‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Sue Anderson Said She Will ‘Always Remember’ This Special Gift From June Carter Cash

Melissa Sue Anderson played teenager Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie for eight seasons. The young actor had the opportunity to work with some famous guest stars during her time on the historical drama, including music icon Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash.

The legendary country singer and his spouse appeared in season 3 of Little House, where Anderson had plenty of scenes with Cash. When the episode entitled “The Collection” wrapped, the couple shared their appreciation with the cast and crew, along with a memorable gift just for Anderson.

Melissa Sue Anderson of 'Little House on the Prairie'
Melissa Sue Anderson of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | Wynn Hammer/NBCU Photo Bank

‘Little House on the Prairie’ cast welcomed Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

Anderson recalled the excitement when the Cashes were coming to the Little House set.

“Getting these mega-country stars to act in one of our episodes was a real coup,” Anderson wrote in her 2010 memoir, The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House. “Our set was buzzing with anticipation. What would they be like? Would they be traveling with an entourage? Would they ask for any special treatment?”

Much to the cast and crew’s delight, the music stars were completely unpretentious and exuded warmth and authenticity.

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“As with other recording artists I’ve met over the years,” Anderson commented, “the Cash family (their young son, John Carter, was an extra in this episode) was down to earth and nice to everyone they came in contact with.”

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash played grifters

In the season 3 opener of Little House on the Prairie, Cash and his wife played con artists trying to swindle the townspeople of Walnut Grove. When Reverend Alden falls ill and is discovered by Caleb Hodgekiss (Cash) and his wife Mattie (June Carter), Caleb decides to impersonate a minister to take the reverend’s place. He then attempts to raise a collection of donations from the community, supposedly for those in need.

“Singers are almost always excellent actors,” Anderson remarked. “This was definitely the case with June and Johnny (we called him ‘John’). I remember being so surprised at how good June was portraying Mattie Hodgekiss, the ‘stand-by-her-man’ grifter, with a heart of gold, alongside John’s con man, Caleb.”

The episode featured Mary going to her neighbors in Walnut Grove with “Brother” Hodgekiss to try and raise funds, for what she believed was a genuine collection for the poor. Anderson relished her scenes with the Country Music Hall of Fame star.

“[June] did a terrific job, as did John,” the Little House alum said in praise of the couple. “I was beyond excited to work with him, as I was featured in this episode and had almost every scene with him.”

Melissa Sue Anderson got a gift of her own

“The Collection” concluded with the couple repenting from their grifting ways Rather than running away with the money, Brother Hodgekiss tells the congregation to take the contributions to the town in need.

“I loved this episode,” Anderson wrote. “I’ve always loved stories about grifters and con men, and being able to be a part of one was especially fun.”

The couple wrapped their time on the historical drama with a show of generosity, and one gift in particular for Cash’s young co-star.

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“John gave all of the cast and our entire crew and staff personally signed copies of his book, Man in Black,” the Little House star recalled. “And June did something really special for a 13-year-old girl: She gave me my very first bottle of perfume. It was Worth, and I’ll always remember that.”