acting author podcast

Episode 15: Alison Arngrim on Beyond Surviving: Embracing the Gifts of Nellie Oleson

Alison Arngrim played Nellie Oleson for seven years on the hit show, Little House on the Prairie. She is often described as the “acid tongued hellcat” of the show, the small villain with golden ringlets and lovely clothing, and the arch-enemy of Laura Ingalls. Alison and I jumped on the phone for a little over an hour, and all I can say is that it was one of the most fast paced, hilarious, and engaging hours I’ve ever experienced.

If you were a Little House on the Prairie fan, you're going to love this interview with Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson. She's written a book and shared her story - and, she's hilarious and powerful. Click to listen, pin for later. www.jumpstartyourjoy,com

Alison shared a good deal about her book, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch,” and we spent time chatting about her childhood and landing the fabled role of Nellie Oleson. What really stood out in our time together is Alison’s true appreciation and gratitude for the role that Nellie eventually played in her own life. As a shy child, a child that was being sexually and physically abused at home, playing Nellie instantly pushed Alison into a role that changed her, and made her more courageous. Since then, the role has given her a platform, allowed her to help charities that assist abused children and AIDS patients, and more recently, allowed her to start speaking about issues that women face in her lecture “More Than Just Surviving.”

I want thank Alison for her time – speaking with her was an inspiration. I know you’re going to love this episode, and if you do, I encourage you to check out her book Confessions of a Prairie Bitch on Amazon. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it before she and I spoke.



In this episode, Alison shares about:
– making people laugh as a child
– possibly “retiring” from acting at age 11 prior to getting the role of Nellie
– her realization that the role of Nellie was very different than the other hyper-sweet children she often read for
– the instant change of how people reacted to her in public after Little House on the Prairie first aired
– why she thinks Little House on the Prairie is so popular throughout the world
– Michael Landon, and how he created plot lines for the show
– Melissa Gilbert is now running for Congress in Michigan
– her amazing friendship with Melissa Gilbert
– the best way to find a good date
– how she met her husband Bob at the AIDS Project Los Angeles
– the “Pocket Nellie”
– leveraging fame and people’s love of Nellie to help others
– her upcoming line of scented candles and a ceramic pony
– how to sign up for the Nellie Newsletter
– her upcoming lectures with Petersen Productions
– working with Girl Cave in Huntington Beach
– a hint about her second book!

Alison Arngrim’s website (sign up for the Nellie Newsletter here)
Alison Arngrim’s Book, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch on Amazon

Alison Arngrim on Beyond Surviving: Embracing the Gifts of Nellie Oleson


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  • Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
    December 15, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I have actually never seen that show before, but I love that she sat down and took the time to speak with you. She sounds like an amazing woman.

  • Sandi (@fearless_dining)
    December 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I haven’t seen the show since I was a kid…you remind me that it would be fun for my kids to watch this show.

  • Logan Can
    December 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    My little sister loves Little House One The Prairie! I can’t believe you got to talk to er on the phone! How cool! I had no idea she wrote a book. I’ll have to check it out!

  • Kathryn
    December 16, 2015 at 12:02 am

    This is awesome! I LOVED little house on the prairie the books and the TV show. For hero day in the third grader I went as Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am definitely going to check this out!

  • Ana De- Jesus
    December 16, 2015 at 12:11 am

    She is a true inspiration to us and having the courage to talk about about taboo topics is clearly courageous. Thank you for allowing her voice to be heard.

  • Cynthia L
    December 16, 2015 at 1:59 am

    I am so glad to hear that she was able to get strong and overcome her hardships.

  • jenna
    December 16, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Great addition to your podcast lineup. Little House on the Prairie is such an american staple, it’s interesting to see how a former childhood character feels looking back and what she is up to now as an adult.

  • Jessica {Swanky Recipes}
    December 16, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Totally grew up watching this show. I am a blood relative of Laura Ingalls and have a few private notes of her work from back in the day. Love seeing how all these characters grew up!

    • Paula
      December 18, 2015 at 6:16 am

      How exciting to be related to Laura Ingalls 🙂 and what a special treat to have some private memoirs from her. Thank you for listening, Jessica!

  • Debra
    December 16, 2015 at 4:35 am

    She sounds so interesting! I really am going to have to listen to this one!

  • laura londergan
    December 16, 2015 at 5:23 am

    what a great interview and I love her quote as it’s such good inspiration! Sometimes being the bitch does push you and allows you to do things you didn’t think you could do! 😉

  • tp keane
    December 16, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    What a fantastic interview, well done and much luck to Alison on her wonderful work.

  • Heather
    December 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I love everything about Little House on the Prairie. We are reading the books with the kids right now, and they are loving them. How awesome to have the opportunity to speak with THE Nellie Oleson! Awesome.

  • Jen K
    December 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Alison Arngrim sounds like a really cool woman. I remember reading the LH books.

  • MyTeenGuide
    December 16, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    I remember this show when I was young. How exciting that you were able to interview her.

  • Katie
    December 17, 2015 at 4:38 am

    That’s so cool you got to talk to her! I have never seen the show, but did catch an interview with her the other day.

  • Susannah
    December 17, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Wow. I never knew things things about her! She really sounds like an amazing woman! <3

  • Brittany
    December 24, 2015 at 4:34 am

    What an awesome interview!

  • Kristin
    December 24, 2015 at 7:01 am

    This is soooo cool. I have seen every single episode of Little House and loved Nellie’s character and story arc!

    • Paula
      December 24, 2015 at 8:50 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Kristin 🙂 Thank you for coming by!

  • Elizabeth
    December 27, 2015 at 12:51 am

    She sounds so interesting! I’m sad I didn’t know about her before. Thank you for sharing!