Alison Arngrim: "How I Survived Nellie Oleson"

September 10, 2010 8:50:48 AM PDT
You probably remember little Nellie Oleson; she was the horrible, wretched, scheming, lying, manipulative, selfish brat of Little House on the Prairie. For seven years, Alison Arngrim the unlovable girl on one of history's most beloved family TV series. Though millions of Little House on the Prairie viewers might have hated Nellie and her evil antics, Arngrim, now a standup comedian, says she grew to love her character and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her.

It was through playing the iconic Nellie that Alison says she was able to find strength to survive some of her most harrowing personal struggles. "I owe it all to (Nellie)," writes Alison. "When I played Nellie, she allowed me to scream, to howl, to throw things, to pour out all my pain and rage over and over again in a safe place. Nellie taught me that I could be angry, and the world would not open up and swallow me."

In her new memoir, Confessions Of A Prairie Bitch, Arngrim recounts her most cherished and often hilarious behind-the-scenes stories from the Little House set, and her experiences growing up in an eccentric Hollywood family including:

  • How she became best friends with Melissa Gilbert, who played her on-screen nemesis, Laura Ingalls,
  • The only time she appeared in public in costume, which provoked a posse of vengeful elementary schoolgirls to attack her.
  • Life with her parents, Thor Arngrim, Hollywood talent manager to Liberace and others, and Norma Macmillan, a popular voice-over actress who played Casper the Ghost, Gumby, and Davey of Davey and Goliath.
  • Her struggle to survive paralyzing shyness and depression.
  • How the loss of her Little House husband and best friend Stacy Tracy to AIDS inspired her second career in social and political activism.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alison Arngrim starred as the scheming Nellie Oleson for seven years on the iconic TV series Little House on the Prairie She also guest-starred on such cult classics as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and the NBC movie of the week I Married Wyatt Earp, and has appeared in numerous films and plays. Arngrim now performs stand-up; her one-woman show "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" has become a worldwide phenomenon. Since Arngrim's friend and "Little House husband" co-star Steve Tracy passed away due to complications of HIV/AIDS in 1986, Arngrim has done extensive advocacy work on behalf of HIV awareness and abused children, volunteering for non-profit organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles, Tuesday's Child, and The National Association to Protect Children. Arngrim lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

SEE ALISON ARNGRIM

  • 8 pm on Friday
    Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret, Chicago
  • 2 pm on Saturday
    Borders, 2817 N Clark St., Chicago


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