Better.TV talks with Melissa Anderson about her role as a child star on Little House on the Prairie.
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Melissa Anderson on Life on Little House on the Prairie
Audra: You might recognize her as the sweet and wholesome beautiful girl from NBC’s long running hitch show. Little house on the Prairie, take a look.
And today we’ve got the Emmy Award Winning Actress and she’s all grown up. Melissa Sue Anderson is here in our studio to tell us about her life and her new book called, The Way I See It.
Good to have you here.
Melissa: Oh it’s great to be here. Thank you.
Audra: Good to have you too. I’m so happy that you’re here because, first of all, Little House on the Prairie was of those shows that every kid was allowed to watch when they were growing up.
Audra: It was an approved television show.
Audra: And now, to see you here, in person and looking at you from way then, you looked exactly the same. Oh my God! You look great.
Melissa: Thank you you’re being very kind.
Audra: This and you started the show when you were eleven right?
Melissa: Yes, yes.
Audra: So you were there fore about whether it’s 7, 8 years?
Melissa: I had this—I had a seven year contract and then I did two shows, two episodes the eight seasons and I left.
Melissa: Because my character was blind and boring by that time so I had to go.
Audra: We do have to talk about that too, because your character Mary Ingalls, did lose her eyesight, as she got older and I want to ask you how was it playing a character that’s blind. Obviously, you’re not blind but how difficult was it to do that?
Melissa: It was very difficult. I did a lot of research with the foundation for the junior blind. We also had teachers from there come to the set when on those two episodes, where my character actually did go blind, part one and part two. And it was a lot of work. There were a lot technical things, little things that needed to be done. How to pour a glass of water and not spill it because you have your finger in the cup to find out where the, you know, the top of the cup is going to hits and—
Melissa: And that a newly blinded person will almost always sit on their hand because they want to know the chair is there—
Melissa: And they shuffle their feet. They’re afraid, you know, they’re afraid of what’s in front of them.
Melissa: Ah, there’s lots of things and then as you get better, as you get use to it, you have to learn then how to walk with the cane and how to look like you can read brilliant and—
Audra: You were so convincing at it, too honestly a lot of people thought that you were blind and rely on whom is it.
Melissa: Yes, yes I mean I got letters from side of people and also from blind people that said how nice it was of the producers to write in my blindness into the show.
Audra: Wow, this is fantastic job that you did—
Melissa: Oh thank you.
Audra: And now you have a book called “The Way I See It”. Was this any play at all on that? Okay.
Melissa: Yes, yes it was.
Audra: I just wanted to ask you. This is really a look back at your life on the show and you have a lot of photos in there. What made you decide to put the book together?
Melissa: Well, I never thought of it, ever. Ah. But I was asked would I like to write a book and it was kind of funny because I thought oh probably just have me confused, because my husband is the writer in the family. And then I found out that no, no they were actually talking about me and it took a bit of convincing because I, you know, having never thought about it. I couldn’t imagine what I would write about and how I would do it.
Melissa: And I’m a very organized person. I need to know what I’m doing so I really —oh and then I also thought what a great idea and wonder why no ones ever done it. And then the next conversation was —and Melissa Gilbert is coming out with the book and I spoke there, you go.
Audra: And there’s a lot of great photos in here too and you said that your mom saved a lot clippings and thank God mom saved them because you were able to include them in the book.
Melissa: That’s right.
Audra: Ah, you live in Montreal now?
Melissa: I do.
Audra: With your husband and two kids?
Audra: You decided to move away?
Melissa: Well, that’s kind of a long story. My husband as I said is a writer producer.
Melissa: And a lot of his projects were Canadian content and he needed to be—in order for him to continue to be part of them, he really was advised become a Canadian or, you know, and become landed immigrant.
Melissa: And eventually then you do have to move to the country.
Melissa: Ah, and we chose Montreal because my children had already been educated in French and they could—I figured in Montreal they would actually use their French.
Melissa: They wouldn’t just learn it in school and then speak English at recess.
Melissa: So it’s worked out, it’s worked out. Wonderfully they’re at the school that represents like 72 different nationalities.
Audra: That’s great.
Melissa: I think it’s terrific and you know, it’s been a good experience. Audra: Oh, I’m so glad. It’s been a great experience having you here too seriously. Got to stick around, I am going to take some pictures and things like that too.
Melissa: Ah, thank you.
Audra: Congratulation on the book as well.
Melissa: Thank you.
Audra: And you guys have to make sure to pick up Melissa’s book. Again, it’s called The Way I See It and its available now.