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Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated Hardcover – June 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“Alison Arngrim is a talented actress and an author who has patched together a meaningful life and created a book whose pages…fly.” (Phyllis Diller)

“As a city bitch myself, I loved this book! It’s nice to see how the other half lives. Alison Arngrim’s memoir is a hilarious, moving, and dishy Hollywood tale.” (Margaret Cho)

“Alison Arngrim is a fine actress and a true comedienne. She has always been the kind of ‘Bitch’ who tells it like it is. So, readers beware, you are in for an eye-full of reality told with a remarkable sense of humor.” (Carol Channing)

“Whoa, Nellie! “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch” is a book that you will keep stored under a haystack in the barn, to dip into whenever you need a shot of something that will keep you down on the farm.” (Bruce Vilanch)

“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. ” (Melissa Gilbert)

From the Back Cover

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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061962147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061962141
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (671 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times Best Selling author of "Confessions of A Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated", Alison Arngrim is best known to viewers world-wide for her portrayal of the incredibly nasty "Nellie Oleson" on the much loved, long running hit television series "Little House On The Prairie," and continues to amuse audiences through her many film, television, stage and multi-media appearances.

Her one woman show "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch", which started at Club Fez in New York in 2002, has now become a world-wide phenomenon, having been performed to packed houses in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Green Bay, San Francisco, Seattle, and in France, where Alison performs entirely in French to standing room only crowds in her all French version titled: "Confessions d'une Garce de La Prairie" and "La Malle aux Tresors de Nellie Oleson."

As a stand-up comedian, Alison has headlined at nightclubs such as the Laugh Factory, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles; as well as the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York and assorted comedy venues all across the United States and Canada.

She is currently starring in two comedy series pilots: "Life Interrupted", as the ex-wife of commercial child star Mason Reese, with Erin Murphy, ("Bewitched") as her new wife and Dawn Wells, ("Gilligan's Island), as her mother, as well as, "C.P.R. - Child Performers Resurrection Talent Agency", as an ex-child star gone wrong, trying to save herself and her assorted misfit cohorts by opening a talent agency.

Alison has mocked her status as an "ex-child star" on Jay Leno's Tonight Show, during their month long parody, "Hollywood Survivor" and continues to be a frequent interview subject on everything from "A&E", "E! Entertainment", "TV Land" and "VH-1", to CNN and the Travel Channel. The TV Land network honored her undying image as TV's worst bitch, by declaring her the winner of their 2006 award for, "Character Most Desperately In Need Of A Time Out".

She starred in the heartwarming, gay, Christmas cult classic, "Make the Yuletide Gay", as the overbearing "Heather Mancuso". Her other television and film appearances include, "Livin' the Dream", "Tinder & Grinder", "The Bilderberg Club", "For the Love of May" with Ru Paul and Patricia Neal, and "The Last Place On Earth" with Billy Dee Williams and Phyllis Diller. In 2007, she began her foray into French cinema with the role of "Edith" in the French detective comedy, Jean Pierre Mocky's "Le Deal".

Alison's stage work includes, "The Vagina Monologs", "Sirena: Queen of the Tango", "Dear Brutus", "The Wool Gatherer", the French bedroom farce, "In One Bed And Out The Other", Michael Kearns' "AIDS/US II", "Rita" in the 2005 GLAAD Award nominated production of "Last Summer At Bluefish Cove", ", the somewhat off kilter "Reverend Pat Miass" in "Joni and Gina's Wedding", and the Ovation Award Nominated musical-drama, "Flirting with Morty", as the abusive, trashy and tragic Ray Lee.

In her spare time, she takes tourists on the rollicking comedy outing, "Nasty Nellie's Tour of Hollywood", (featured at Dearly Departed Tours), where she simultaneously enlightens and amuses passengers with behind the scenes tales from both Hollywood history and her own life.

Never one to forget her "Prairie" roots, Alison enjoys making appearances several times a year at various "Little House on the Prairie" historical sites for educational events and gatherings of fans. She has been a frequent visitor to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in the real life Walnut Grove, Minnesota as well as Green Bay, Wisconsin's Heritage Hills, Mumford's Genesee Country Village, Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri and many, many others.

Alison has a long history of activism. In 1986 when her friend and "Little House husband" co-star, Steve Tracy, passed away due to complications of HIV/AIDS, Alison immediately began volunteering at AIDS Project Los Angeles. Her duties ranged from working on the Southern California AIDS Hotline and the APLA food bank, (APLA's Necessities of Life Program,) to chairing the steering committee of the volunteer speakers bureau and developing "Safer Sex" workshops. She has provided AIDS education to doctors, nurses, prison inmates, service clubs, churches, department stores and schools, written AIDS education articles for the magazines "Frontiers" and "Designers West", and spent seven years hosting the APLA educational cable television show, "AIDS Vision". In 1992, Joel Wachs presented Alison with a resolution by the Los Angeles City Council commending her on her work on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS.

From 1989 through 1993 she served as Program Manager at Tuesday's Child, an organization assisting children and families affected by HIV and AIDS. From 1989 through 2003 she served as both hostess and producer for the comedy stage at the AIDS Project Los Angeles Annual Summer Party, (on the backlot of Universal Studios), where through an evening of raucous entertainment, featuring name comedians, she helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for people living with HIV.

She currently serves as California Chair, National Spokesperson and Founding Board Member on the National Advisory Board of The National Association to Protect Children, or PROTECT.org, fighting to give children a legal and political voice in the war against child abuse. As an activist for the improvement of child protection laws, she has spoken before the California Senate and worked on legislative and political campaigns in several states, including Virginia and New York, in addition to PROTECT's work on federal legislation in Washington, D.C.

