Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson (born September 26, 1962) is an American-Canadian actress. She began her career as a child actress after appearing in several commercials in Los Angeles. Anderson is known for her role as Mary Ingalls in the NBC drama series Little House on the Prairie (1974–1981), for which she received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Melissa Sue Anderson
1974 Melissa Sue Anderson Little House on the Prairie.jpg
Anderson as Mary Ingalls in
Little House on the Prairie, 1974
Born (1962-09-26) September 26, 1962 (age 59)
CitizenshipAmerican, Canadian
Years active1972–present
Michael Sloan
(m. 1990)

She is also known for film roles that include Vivian in Midnight Offerings (1981),[1] Ginny in the slasher film Happy Birthday to Me (1981),[2] and Alex in the ABC Afterschool Special, Which Mother Is Mine? (1979).[3]

Anderson became a naturalized citizen of Canada in 2007. In 2010, she published The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House, an autobiographical account of her years acting in Little House on the Prairie.

Early lifeEdit

Anderson was born on September 26, 1962, in Berkeley, California,[4] the second of two daughters, to James and Marion Anderson.[5] Her sister, Maureen, is twelve years her senior.[5] When she was seven years old, Anderson's family relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles.[5] Her parents divorced when she was thirteen years old, and she was raised Roman Catholic by her mother.[5] As a young child, Anderson appeared in commercials for Mattel and Sears.[5]


Anderson's showbusiness career began when a dance teacher urged her parents to find an agent for her.[6] After appearing in commercials, she was soon in demand for television roles. Her first came in a 1972 episode of Bewitched titled "Tabitha's First Day of School". Another memorable early role was as Millicent, a girl who kissed Bobby in The Brady Bunch. She also appeared in an episode of Shaft the same year.[5]

At the age of eleven, Anderson landed the role of Mary Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. She would go on to star in the series for eight seasons, beginning in 1974, and leaving after season seven; she later appeared in three episodes of season eight in late 1981.

Anderson with Lance Kerwin in the television film James at 15 (1977)

In 1976, Michael Landon asked Anderson if she would appear in his autobiographical film The Loneliest Runner. Anderson agreed to play Nancy Rizzi, the first girlfriend of John Curtis (based on Landon and played by Lance Kerwin), saying she was very thrilled to have been asked.[7] In 1977, she once again co-starred as the love interest opposite Kerwin in the television film James at 15.

She was nominated for a 1978 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress in a Drama Series for her work on Little House on the Prairie and won the Emmy Award for her performance in Which Mother Is Mine?, which aired as an ABC Afterschool Special in 1979. Also in 1979, she played the title role of Dana Lee Gilbert, a North Dakota transfer student to Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley in CBS's television film Survival of Dana.

In 1980, Anderson earned a 'TP de Oro' Award (considered to be Spain's most prestigious award for television) for 'Best Foreign Actress' for her role in Little House on the Prairie. This followed a successful visit to Spain in 1979 to appear as a guest on RTVE's program, 625 Lineas. In 1981, she earned a Young Artist Award nomination for her performance in the Canadian slasher film Happy Birthday to Me.[8] After leaving Little House, she continued acting in television series like The Equalizer, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, CHiPs and Murder, She Wrote, and was the associate producer for the next-to-last television project Michael Landon made before dying: Where Pigeons Go to Die (1990).[9]

In 1998, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1999, she starred alongside Heather Langenkamp in the short-lived television series Partners. In 2014, Anderson had an uncredited appearance as Stosh's mother in the neo-noir mystery comedy drama film Veronica Mars (2014).[10]

Other venturesEdit

In 2010, Anderson released an autobiography titled The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House.[10] The book, which is primarily based on her life during her years as a child star in Little House on the Prairie, contains behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes about the show itself, its stars, guest stars, and crew members. The autobiography also covers her pre- and post-Little House career, her side-projects during the Little House years and how her personal life was affected by her career.

Personal lifeEdit

Anderson married television writer and producer Michael Sloan (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Equalizer and others) in 1990.[11] The couple has two children, daughter Piper and son Griffin.[12] The family moved to Montreal in 2002 and became naturalized Canadians on Canada Day in 2007.[12][13]



