Alison Arngrim
Birth Date:
January 18, 1962
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
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Little House On The Prairie


“I'm one of the few child stars you'll ever meet who hasn't been to Betty Ford, posed nude for Playboy, shot my drug dealer or held up a video store. Melissa Gilbert and I were at a party once and we talked about what's happening to all the child stars from 'Diff'rent Strokes.' I've never felt that Dana Plato or Todd Bridges were wrapped real tight. I remember how on the set of 'Little House,' they told us over and over again, ‘Don't play with the children from Diff'rent Strokes.'” Alison Arngrim

Former child actress Alison Arngrim is best recognized as the evil Nellie Oleson on the long running television series “Little House On The Prairie,” a role she portrayed from 1974 to 1982. She earned a Young Artist nomination for her portrayal and later was honored with the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2002 Young Artist Awards. She also picked up a 2006 TV Land Award for Character Most Desperately in Need of a Timeout and a 2008 TV Land nomination for Siblings That Make You Grateful for Your Own Crazy Family.

After her success on “Little House On The Prairie,” Arngrim became an activist for AIDS and abused children. She has worked with AIDS Project Los Angeles, Tuesday's Child and the National Association to Protect Children. Arngrim also performs standup comedy at various nightclubs. Her one woman show, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch,” has been very successful.

Arngrim, who was named one of VH1's “100 Greatest Kid Stars” (2005), was recently seen in the films “For the Love of May” (2000), “The Last Place on Earth” (2002), “Le Deal” (2007) and “Make the Yuletide Gay” (2009).

Arngrim has been married to musician Robert Paul Schoonover since 1993. They reside in Los Angeles. She was previously married to Donald Mark Spencer (together from 1989 to 1993). Arngrim is a vegetarian and a good friend of former “Little House On The Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert. She stated, “Everyone thinks that she (Melissa Gilbert) is my mortal enemy. I swear, to this day, people are still asking me, ‘So, do you really hate her? Do you still see her?’ What people find almost impossible to believe is that she's practically like my baby sister. If you're going to play people like that on a show, where you're smacking each other in the head all the time, you're going to have to become friends and Melissa and I became friends the first day. We both wanted a friend on set, someone to be like a sister to us, and we hit it off right away. To this day, it's as if we're related. We grew up together. We share so many memories and so many things in our minds that are the same.”

Showbiz Family

Childhood and Family:

Alison Margaret Arngrim was born on January 18, 1962, in New York City. Her mother, Norma MacMillan, was a popular voice actress and her father, Thor Arngrim, was a co-executive producer of the TV film “All the Kind Strangers” (1974). Alison has an older brother named Stefan Arngrim (born on December 23, 1955), who is also an actor and an accomplished musician.

Alison was married to her first husband, Donald Mark Spencer, from April 8, 1989, to April 8, 1993. On November 6, 1993, she married Robert Paul Schoonover, who is a musician. She has a stepdaughter from him.

“I am now married to a very nice man 13 years older than I am, who doesn't think I'm too young at all. He has long hair, enjoys lime JELL-O, reads science fiction and is half Sicilian. They say certain preferences are set early in life. I wouldn't know.” Alison Arngrim

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch


With the help of her brother, 7 year old Alison Arngrim landed her first role in a 1969 episode of the James L. Brooks created drama series “Room 222” called “Triple Date.” Five years later, she debuted on the big screen with a supporting role in “Throw Out the Anchor” (1974), a comedy written and directed by John Hugh.

However, Arngrim did not receive a massive breakthrough until she won the role of Nellie Oleson on the family drama “Little House On The Prairie” (NBC, 1974-1983), whose main cast members also included Michael London, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson, Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, Matthew Laborteaux, Richard Bull, and Katherine MacGreg. She was on the show from 1974 to 1982. Arngrim, who originally auditioned for the role of Laura Ingalls, enjoyed worldwide fame for playing Nellie and was nominated for a 1981 Young Artist for Best Young Comedienne for her performance. Decades later, she was awarded a Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2002 Young Artist Awards and a 2006 TV Land Award in the category of Character Most Desperately in Need of a Timeout. Sharing with Jonathan Gilbert, she also earned a TV Land nomination in 2008 for Siblings That Make You Grateful for Your Own Crazy Family.

While on “Little House on the Prairie,” Arngrim made a guest appearance in an episode of “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat” (both 1981). After leaving the show, she was cast as Amy in the NBC movie of the week “I Married Wyatt Earp” (1983), which was directed by Michael O'Herlihy. The docudrama, based on the memoirs of Josephine Marcus Earp, a young opera singer from San Francisco, detailed the story of how she became the wife of renowned lawman Wyatt Earp. The movie starred Marie Osmond as Josephine 'Josie' Marcus and Bruce Boxleitner as Wyatt Earp. Arngrim also worked as a poster model for three years.

Arngrim returned to the screen in the early 2000s when she portrayed Jude in the short “For the Love of May” (2000), which was written and directed by Mary Beth McDonough. She also appeared in a small role in James Slocum's “The Last Place on Earth” (2002), starring Tisha Campbell-Martin and Dana Ashbrook. Arngrim did not take on another film role until she landed the supporting role of Edith in the French detective comedy “Le Deal” (2007), helmed by Jean-Pierre Mocky and starring Jean-Claude Dreyfus.

On stage, Arngrim has performed in such productions as “Hidden In The Laughter,” “The Wool Gatherer,” “Sirena: Queen of the Tango,” “Cry Of Players,” “Butterflies Are Free,” “AIDS/US II,” “Dear Brutus,” “In One Bed And Out The Other,” “Last Summer At Bluefish Cove” and “Flirting with Morty” (played Ray Lee). She has also toured the U.S. and Canada as a standup comedian and headlined well known nightclubs, including the Laugh Factory, the Improv, the Comedy Store, and the Cutting Room in New York. Arngrim's one woman show, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch,” has been a huge success.

Recently, in 2009, Arngrim played Heather Mancuso in “Make the Yuletide Gay,” a small budget gay themed holiday film starring Keith Jordan that was directed and written by Rob Williams.


  • TV Land: Character Most Desperately in Need of a Timeout, “Little House on the Prairie,” 2006

  • Young Artist: Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award, “Little House on the Prairie,” 2002

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