‘Little House on the Prairie’: Alison Arngrim Broke Down All the Abuse Nellie Received on Show

by Anna Dunn

Little House on The Prairie’s Alison Arngrim once spoke about all the ways Nellie suffered on the show. Nellie, often referred to as Nasty Nellie, was one of the main antagonists of the series. She jokes about how Nellie got bested by the characters a lot, and how it was “always into the water.”

“It was always down the hill in a wheelchair into the pond… into the mud… into the river… they were constantly trying to drown me,” she joked. The infamous wheelchair scene is one of the best-known moments from Little House on The Prairie.

But that wasn’t the only way Nellie suffered. In a much more intense note, Nellie often received harsh abuse from her father.

“It was the 1800s,” she said in a 2013 interview with Tom Gregory. “When people were quite harsh and vicious. People getting belts and sticks was the order of the day.” In the show, Nellie’s father, Mr. Oleson, would often get his belt off the wall.

For the most part, however, Arngrim simply provided years of comedic relief. Her character was the “love to hate” type that permanently cemented Arngrim into TV history. Now, Arngrim is a comedian unafraid to embrace her identity as “the mean one” from Little House on The Prairie.

The ‘Little House on The Prairie’ Star Grew Up With Family in the Spotlight

Like many child stars, Arngrim wasn’t the only person in her family in show business. In fact, show business was such a normal part of her existence that she didn’t realize people existed outside of it as a little kid.

“My whole family was in the business. My mother and father were both actors out of Canada, had been in New York. I had a brother who was also working in television. My aunt was a concert soprano. My uncle was a classical violinist,” she said. “I thought everyone was in show business. Until I was seven years old, I actually thought everyone was on television,” she said.

Arngrim got the role of Nellie Oleson when she was 12. Apparently, she made producer Michael Landon laugh so hard that he was “in tears” during her audition. Now, she does comedy routines and one-woman shows. She also advocates for safer working environments for children in Hollywood. Her comedy routine consistently honors the time she spent as Nellie and all the good (and the bad) that came with that.