Year Title Role Notes
1972 Bewitched Girl Episode: "Tabitha's First Day of School"
1973 The Brady Bunch Millicent Episode: "Never Too Young"
1973 Shaft Cathy Muder (uncredited) Episode: "The Enforcers"
1974–81 Little House on the Prairie Mary Ingalls Main role
1976 The Loneliest Runner Nancy Rizzi Movie
1977 James at 15 Lacey Stevens Episode: "Pilot"
1977 ABC Afterschool Special Kate Episode: "Very Good Friends"
1978 The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour Director of the musical Episode #2
The Love Boat Jennifer 'Chubs' Smith / Cindy Jerome / Cathy Cummings / Dana Colton 4 episodes
1979 Survival of Dana Dana Lee Gilbert Movie
1979 ABC Afterschool Special Alexandria 'Alex' Benton Episode: "Which Mother Is Mine?"
1979 A New Kind of Family Lisa Episode: "The Overcharge"
1979 CHiPs Herself Episode: "Roller Disco" (Part 2)
1980 Fantasy Island Amy Marson Episode: "Rogues to Riches/Stark Terror"
1980 Insight Mary Beth Episode: "Princess"
1981 Midnight Offerings Vivian Sotherland Movie
1981 Advice to the Lovelorn Maureen Tyler Movie
1982 An Innocent Love Molly Rush Movie
1982/83 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Katherine 'Kitty' Pryde / Sprite (voice) Episodes: "The Origin of Iceman", "The X-Men Adventure"
1983 First Affair Toby King Movie
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Nikki Gatos Episode: "Pilot"
1984 Murder, She Wrote Eve Crystal Episode: "Hooray for Homicide"
1984 Glitter Elizabeth Episode: "A Minor Miracle"
1984/85 Hotel Cassie Ray / Anne Goldman Episodes: "Lifelines", "Imperfect Union"
1986 Dark Mansions Noelle Drake Movie
1987–88 The Equalizer Yvette Marcel 4 episodes
1988/89 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Laura Donovan / Julie Fenton Episodes: "VCR – Very Careful Rape", "Murder in Mind"
1989 Memories of Manon Yvette Marcel Movie
1989 The Return of Sam McCloud Colleen McCloud Movie
1993/94 X-Men Snowbird (voice) Episodes: "Repo Man", "Phoenix Saga, Part 5: Child of Light"
1994 Burke's Law Michelle Ryder Episode: "Who Killed Alexander the Great?"
1998 Earthquake in New York Dr. Marilyn Blake Movie
1999 Partners Cheryl Darrin 3 episodes
2000 Thin Ice Tanya Ferguson Movie
2006 10.5: Apocalypse First Lady Megan Hollister Miniseries
2007 Marco Polo Mother Voice role (uncredited)[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Happy Birthday to Me Virginia Wainwright
1984 Goma-2 Kukki Uncredited[citation needed]
1984 Chattanooga Choo Choo Jennie
1988 The Suicide Club Laura Donovan on TV
1988 Far North Young Nurse
1989 Looking Your Best
1990 Dead Men Don't Die Dulcie Niles
1991 Manuel
1994 Animated Stories from the Bible: Music Video – Volume 1 Snake Video; voice role
1995 Killer Lady American Lady
2006 Crazy Eights Hospital Patient Uncredited[citation needed]
2010 Marker 187 Short film
2014 Veronica Mars Stosh's Mother Uncredited[10]
2018 The Con Is On Guest Two


  1. ^ O'Conner, John (February 28, 1981). "'Offerings' show tackles burning issue of witches". Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel.
  2. ^ Johnson, Malcolm L. (May 19, 1981). "'Happy Birthday to Me' Plot Lacking, but Gore Plentiful". Hartford Courant.
  3. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (June 5, 1980). "Donahue Tops Daytime Emmys". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Lynch, Tom (2002). Screen World 2002. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 321. ISBN 978-1-557-83598-7.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Gritten, David (June 1, 1981). "With Dates Like Sinatra Junior Melissa Sue Anderson Is Outgrowing Her 'little House'". People. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  6. ^ Miley, Scott (September 14, 1979). "Melissa Anderson's role challenging". Anderson Daily Bulletin.
  7. ^ "Bed-wetting is a problem for 'The Lonliest Runner'". The Tampa Times. December 26, 1980.
  8. ^ "3rd Youth In Film Awards". Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  9. ^ Hill, Michael E. (January 28, 1990). "Michael Landon". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Potts, Kimberly (October 15, 2015). "'Little House on the Prairie' Cast: Where Are They Now?". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  11. ^ Ho, Rodney (November 1, 2016). "Interview with Melissa Sue Anderson, Mary on 'Little House on the Prairie'". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Melissa Sue Anderson". A&E Television Networks. April 17, 2019 [Original Published Date: April 28, 2015]. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Magder, Jason; Hashmi, Sikander (July 2, 2007). "Big day for newest Canadians: Citizenship Ceremonies 'Multicultural village' shows off diversity". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved November 24, 2017.

Further readingEdit

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 5-6.

External linksEdit