It has always been a dream of mine to meet Alison Arngrim. Alison is the very talented actress that played Nellie Oleson in the Little House on the Prairie TV series. When I was visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, I saw an advertisement for a fundraiser luncheon. One of the speakers was Alison!
Each year the Cherry Blossom Festival is held in Marshfield, Missouri. It’s a three-day event full of entertainment. There are concerts, plays, informative talks and meet and greets with interesting people from all over the world. You can meet celebrities, war heroes, presidential descendants, authors and more. This year’s guests included Randy Travis, Uncle Si (Duck Dynasty), Holocaust survivors, descendants of Titanic survivors and many actors from ‘70s & ‘80s hit TV shows just to name a few.
During this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival a luncheon was held to raise money to restore Laura’s Crazy Quilt, owned by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Association. The speakers included Alison, Charlotte Stewart (Ms. Beadle) and William Anderson (writer and Laura expert).
I wanted to arrive early because I was hoping for a chance to speak to Alison. Boy did that pay off! As soon as I entered the building a greeter told me that Alison and Charlotte were signing autographs and visiting with people in the next room. I turned around, hurried to the car and grabbed my backpack that had my Laura doll inside. I customized the American Girl doll Julie with a brown wig to create my Laura doll. I went back in the building and into the meet and greet room and there she was! Nellie Oleson!
Even though I had never met Alison, her voice was so familiar! You can just hear Nellie as she says certain words and phrases. She has written a book about what it was like to grow up as a hated child and how she grew to embrace being “nasty Nellie”. She told me that people still ask her husband “so what’s that like” in reference to being married to her.
“Any idiot can be liked. It takes talent to scare the crap out of people.” – Alison Arngrim
After telling her about my Dandridge House Dolls blog, I asked if she would mind taking a picture with my Laura doll and her response was classic! She said, “Absolutely, can I beat her up?” 😂 I replied, “I hoped you would!”
After handing her Laura, she immediately pulled her braid and then started choking her. I had a blast getting to meet Alison and talk with her and the luncheon hadn’t even started yet!
For lunch, we were served Laura Ingalls Wilder’s own recipes. We enjoyed chicken, potatoes with gravy, green beans and apple cobbler. Alison, Charlotte and William began their talk while we ate. Charlotte told about her audition for Ms. Beadle and what it was like to work with Michael Landon. William shared about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and her history. Alison shared how she had originally auditioned for the part of Laura and in her Nellie voice added “wouldn’t that have been awful”. After the show began she was sent a script for Nellie’s part and the rest is history. Alison and Charlotte told us of their Little House experiences with one story after another.
While we were eating, some food in the kitchen got a little over cooked and the smoke detectors starting going off. Alison didn’t miss a beat and joked, “it’s the cinnamon chicken episode all over again”. 😂 If you’re not familiar with the episode, Nellie is going to cook Almanzo’s favorite meal, cinnamon chicken. Since she can’t cook, Nellie gets Laura to do it. As a prank, Laura covers the chicken in cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon.
It was a wonderful day and one I will always remember. If you ever have the chance to see Alison in person I hope you take it!