Of all the mean girls in the history of television, the meanest might have been Nellie Oleson from “Little House on the Prairie.”
I mean, look at her picture over there. Just look at it. You want to punch her in the face, don’t you? Or at least convince Laura Ingalls (aka Melissa Gilbert) to swat her senseless with her braided pigtails, right?
Well, here’s the thing about that obnoxious, ringlet-haired, self-righteous, arrogant little Miss Oleson. She was played by a young actress named Alison Arngrim, who, by all accounts, seems to be completely unobnoxious. Which means you can’t, in good conscience, really want to hit her, back then or now.
Speaking of now, you may be wondering what Arngrim has been up to since she stopped regularly terrorizing sweet little girls with nicknames like Half Pint. Allow me to bring you up to speed.
During and after her seven years on “Little House” — which included a Halloween episode about Nellie’s dad allegedly beheading Nellie’s mom that scared the crap out of every kid who saw it — Arngrim scored a few small parts on other TV shows, including “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat.”
Eventually, though, Arngrim took her act mostly to the stage, appearing in numerous theater productions and working as a stand-up comedian. She created a one-woman show entitled “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch,” which she still performs in venues throughout the U.S.; in fact, she brought the performance to New York earlier this year. Arngrim also has taken “Confessions” to France on more than one occasion, and will do so again this fall. Over there, it goes by the name “Confessions d’une Garce de la Prairie,” and Arngrim performs the whole thing in French. Nellie Oleson? Yeah, she’s HUGE in France!
Here is a video that features a few clips from some of Arngrim’s performances:
Arngrim also does more than just perform. After the death in 1986 of friend and “Little House” co-star Steve Tracy — he played Nellie’s husband in some later episodes — she got involved with several organizations related to AIDS education and prevention. She also serves on the advisory board of The National Association to Protect Children and actively advocates for better enforcement of child protection laws.
She’s now 47, living in L.A. and married to musician Bob Schoonover. And, for the record, she reportedly remains good friends with Melissa Gilbert. So if Half Pint can forgive Nellie, maybe the rest of us can at least give it a shot.
Images: Young Hollywood Hall of Fame and Seattle Gay News.com