Known for her role in the 1970s as the villainess Nellie Oleson in the classic television series "Little House on the Prairie," actress Alison Arngrim has turned that notoriety into gay fandom, reports The New York Times.
Arngrim, 51, tells The Times she spent years trying to shake her image, even playing a prostitute on "Fantasy Island," but failed. Her goal became even harder when "Little House" grew into a syndicated worldwide hit. Nellie was once voted as the No. 1 female villain in TV history, the story notes.
“I remember thinking, ‘Hmm, I’m not working much,’ ” she said. “Instead of fighting it, I decided to grab Nellie and run with her and never look back.”’
She added, “I turned toward the people who were still clapping the loudest for her.” That group? Gay men, the piece notes.
Ever since, she’s been working nonstop, including performing a one-woman show called "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" and signing autographs and selling copies of her 2010 memoir at gay-friendly establishments.
Nellie appeals to the gay crowd because of her clothing and her "quick turn of phrase," notes Lady Bunny, the D.J. drag queen.
"Little Nellie was hilarious with that hair and those petticoats, kind of like a drag queen in training,” Lady Bunny said. "Nellie was also a master of the quick turn of phrase to put people in their place. We always identify with that because it’s how we survived growing up."
Arngrim noted that her character is especially popular in France. "It’s similar to David Hasselhoff and Germany,” she said. “They don’t think Nellie is mean. They just think she’s French.”