Monday, July 26, 2010

Whoa, Nellie!

On Sunday I got to meet someone who just about everyone knows: Nellie Oleson. If you don't know who she is, you've obviously been living under a rock.
Well, she isn't really Nellie Oleson, she just played her on TV. "She" is the lovely Alison Arngrim. Arngrim has a new book, called "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch," and her stop in Walnut Grove over the weekend was part of her promotional tour. A month or so ago, I had the opportunity to interview her, as well as Dean Butler (Almanzo) about their planned trips to Walnut Grove. My job may not be the most glamorous in the world, but it does sometimes have its perks. I've interviewed Butler before, as well as the Greenbush twins, who played Carrie on the "Little House" series. I've gotten to interview and meet several other famous people as well, mostly politicians. Highlights have included Jesse Ventura and Paul Wellstone.
My phone interview with Arngrim was a rather surreal experience. It's not quite so obvious in person, but over the phone, it is in-your-face obvious that you are speaking with Nellie Oleson. She told me that she often has people recognize her voice when she calls to make airline reservations or do other business over the phone.
At the time I interviewed her, "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" was not yet available. Since then I bought it and devoured it. In it, she talks about her childhood (her mother was the voice of Gumby and Casper the Friendly Ghost, among other cartoon personalities), how she was sexually abused, her time on the show, the death of her TV husband Steve Tracy, how she became a stand-up comedienne, and her life now. I couldn't put it down. Arngrim's book is well-written and witty, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the show.
I decided that having the book signed was an opportunity I really shouldn't pass up. I convinced my husband to make the trip with me, and I'd buy him lunch afterward. Piece of cake (or, in this case, pie). I had my book signed, "To a fellow Prairie Bitch." Fitting, I think.
Nellie was undoubtedly my favorite "Little House" character. I like bad girls. They're interesting. Certainly more interesting than that goody-two-shoes Mary Ingalls, who never did anything wrong (except the time she and Laura bought the box of medicine and tried to lie about it ... telling Pa they had laryngitis) and was a tattle-tale to boot. At least Laura had flaws that made her interesting. And what reward did Mary get for being good all the time? She went blind. Remember that, kids.

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