‘Little House on the Prairie’: Karen Grassle Explained Why Alison Arngrim ‘Shined’ in Role’s Teen Years

by Will Shepard
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Karen Grassle played Caroline Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie for nine seasons. In the 1970s, she was certainly one of the most popular mothers on television.

But, she wasn’t the only centerpieces for Little House on the Prairie. One of the other stars of the show wasn’t part of the Ingalls family but slowly became a household name. Alison Arngrim played Nellie Oleson on the show for 104 episodes. Her character became one of the show’s trademarks.

Oleson is based on three characters from the original book series. So, when Alison Arngrim took on the role, it was immediately expanded on the show. Additionally, Arngrim played the part of a rude, confrontational child well. She was only twelve years old when she was cast in the role.

But, she played it so well that she was given a Young Artist Award–Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award for playing Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie.

Karen Grassle Explains How Incredible Alison Arngrim Was During “Little House on the Prairie”

In an interview from 2001, Karen Grassle talked about how incredible she was on Little House on the Prairie. Not only was she acting well beyond her years, but she was getting better with every scene she got. Those are certainly desirable traits for any actor.

During the interview, Barnaby Marriott asked Grassle about what Alison Arngrim was like. So, in a brief response, the co-star of Little House on the Prairie explained what the teenager was like.

“Alison began to shine as she hit her teen years. She wore wonderfully campy 50s outfits and, when she could drive, got a funny 50s car.”

Certainly, Alison Arngrim was an infectious person on the show. Not only was her acting helping to develop her name, but her personality was also helping her succeed.

While Karen Grassle talks about most of the actors on Little House on the Prairie, it seems like she holds a special place for teenage Arngrim. The two actresses had a number of scenes together, so her praise is likely very genuine.

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