MELISSA ANDERSON SHAKES UP HER CAREER IN EARTHQUAKE MINISERIES
Retired ‘Little House’ ex is back in the spotlight in NBC’s ‘10.5: Apocalypse’
Melissa Anderson, the former “Little House on the Prairie” costar, retired from show business more than a decade ago to be a full-time, hands-on mom.
Now, she muses, her kids are shoving her out the door and back to work.
“It’s funny how it has turned around on me like that,” says Anderson, who costars in “10.5: Apocalypse,” NBC’s May disaster-movie miniseries. “You devote your life to raising your kids and then they start saying, ‘Oh, Mom, you should spend more of your time acting again’ and they start pushing you to do it!”
Anderson, 43, lives in Montreal with her writer/producer husband, Michael Sloan, and their two kids, a 15-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.
Playing the President’s wife in “10.5” (which airs at 9 p.m. ET May 21 and 23) got her out of the house -– but not too far from her family, given that the miniseries was filmed in Montreal.
Doing the miniseries brought back memories for Anderson, who was born and raised in California, of past experiences in earthquake central.
“There was a big one in 1970, when I was 8, and we weren’t far from the epicenter,” she recalls. “We had a two-story home and the chandelier that hung in the stairwell was swinging all over the place, but I didn’t even know to be scared. I thought it was exciting.”
Years later, during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, a 6.7 shaker, she wasn’t quite as fearless. “I was living in Malibu,” she says. “We had substantial damage from that. I remember my daughter saying something like, ‘My bed is moving, my bed is moving!’ That was kind of scary.”
Anderson, billed as Melissa Sue Anderson back in her “Little House” days, doesn’t necessarily see this gig as a “comeback,” but she concedes that, yes, she’ll probably be more active in films and TV in the coming years.
“A lot of people can balance and juggle and do it all, work and family, and not feel that they’re missing something,” Anderson says, “but I don’t think I’m one of those people. I think I really needed to focus totally on raising my kids in order to feel I was doing my best.”
To many TV lovers, Anderson will always be Mary Ingalls, the oldest “Little House” daughter, the one who eventually lost her sight. The 1974-83 family drama is still popular in reruns (airing at 10 and 11 a.m. and 3 and 4 p.m. ET weekdays on Hallmark Channel). But she doesn’t think of her “Little House” legacy as being any kind of a burden.
“I was happy for the job and it was a great place to work and I feel like I did some really good work and I learned a lot,” she says, “so it was all good experiences. But at the same time, I do hope it won’t be all I’m ever associated with.”
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