If you follow or friend me on Twitter or Facebook, you've already heard me gush about Alison Arngrim, and her memoir of growing up in Hollywood and starring as the evil Nellie Oleson on the beloved television series Little House in the Prairie. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated is officially on sale today and Alison is hitting the road to promote it.
For seven years, Alison Arngrim played a wretched, scheming, selfish, lying, manipulative brat on one of TV history's most beloved series. Though millions of Little House on the Prairie viewers hated Nellie Oleson and her evil antics, Arngrim grew to love her character—and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her.
In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, Arngrim describes growing up in Hollywood with her eccentric parents: Thor Arngrim, a talent manager to Liberace and others, whose appetite for publicity was insatiable, and legendary voice actress Norma MacMillan, who played both Gumby and Casper the Friendly Ghost. She recalls her most cherished and often wickedly funny moments behind the scenes of Little House: Michael Landon's "unsaintly" habit of not wearing underwear; how she and Melissa Gilbert (who played her TV nemesis, Laura Ingalls) became best friends and accidentally got drunk on rum cakes at 7-Eleven; and the only time she and Katherine MacGregor (who played Nellie's mom) appeared in public in costume, provoking a posse of elementary schoolgirls to attack them.
Arngrim relays all this and more with biting wit, but she also bravely recounts her life's challenges: her struggle to survive a history of traumatic abuse, depression, and paralyzing shyness; the "secret" her father kept from her for twenty years; and the devastating loss of her "Little House husband" and best friend, Steve Tracy, to AIDS, which inspired her second career in social and political activism. Arngrim describes how Nellie Oleson taught her to be bold, daring, and determined, and how she is eternally grateful to have had the biggest little bitch on the prairie to show her the way.
One of the things I loved about this book was learning just how the on-set dynamics and friendships unfolded - turns out that Alison and Melissa Gilbert were best friends! Melissa Gilbert said of the book “Courage, moxie, chutzpah , cajones. Alison Arngrim has them all in spades. In “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch,” she bares her soul and manages to share her story with grace, dignity, and her inimitable humor. Simply put, I love this book and I love her. ”
Browse inside the book now, watch Alison's interview today on Good Day NY, and look for her on The Today show tomorrow, Wed, June 16th. She's also hitting the road with both her comedy show and several book signings - check out her Facebook page to find an event near you. I'll be at her signing tonight in NY and will be sure to report back!
I'll leave you with this hilarious video that Alison shot of the Top 10 Questions She is Most Asked About Little House on the Prairie.