DAVID FLYNN talks to Alison Arngrim one of the stars of ‘The Little House on the Prairie’.


She was the most recognisable bad girl on television throughout the 1970s, and starred in a hugely popular series which featured in a regular Sunday teatime slot on RTÉ. Her pretty face, blonde curls and nasty actions in a schoolyard during the days of the Wild West were legendary. It all made ‘Nellie Oleson’ the girl that tv viewers loved to hate throughout the decade.

The smash hit tv series ‘Little House on the Prairie’ gave a view of wilderness family life in the first decade after the US Civil War. It was loosely based on a number of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder in the 1930s, and widely read by many schoolchildren.

The books and television series were set around a small rural town in Minnesota, USA with characters such as farmer Charles Ingalls and his family. Oleson’s General Store in the town was run by Nels Oleson and his snobby wife, Harriet. The Olesons had two young children, the spoiled Nellie and the gormless but likeable, Willie.

The star of the tv series was originally Michael Landon who played Charles Ingalls. He was also the Executive Producer of Little House on the Prairie, which began in 1974 and he directed and wrote many of the episodes. The programme was nominated for many awards and won some for music and cinematography.

As the 1970s moved on the younger characters became more prominent in storylines, and Charles’ daughter, Laura Ingalls, (played by Melissa Gilbert) had childhood battles with Nellie Oleson, which became a huge part of the series.

The two characters were seen by audiences as good versus evil, with a mixture of rich and poor.
In real-life both actresses were close friends, which is something they have maintained for almost fifty years.

It’s well-known in Hollywood tv and movie circles that actress Alison Arngrim is the opposite of the famous nasty character, Nellie Oleson, which she made world-famous. In fact, she is a very funny lady and a popular stand-up comedienne who has worked the cabaret circuit on all continents.

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