I had so much fun eating chicken soup, homemade chicken soup at mean ole’ Nellie Oleson’s place in the Valley on Tuesday. No, not in Walnut Grove, South Dakota where the mean Nellie used to offer her own brand of peer bullying on dear Laura and the Ingram kids. Anyhow, we chatted about so many great childhood memories, but Alison is also a survivor of sexual abuse, as you can read in her wonderful and bestselling book “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.” Alison also discussed her real passion, being a children’s advocate around the country.
On Wednesday Mary and Alison were getting offers from around the country from Boston to Atlanta and Houston, wanting the pair to speak on their local TV network about their lives and careers. “Mary and I would love to do more, Tommy, if we can help others, we are willing to do so,” said Alison. Well, for locals in L.A. you can catch the dynamic duo on November 16, when Mary McDonough (Erin Walton/The Waltons) and Alison Arngrim (Nasty Nellie Oleson/Little House on the Prairie) are appearing together for a TV Good girl vs. TV Bad girl appearance. When asked if like Mary McDonough, who admitted that she did not watch either “The Waltons” or “Little House,” Alison laughed, “Well, at least VCR’s came into existence during ‘Little House.’ But boy, the FBI was very strict on videotaping. Do you remember when poor Roddy McDowall got dragged downtown to the LAPD to answer to why he had such a big video collection? Now ‘Little House’ is not only airing all over the world, but it is on DVD, and constantly flying off the shelves,” said the bestselling author and famed actress.
Mary and Alison’s lives ran parallel as child stars and friends, but couldn’t have been more different at home. Mary grew up in a very sheltered home, whereas Alison’s family was much more savvy about what made Hollywood work and how you could play the game. “My dad and mom were in the business, they knew what it was all about. Luckily they knew how to avoid the bad people so to speak,” Alison said. Then when I told her that I was 40-years-old before I realized that most of what is written in magazines, online and in newspapers about famous people was all made up, the beautiful blonde star laughed, “Come on, you were 40 when you figured that out? I was 6-years-old! We had a reporter come to the house for one of those fan magazines and my mom, who could not boil water was described in the magazine weeks later of being a baker, who made a delicious lemon pie. Our housekeeper made it. Plus there were all of these quotes that were attributed to my family, and to me, and we were wondering, who even talked this way.”
Vanity Fair listed Alison Arngrim’s character as the #1 Bitch in TV history, followed by Joan Collins as Alexis Colby on “Dynasty.” Arngrim recently released the paperback version of her New York Times Best-selling memoir’s titled, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.” Alison doesn’t mind that people still ask her if she really was as mean as her television character Nellie Oleson. But Mary McDonough, who played Erin Walton told Highlight Hollywood. “No way, Alison is actually a nicer person than I am. She’s a sweetheart, and you know that Tommy.” While Alison reminded me, “Don’t tell people that. Let them wonder. Seriously, if my notoriety can help the organization that I believe in strong, so be it. It’s called Protect. It’s so important, as we are watching this story unfold at Penn State, that people realize how children in America are not protected. Tommy, it would break your heart to see how child pornography is being distributed today. It is being done by parents of children, it’s very sick and it is really escalating. So I hope everyone who reads your online magazine (Highlight Hollywood) will go to www.protect.org.” Or to get the latest about Alison and her adventures, check out her website at: www.hgd.com/alison. Alison is a tireless advocate for children. She has turned her own torment and the abuse she suffered at the hands of those her family trusted to helping others defeat and overcome this in their own lives.
So don’t miss my two favorite ladies and join us for the “Waltons Mountain” vs. “The Prairie” Q&A! Alison Arngrim and Mary McDonough will be signing copies of their bestselling books at Santa Monica Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd) next Wednesday at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call 310-458-8600 for details.
Alison added, “Someone has called me a bitch to my face every single day of my life since I was 11 years old,” says Ms. Arngrim. In her memoir, CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH, Arngrim, a longtime stand-up comic, recounts her most cherished and often hilarious behind-the-scenes stories from the Little House set, and her experiences growing up in an eccentric Hollywood family. It was through playing the iconic Nellie that Alison was able to find strength to survive some of her most harrowing personal struggles. “I owe it all to the biggest little bitch on the prairie,” writes Alison. “When I played Nellie Oleson, she allowed me to scream, to howl, to throw things, to pour out all my pain and rage over and over again in a safe place. Nellie taught me that I could be angry, and the world would not open up and swallow me.” Entertaining and illuminating throughout, CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH pulls back the curtain on one of the most popular TV shows of all time — and will be a must-read for all the fans who used to love to hate the despicable Nellie Oleson.
Check out Alison’s interview on ABC’s “The View” at
Look for more on Alison’s PROTECT in a few days at HighlightHollywood.com.
Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photograph is Courtesy: Ms. Arngrim’s private collection
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