Friday, April 05, 2013

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson & Learned to Love Being Hated, by Alison Arngrim

(hb; 2010: autobiography)

From the inside flap:

"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 "Scottie" 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 bitch on the prairie show her the way."


Interesting, solid, heartfelt book.  Arngrim's humor lightens some of the heavier, non-graphic parts relating to her emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of her brother, and adds a welcome zing to her account of her curious life.

Good read from an admirable, funny woman.  Check it out.

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