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Huge Paycheck Makes 'Little House' Girl Blush (1977)


Melissa Sue Anderson -- star of TV's LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE -- is a gentle and shy teenager who doesn't like to talk about herself. However, she'll answer most questions kindly -- unless she's asked about money. Then she's liable to react with a cold stare.

When LITTLE HOUSE is not in production, 15 year-old Melissa (whom friends call "Missy") goes to a Burbank, California Parochial High School, where she carries on her A-student activities like any other youngster.

Friends at school are always asking Melissa questions about her career -- and mostly they will ask how much money she makes.

"That's embarrassing," remarks Melissa. "I just give them a look that lets them know what I think of the question or tell them it's none of their business.

"Everybody thinks actors make a lot of money, but we don't. At least not by the time we pay certain costs.

"Twenty-five per cent of my pay goes into a trust fund. Ten per cent goes to my agent and I spend a lot -- too much -- on my fan club, which has 1,500 members.

"The initial cost people pay for belonging to the club is one thing, but we spend extra to send out letters, bulletins, Christmas cards. It's publicity and everything, but it's costing a lot.

"Plus I pay my mom for coming to the set everyday, because I'd hire someone to take me here and home anyway."

Although Melissa makes more money in a month than most teens make in a year, she doesn't live any richer. She receives a modest weekly allowance, that is carefully dispensed by her mother Marion, who is divorced.

Like any other teenage girl, when Melissa needs some extra money, she earns it by babysitting for 75 cents an hour.

"If there's clothes I want that my mother doesn't think I need, I'll spend my money on that," she relates. "But I don't go into my savings much."

While her mom watches over her finances, Melissa finds the crew of LITTLE HOUSE seems to be watching over her love life. "They are really protective," Melissa declares. She can't bring a boy onto the set without the crew pointing out all his bad points.

Melissa dates when she can find the time, but she tries to avoid socializing with boys in show business. "Too many people say too may things," she explains. "A lot of magazines (not this publication, of course) say all sorts of things that aren't true and I don't want to give them extra cause."

Meeting boys that aren't in show business isn't an easy task for Melissa, since she spends half a year being schooled at the television studio.

"If I want to continue acting, I have to work at it," she realizes. "I'm lucky to have a steady job and the good experience of a series. (Melissa's only prior acting chores were in 10 TV commercials and a guest spot on THE BRADY BUNCH.)

"Acting is something I want to do. It's my life. And it's completely natural to me."