She has appeared on numerous television news programs discussing the legal and political issues surrounding child sexual abuse and exploitation. She came forward to tell the world about the sexual abuse she suffered in her own life, during her 2004 interview on Larry King Live.

She continues to be interviewed on this and other topics on Nancy Grace, CNN's Showbiz Tonight, The Insider, Court TV, and Bill O'Reilly'sThe Factor.
Alison currently lives somewhere in the wilds of Tujunga with her husband of over twenty years, musician Bob Schoonover, (from the rock and roll band "Catahoula") and their evil cat, Clarice. She takes pride in the fact that so many people enjoyed hating her as a girl and is more than happy to give them the opportunity to do so in the future.

For more info:
Website: http://www.hgd.com/alison/
French Website: http://www.alison-arngrim.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alison.arngrim
Tumblr: http://alisonarngrim.tumblr.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/arngrim

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As with many, I went through the list of 'Prairie' books as they were released. As a reader, I do not necessarily look to 'relate' to the author's life, because we are all clearly different, even though I have spent my life in the entertainment business and my work is still in it. What I do look for is the author's honesty in the details they do choose to share. I also like it if the author realizes that not all their readers have shared in their experiences. It is almost like wanting my doctor to talk to me in terms I can understand and relate, rather than in medical jargon. And even me having been in the business for most of my life, I can still read an actor's autobiography and go: "What in the world is he or she talking about?!"

First came Gilbert's 'Prairie Tale.' I liked the book, but the author failed to realize that her readers are, for the most part, completely removed from her reality. She relates to the reader as a 'peer,' failing to realize that they will mostly have little clue as to what it is like to be in her shoes (i.e. not everyone can run up to Montreal to find out what their boyfriends are up to). Many readers will also like to know what was it like 'being' in the Little House ambience. Gilbert goes through her Little House years rather fast, so if you blink, you may miss it. This is understandable, because she grew up there, so it became, for her, daily routine, but her audience may be wanting a bit more since this was not their routine, and may be hungry to know more. And it seemed that her book was more a therapeutic catharsis rather than sharing one on one with her readers. Again, understandably so, and the approach she chose, so I took it as that and went with it.
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Format: Hardcover
This was the third attempt for me to return to the the vintage "Little House on the Prairie". The first was by Half-Pint herself, in Prairie Tale: A Memoir. Her Little House days are recounted but by far, the majority of the tome is dedicated to her pill-popping and wild Hollywood life after the show. Then came the truly hideous The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House which half the book is merely episode recaps (really). So, I hoped upon hope that my third attempt to visit Walnut Grove in a book would be beneficial. Thankfully, the bully of the prairie has come through, and has given us a remarkable memoir in "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated".

Alison's memoir is a doozy. First, you get an inside glimpse into the making of the show, starting with a blow-by-blow account of how she got the role that would define her as an actress, the incomparable Nellie Oleson. One of the most surprisingly delightful recounts are the hours she spent in the hair and makeup rooms donning that truly hideous Nellie wig. Her insights into her costars are witty, slightly sarcastic, and eye-opening. Her friendship with Melissa Gilbert really make the chapters fun and she reserves some venom for Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary. There is plenty of dish on the people in the show, all in good fun and none of it comes across as nasty.

Another wonderfully touching part of her book is her recounting of her on screen husband, actor Steve Tracy, who was gay in real life.
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As a girl who grew up with Little House on the Prairie, I knew that I would enjoy this book. A Nellie Oleson tell all? I mean, who WOULDN'T want to read that!? And as a behind the scene look at the world of Little House, Prairie Bitch is detailed and funny, with wonderful descriptions of her costars. What I didn't realize when I pre-ordered it was Alison's work for survivors of sexual assault and her background as an assault survivor, along with the work she's done for years in support of people living with AIDS. She took what could have just been a breezy and funny childstar memoir and gave it deep substance and importance.
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While I watched Little House a few times as a kid, I didn't become a big fan until recently when I re-read the books from childhood and bought the boxed set when it was on sale at B&N. As a child, Nellie scared the daylights out of me - mostly because I was bullied a lot in school and she reminded me of those mean girls. As an adult, I kind of loved her brazen bitchy style. While she was annoying, she was pretty damn smart. I did like how she grew up though and was sad to see her leave the show (but was thrilled when she came back for visits).

Since I read "Prairie Tale" Amazon suggested that I may want to preorder Confessions of a Prairie Bitch... and I did, immediately. It sounded like a much more enjoyable read than the former book. While I liked Prairie Tale okay I didn't relate much to Melissa at all. I didn't grow up rich. I didn't have a seemingly great family. I didn't drink until I was 21. I never rebelled. So while her story was interesting to me, I couldn't really relate. It was also told in more of a dramatic sad fashion, than in the dark-humor fashion that I greatly prefer and understand.

I got Confessions the day it was release and it killed me to have to finish my book I was reading before I could delve into it (I'm anal like that). I kept looking at the cover just KNOWING a great story lied beneath it's pink pop art cover. While you can't always judge a book by its cover, this one is exactly what its cover depicts - sassy, spunky, edgy and hilarious.

While I didn't have a gay father, I had a similar abusive relationship with my older brother so from the early stages of this book I felt like Alison was a kindred spirit. It's rare to meet someone that has and appreciates dark humor and isn't weirded out by it.
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