates

For most of the stars on Little House on the Prairie, their experience on the TV show was a form of escapism. Most of the kids on the series came from troubled home lives, and the Ingalls were like an extended version of the family they never had. And although most of the cast members are eternally grateful for their roles and will do anything to show their support, there is one cast member who couldn’t wait to quit the series as soon as humanly possible.

According to Alison Arngrim, who plays Nellie Oleson on Little House, there was one actor who never tried to make friends with her fellow cast mates. She says that Melissa Sue Anderson remained a great mystery throughout the filming process, and that she never once got the chance to bond with her.

Melissa Sue Anderson quit her role on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ as Mary Ingalls because she ‘couldn’t take it anymore’

After multiple seasons of playing Mary Ingalls, Anderson got to a point where she couldn’t take it anymore. She was done playing a character who was continually facing tragedy after tragedy. Not only did her character go blind, but she also experienced the death of her child. It was just too much to handle. On another note, Anderson believed the show got too “soap opera-ish.”

“It wasn’t just the blind issue, but also the time period of the show,” she said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “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.”

Mary Ingalls actor avoided most of her co-stars on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls
Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls | NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

According to Arngrim, Anderson was extremely aloof while filming the series, and she would practically ignore everyone on set. Whenever she’d cheerily say “good morning” to Anderson, her co-star would respond with a cold stare or a grunt. Sometimes, according to Arngrim’s tell-all memoir, Anderson would flat out ignore her.

And Arngrim wasn’t the only one who thought so. As Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) reveals in her memoir, Prairie Tale, Anderson was “difficult to get along with.”

“There was a distance to her, a coldness,” said Gilbert. “Though sometimes I wonder if it was just that I never knew how to get her to let me in. She wasn’t easy to get along with. I think her reserve came across on-screen and was certainly apparent offscreen, whereas I wore my emotions as if they were a neon green T-shirt that glowed in the dark.”

Alison Arngrim claims she never once went to Melissa Sue Anderson’s house

Apparently, Anderson didn’t show up on set to make friends. She kept her distance from all the other castmates, and it got to the point where she became one big mystery to everyone else on set.

“Melissa Sue Anderson continued to remain a mystery,” Arngrim writes. “The entire time I was on the show, I never went to her house, and she never came to mine. I had no idea where she lived. For all I know, she could have lived in a tree.”

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