Alison Arngrim

Alison Margaret Arngrim (born January 18, 1962) is a Canadian-American actress 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.

Alison Arngrim
Alison Arngrim 2017.jpg
Alison Arngrim in 2017
Alison Margaret Arngrim

(1962-01-18) January 18, 1962 (age 58)
OccupationActress, author
Years active1974–present
Spouse(s)Donald Spencer
Robert Paul Schoonover
Parent(s)Norma MacMillan
Thor Arngrim
RelativesStefan Arngrim (brother)

Early lifeEdit

Arngrim's father, Thor Arngrim, was a Canadian-born Hollywood manager. Her mother, Norma MacMillan of Vancouver, British Columbia, was an actress who provided the voices for characters as Casper on Casper the Friendly Ghost, as Gumby on Gumby, as Davey on Davey and Goliath, and Sweet Polly Purebred on Underdog, as well as other animated children's programs.

Her brother, Stefan (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 careerEdit

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][3]

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."[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.

Since 2006, she's developed a successful career on stage in France, with her friend, author/director/comedian Patrick Loubatière.


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 of AIDS in 1986, after which Arngrim set her sights on becoming an activist for AIDS awareness including the organization ACT UP and working at AIDS hotline. She also focuses on other issues, such as child abuse, speaking frequently for and lobbying with the group PROTECT. In 2004, Arngrim revealed on Larry King Live that she herself was an incest survivor.


In 2010, Arngrim authored an autobiography titled Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.[7] 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.[8] She wrote and performed a stage version, which premiered at Club Fez in New York.[9] She later performed this one-person show at Parliament House, a gay resort in Orlando, Florida.[10]


Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1974 Throw Out the Anchor! Stevie Feature film
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 The Last Place on Earth Party Toast Feature film
2007 Le deal Edith Feature film
2009 Make the Yuletide Gay Heather Mancuso Feature film
2009 The Bilderberg Club: Meet the Shadow One World Government Dr. Samantha Klein Short film
2012 Livin' the Dream Debbie Sweat Short film
2015 The Comeback Kids Herself Episode: "Child Star Support Group: Part 2"
2015 CPR Talent Agency Herself TV pilot episode
2015 Life Interrupted Ally Hughes TV film
2016 The Mephisto Box Leeza Pre-production





  1. ^ "Groovy Clothes Call for Proper Setting, Teenage Actor Warns". Los Angeles Times. August 25, 1968.
  2. ^ Macdonald, Gayle (June 16, 2010). "Little House's Alison Arngrim: a retrospective". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
  3. ^ Meinhart, Kendra (July 29, 2012). "Mean girl pioneer: 'Little House' star recalls days on TV's favorite prairie". The Town Talk.
  4. ^ Interview in Las Vegas Review-Journal 5 August 2010
  5. ^ "23rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  6. ^ Schmader, David (June 10, 2009). "Did You Know This? I Did Not". The Stranger. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated Paperback – June 14, 2011". Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Barnes, Brooks (June 14, 2013). "From 'I Hate Her' to Icon". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.


  • 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.

Further readingEdit

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 7.

External linksEdit