Little House on the Prairie icon Melissa Anderson gets deeply candid with her distaste for “Whisper Country” in this classic interview.
Back in the early 2000s, Melissa Anderson gave a series of exclusive interviews that heavily touched on her work as part of Little House on the Prairie. Within, she recalls much of the dramatics poor Mary Ingalls was put through – which many fans argue is far more than any of her siblings ever had to face.
Among it all, “Whisper Country” is probably one of the episodes fans remember the actress in most. In this Season 4, Episode 15 entry, Mary gets her first teaching job in a backwoods community. The area, Willow Prairie, is fronted by a malicious elder woman, Mrs. Peel, who uses the Bible to back her misguided, hateful rhetoric. Knowing this to be against the Christian Bible itself, Mary lets loose on Peel – and the results are iconic, to say the least.
“It wasn’t my favorite performance of mine,” Anderson reveals within as the infamous scene rolls behind her in the interview. “I can’t stand what I did in that!” she laughs.
In the background, her Mary Ingalls screams for the horrible Mrs. Peel to “read us some of the words you live by!” It’s a powerful moment that showed just how passionate her Mary was about education and her religion.
“I thought I was over the top,” Anderson recalls. “I thought I just went way too far. Way too far. Maybe it was fine, because you usually didn’t see me do that [as Mary]. You usually didn’t see me lose my cool that way. But I thought… Ugh… I thought I was dreadful in that,” she shakes her head with another laugh.
Mary’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Trials
By the end, and after a pep talk from her father Charles (Michael Landon), Mary is able to expose the secret behind Mrs. Peel’s hatefulness: the woman cannot read. Eventually, Mrs. Peel accepts education, and Mary is allowed a rare triumph.
“But, you know, it was different! It was fun!” concludes Melissa Anderson of the episode, echoing the sentiments of many fans.
Despite her distaste for her own performance, viewers will remember “Whisper Country” as one of the most powerful and creative entries in all of Little House on the Prairie. The Season 4 episode, written by John Hawkins and directed by star/producer Michael Landon, would pave the way for even more daring and emotionally complex storytelling from the classic show.
For much more from Melissa Sue Anderson on her most memorable Little House on the Prairie moments, including her thoughts on Mary going blind (like her real life Ingalls counterpart), watch the rest of the fascinating sit-down