‘Little House on the Prairie’: Alison Arngrim Once Got a Cup of Orange Soda Thrown at Her Head

Little House on the Prairie fans know all too well that there were quite a few colorful characters on the show. But perhaps the one that everyone loved to hate was, of course, Nellie Oleson. Famed for her nasty and bold ways, Nellie is nothing short of a bully, and fans of the show were often appalled by her behavior. In fact, Alison Arngrim (who was cast as Nellie) played the role so well that she personally faced the wrath of angered fans on occasion.

Little House on the Prairie star Alison Arngrim in character
Alison Arngrim | NBCU Photo Bank

Funnily enough, Arngrim wasn’t anything like her character growing up. In fact, she wasn’t even looking to play Nellie when she first auditioned for Little House on the Prairie. In an interview with Zoomer, Arngrim shared that she initially auditioned for both Laura Ingalls and Mary Ingalls. However, since the role of Laura was so coveted, casting gave her the opportunity to try out for Nellie instead. Arngrim took the opportunity and ran with it and was hired pretty much on the spot.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ cast member, Alison Arngrim, reflects on her infamous character

Playing Nellie gave Arngrim a sense of freedom because the part was so outlandish. “I was very shy as a kid—I was more the type who got beaten up by a Nellie Oleson in the schoolyard,” the Little House on the Prairie alum shared. “This character was the opposite of me—I was never that brazen, and the things Nellie did and said to people I would never dare do or say. But I got to be somebody else completely and it was outrageous.”

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While playing a villain at such a young age could have proven to be challenging for someone so young, Arngrim’s upbringing helped her navigate the role and the backlash that she sometimes faced from Little House on the Prairie fans who didn’t realize she was simply playing a character. Arngrim was a part of a showbiz family and lots of her parents’ friends were actors as well, so she learned early on how to separate people from the characters they played.

Arngrim often had to deal with the wrath of fans

Since Arngrim was always able to keep her personality and her character separate, it was a bit jarring to her when some Little House on the Prairie fans couldn’t do the same. In fact, the actor had some pretty intense fan encounters thanks to playing nasty Nellie. She was even accosted at a parade once by a fan who clearly wasn’t a fan of Nellie’s behavior.

“I mean, the things people have said to me—you wouldn’t believe it!” Arngrim confessed. “One time I was in a Christmas parade and someone [in the crowd] threw a cup of orange soda at my head. People have freaked out when I’m around.” Clearly, Little House on the Prairie fans were very triggered by the character that Arngrim was tasked to play. Though we imagine it was challenging for the actor to deal with the wrath of fans at times, it seems she took it all in stride. Furthermore, she can take pride in the fact that she created a character that caused such intense feelings.