‘Little House on the Prairie’ Creator May Have Changed Nellie Oleson’s Name Due to Being ‘Terrified’ of Her

by Joe Rutland
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“Little House on the Prairie” was based on the books written by Laura Ingalls. She may have changed one name out of a deep sense of fear.

Actor Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on the NBC family drama, said Ingalls made changes in the books.

“One of the changes she did, she did one or two characters that are composites and changed a couple of names,” Arngrim said during an interview with Pop Goes The Culture TV.

“She used real names [in the books]. Apparently, the Owens, as opposed to the Olesons, were the people who ran the store in Walnut Grove.

“Nellie and Willie Owens were the real names of the two children,” she said. “And, so, Nellie’s one of the people whose name she changed because she was still terrified of her and thought she would come after her. So I really like that.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Says Character Is In Ingalls’ Books

Arngrim said Nellie Oleson is in those books. Michael Landon used them to create “Little House on the Prairie” for the NBC series.

The Nellie character is based on an actual person buried in Tillamook, Ore.

“Laura Ingalls is a real person and she lived in the 1800s,” she said. “(She) used all the people that she knew in her town. Now I am told there were some things sort-of fudged like she ran two books together.”

Arngrim says things were sanitized because the books, when they came out, were “pretty cleaned up for kids.”

There is one instance where a chapter talks about Indians and settlers murdering one another, along with information about graves and bodies.

“They took that out,” she said. “They didn’t think it was appropriate for 9-year-old girls.”

Arngrim played Nellie Oleson between 1974 and 1981.

Show’s Pilot Nearly Pushed Back Because Of Massive Snowstorm

When “Little House on the Prairie” was getting ready to shoot its pilot episode, weather issues almost pushed it off schedule.

Show producer Kent McCray, in an interview from late 2017, shares how close the show came to not being able to film the episode.

“I looked out the window, and it was snowing and pretty good,” McCray said. “So, I got on the phone and called a gentleman, who was a Teamster, (and) I knew had a four-wheel-drive pickup. A guy by the name of Jim.

“I said, ‘Jim, I’ve got to go look at the location,’ which was outside of Columbia, California called Yankee Hill,” McCray said. “So we drove up there.”

McCray remembered how incredibly challenging the snowstorm made filming the episode.

“So, through Jim, he knew the people at the city plow department,” he said. “He got four trucks to go up and start plowing out the roads. We got most of the camera trucks in, a lot of the (other) trucks we did not get in because they didn’t have time to plow it all out.”

Outsider.com