In 1980, Melissa won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming playing Alexandria Benton on ABC Afterschool Special: Which Mother is Mine?.
After filming the pilot movie for Little House on the Prairie in 1974, Melissa was chosen to play the lead role in the film Escape to Witch Mountain. She planned on getting horseback riding lessons and even endured extensive schooling sessions to make up for the work she would miss while filming the movie. However, when Little House was picked up as a full television series, Melissa had to leave the film project and be replaced by Kim Richards.
When Melissa landed the role of Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, she was told that her face looked too "well-fed" for a young girl growing up in the prairie days, and she needed to lose five pounds, even though she was at a healthy weight. Melissa and her mother went to her pediatrician to learn how to do this properly, and she did it by eliminating juices, sugary foods, and McDonald's from her diet.
In 2009, Melissa Sue's Little House on the Prairie co-star Melissa Gilbert published a memoir named Prairie Tale. While discussing her experiences filming the show, Gilbert acknowledged that Melissa Sue had a certain "distance" and "coldness" to her, and that she was very difficult to get along with. In fact, at the very end of the book, Gilbert published all the titles that people suggested when she was trying to decide on a name for the book, and one of her friends joked that she should call it Nellie's Not a B*tch, Mary Is (Nellie Oleson was considered the "bad guy" on the show, while Melissa Sue's character Mary was one of the "good girls").
In 2008, tmz.com--a website that is known for issuing gossip about celebrities--stated that Alison Arngrim--Melissa's co-star in Little House on the Prairie--called Melissa "high maintenance" and "the most difficult person on the show." Arngrim herself dismissed this story as being largely blown out of proportion. "I did say Melissa was high maintenance, but what actress isn't?" Arngrim said after the story was released.
On July 31, 2007, Melissa and her family became Canadian citizens at a ceremony in Montreal.
Melissa and her husband have two children together--a daughter named Piper, and a son named Griffin.
Melissa is married to writer/producer Michael Sloan, who is 16 years older than her. They got married in 1990.
She is 5'3" tall.
Melissa Sue Anderson: Before having kids, I instinctively knew that I would be one of those people who couldn't balance a career and raise children well. I didn't want my kids to grow up around a parent who's being stopped and asked for autographs all the time. They've been able to grow up being the stars of the household.
Melissa Sue Anderson: (about her "Little House" character going blind in Season 4 of the show) It was exciting and challenging at the beginning, but a very difficult thing to sustain over a period of years. As far as what Mary could do, my character became limited because she couldn't see. There were a lot of situations I shouldn't have been in involved in, but for the viewers' sake I had to be, so they wouldn't think Mary had disappeared. But being blind, she probably wouldn't have been in those situations. This, ultimately, is the reason why I decided not to stay with the show and only do three episodes in the 8th season. It would have been harder to leave if I hadn't been blind on the show. But because of those limitations, it wasn't as difficult to leave. I would go back for a reunion, but it would be a lot more fun if Mary could hit her head on a rock and get her sight back!
Melissa Sue Anderson: (about Michael Landon) One time, he challenged me to a chili-and-onions contest. I might have won, but I can't remember. I was too sick! He was great, a terrific guy. As a person, I think I turned out well, and he was part of that. When I heard about the cancer, I suddenly realized I always took him for granted. It was how you would feel about a parent.