Little House on the Prairie

‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Sue Anderson Portrayed Michael Landon’s First Love in His Autobiography

During the successful television run of “Little House on the Prairie,” the show’s star asked one of the younger actors on the show to perform in a movie about his life.

That star was Michael Landon. He played Charles Ingalls, the patriarch of the Ingalls family. It was actress Melissa Sue Anderson who had the good fortune of appearing in Landon’s autobiographical movie. Anderson played Mary Ingalls on the family drama. According to, she appeared on the show from 1974 until 1981. The show was on the air until 1983.

The actress discussed “Little House on the Prairie” and Landon’s television movie during a recorded interview. She said it was in 1976 that she appeared in the film. It was titled “The Loneliest Runner.” Anderson played a very memorable person in Landon’s life.

“I think (Michael Landon) just said to me, uh, one day, ‘Would you like to do this? There’s a perfect part for you. I’d like you to play my first girlfriend, Nancy Rizzi. And, you’d be perfect for it.’ I said, ‘Sure.’”

In fact, landing the role was an exciting moment for the young “Little House on the Prairie” actress.

“I was thrilled,” she also said.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Was Surprised She Was Cast in Landon’s Autobiographical Movie

Melissa Sue Anderson also said during that interview that one reason she was so excited to appear in Michael Landon’s autobiographical television movie was due to the fact that those in charge of “Little House on the Prairie” restricted the roles actors on the show could take.

“I was very happy that he asked me – that he would go ahead and take me from ‘Little House’ and let me play a completely different role,” Anderson recalled. “Because there were always problems about things like that where they wouldn’t want us to be seen outside of our characters a lot of the time.”

In fact, according to Anderson, actors on “Little House on the Prairie” had to get permission to appear in other projects.

“We had to be very careful. Everything had to be okayed,” she also said. “All the movies that I did had to be okayed with the network so that they wouldn’t feel that they were losing their Mary Ingalls to some other character …”

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