Alison Arngrim

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Alison Arngrim
File:Alison Arngrim 2009.jpg
Alison Arngrim, 2009
Born Alison Margaret Arngrim
(1962-01-18) January 18, 1962 (age 56)
New York City,
United States
Occupation Actress, stand-up comedian
Years active 1974–present
Parent(s) Thor Arngrim (1928–2009)
Norma MacMillan (1921–2001)
Relatives Stefan Arngrim (b. 1955), brother

Alison Margaret Arngrim (born January 18, 1962 in New York City, U.S.) is an American actress, comedian and author. Beginning her television career at the age of twelve, Arngrim is a Young Artist AwardFormer Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award honoree, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1981.

Early life

Arngrim's father, Thor Arngrim, was a Canadian-born Hollywood manager. Her mother, Norma MacMillan of Vancouver, BC, was an actress who provided the voices for characters as Casper Casper the Friendly Ghost, as Gumby Gumby, as Davey on Davey and Goliath, and Sweet Polly Purebred on Underdog, as well as other animated children's programs. Her brother, Stefan Arngrim (b. 1955) was also a child actor, perhaps best known for his role as Barry Lockridge on the Irwin Allen science fiction television series, Land of the Giants.[1] Arngrim has claimed that her brother sexually molested her from age six until nine.[2]

Acting career

After beginning a career as a child model and actress in television commercials, Arngrim rose to fame as a child star in 1974, portraying the role of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series Little House on the Prairie. She originally auditioned for the role of Laura Ingalls, and later, Mary Ingalls, but was instead cast in the role of antagonist, Nellie Oleson. Arngrim would play the role of Nellie for seven seasons and her portrayal became a cultural reference and camp archetype for the spoiled "bad girl" throughout the 1970s.[citation needed]

Years later, in one of her stand-up routines, Arngrim described playing Nellie on Little House on The Prairie as "like having PMS for seven years."[3] In 2002, she was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award for her work as a child actress on Little House.[4] At the 2006 TV Land Awards, Arngrim tied with Danielle Spencer ('Dee' on What's Happening!!) as the "Character Most in Need of a Time-out" for her role as Nellie.

In addition to her role on Little House, Arngrim also recorded the comedy record album, Heeere's Amy, in which she portrayed first daughter Amy Carter,.[5] Her mother, who voiced the Kennedy children on the comedy albums of Vaughn Meader, also guest starred on the album. After leaving Little House, Arngrim appeared in guest-starring roles on such television series as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. She was also a frequent panelist on the short-lived NBC game show Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour.


In addition to performing, Arngrim also devotes her time to charitable organizations. One of her inspirations for her charity work is the memory of her friend and fellow actor Steve Tracy, who played the role of Nellie Oleson's husband, Percival Dalton, on Little House on the Prairie. Tracy died from complications from AIDS in 1986, after which Arngrim set her sights on becoming an activist for AIDS awareness. She also focuses on other issues, such as child abuse, speaking frequently for and lobbying with the group PROTECT. In 2004, Arngrim revealed that she herself was an incest survivor on Larry King Live.


In 2010, Arngrim authored an autobiography titled Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.[6] In the book she, for the first time, publicly identified her childhood abuser, though the book is mostly light-hearted and received critical praise for her ability to mix humor and personal tragedy.[citation needed] She wrote and performed a stage version, which premiered at Club Fez in New York.[7] She later performed this one-person show at Parliament House, a gay resort in Orlando, Florida.[8]

Personal life

Arngrim was briefly married to a writer, Donald Spencer, in the late 1980s. On November 6, 1993, she married her second husband, musician Robert Paul Schoonover, whom she met while volunteering at AIDS Project Los Angeles, where he was director of the Southern California AIDS Hotline. Bride, groom, and the wedding party all wore black tuxedos with bare feet and black toenail polish to the wedding. Arngrim and Schoonover live in Los Angeles.

Arngrim regularly keeps in contact with her childhood friend Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She occasionally appears at Little House on the Prairie reunion events and autograph shows.


Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1974 Throw Out the Anchor! Stevie
1974–1982 Little House on the Prairie Nellie Oleson Regular role (104 episodes)
1981 The Love Boat Becky Daniels Episode: Tony and Julie/Separate Beds/America's Sweetheart
1981 Fantasy Island Lisa Blake Episode: "Elizabeth's Baby/The Artist and the Lady"
1983 I Married Wyatt Earp Amy TV film
1986 Video Valentino Trixie Short film
2000 For the Love of May Jude Short film
2002 Last Place on Earth, TheThe Last Place on Earth Party Toast
2007 Le deal Edith
2009 Make the Yuletide Gay Heather Mancuso
2009 Bilderberg Club: Meet the Shadow One World Government, TheThe Bilderberg Club: Meet the Shadow One World Government Dr. Samantha Klein Short film





  1. "Groovy Clothes Call for Proper Setting, Teenage Actor Warns". Los Angeles Times. August 25, 1968.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Little House's Alison Arngrim: a retrospective". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. June 16, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Interview in Las Vegas Review-Journal 5 August 2010
  4. "23rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Schmader, David (June 10, 2009). "Did You Know This? I Did Not". The Stranger. Retrieved June 12, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Arngrim, Alison (2010). Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. It Books. ISBN 978-0-06-196214-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Barnes, Brooks (June 14, 2013). "From 'I Hate Her' to Icon". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Arngrim, Alison (2010). Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. New York City: It Books. ISBN 978-0-06-196214-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links