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Little House on the Prairie

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Ingalls

Melissa Sue Anderson is a native of California. Born Sept. 26, 1962 in Berkeley, her show-business career began as a young girl performing in commercials. The experience gave her the exposure she needed to become a young actress in demand. She enjoyed a successful acting career with roles in a variety of projects, including The Brady Bunch (1969) and Shaft (1973). In 1974, Anderson won the role as oldest sibling Mary in Little House on the Prairie. Her performance had audiences and critics impressed with her role as a gentle, studious and loyal member of the Ingalls household. Her strong performance as a blind woman learning to live with her disability earned her an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama in 1978.

After leaving the series in 1981, Anderson continued her acting career and has been seen in numerous projects including Dead Men Don't Die (1991), Earthquake in New York (1998) and Thin Ice (2000). Anderson moved to Montreal in 2002, and is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada. Her work on Little House on the Prairie was honored in 2006, when she was included in the series 100 Greatest Teen Stars  which included many Hollywood stars including Tom Cruise and John Cusack. In 2010 she released a book about her most impressionable TV experience, The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House.

Character Bio

As the oldest daughter, Mary Ingalls is very responsible and tries to be a model child and big sister. As one of the prettiest girls in town, Mary is very popular with the boys of Walnut Grove. Studious and academically smart, things often came easy for her. In spite of her book smarts and good looks, Mary was also faced with the responsibility of doing her chores around the house. Like her little sister, Laura, Mary is committed to the well-being of her family and making sure that they're treated fairly. The ease of her life is abruptly interrupted when an illness leaves her blind. She is faced with a new and unfamiliar set of challenges, but Mary's determination and ability to excel help her overcome her new adversity.