Alison Arngrim on Beyond Surviving Embracing the Gifts of Nellie Oleson Little House on the Prairie

Alison Arngrim on Beyond Surviving: Embracing the Gifts of Nellie Oleson (Little House on the Prairie)

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. Tune in as I interview Alison Arngrim on beyond surviving: embracing the gifts of Nellie Oleson.

I’m sharing this episode in Season 8 in celebration of it being Little House on the Prairie (the TV Show)’s 50th anniversary. And, my son and I are currently visiting Kansas and making a side trip to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead where the book “Little House on the Prairie” takes place. If you want to see more images about the trip, visit my Instagram account at Jump Start Your Joy.

Tune in here! Please be advised, Alison does mention childhood abuse briefly, and the sound on this interview is of a lower quality than my newer episodes. This recording is from a few years ago.

Alison Arngrim speaks about Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

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.”

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

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 Arngrim 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
– her amazing friendship with Melissa Gilbert
– 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
– how to sign up for the Nellie Newsletter
– her lectures with Petersen Productions and working with Girl Cave in Huntington Beach

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


00:00 Introduction and Special Guest Announcement

00:31 Revisiting a Classic Episode

01:04 Welcome New Listeners

01:48 Introducing Alison Arngrim

03:04 Alison’s Early Career and Little House on the Prairie

05:13 The Audition for Nelly Olson

11:42 The Global Impact of Little House on the Prairie

14:42 Behind the Scenes with Michael Landon

19:25 The Friendship with Melissa Gilbert

21:58 Public Reactions and Personal Reflections

31:29 Navigating Early Uncertainty

32:02 Building a Support System

32:54 A Love Story Blossoms

33:26 Shared Values and Compatibility

35:44 Embracing Public Recognition

39:31 Turning Fame into a Force for Good

43:05 Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

45:21 Empowering Women Through Lectures

51:03 Practical Advice for Aspiring Changemakers

56:03 Finding Joy in Everyday Life

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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


21 responses to “Alison Arngrim on Beyond Surviving: Embracing the Gifts of Nellie Oleson (Little House on the Prairie)”

  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) Avatar
    Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    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.

  2. Sandi (@fearless_dining) Avatar

    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.

  3. Logan Can Avatar

    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!

  4. Kathryn Avatar

    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!

  5. Ana De- Jesus Avatar

    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.

  6. Cynthia L Avatar

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

  7. jenna Avatar

    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.

  8. Jessica {Swanky Recipes} Avatar

    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!

  9. Debra Avatar

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

  10. laura londergan Avatar

    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! 😉

  11. tp keane Avatar
    tp keane

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

  12. Heather Avatar

    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.

  13. Jen K Avatar

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

  14. MyTeenGuide Avatar

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

  15. Katie Avatar

    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.

  16. Susannah Avatar

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

  17. Paula Avatar

    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!

  18. Brittany Avatar

    What an awesome interview!

  19. Kristin Avatar

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

  20. Paula Avatar

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

  21. Elizabeth Avatar

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