New at the library

As summer comes to an end, here are a few biographies you may be interested in reading. They are about people we most likely met on television and after they left, are wondering what happened to them after they weren’t on the tube anymore.

Confessions Of A Prairie Bitch, How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim. For seven years, Alison Arngrim played a wretched, scheming, selfish, lying, manipulative brat on one of TV history’s most beloved series. Though millions of “Little House On The Prairie” viewers hated Nellie Oleson and her evil antics, Arngrim grew to love her character, and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her. Arngrim describes growing up in Hollywood with her eccentric parents. She recalls her most cherished and often wickedly funny moments behind the scenes of “Little House,” from Michael Landon’s unsaintly habits, how her and Melissa Gilbert became best friends, and the only time she and her Little Prairie mom, Katherine MacGregor, appeared in public in costume, provoking a posse of elementary schoolgirls to attach them. Arngrim describes how Nellie Oleson taught her to be bold, daring, and determined, and how she is eternally grateful to have had the biggest little bitch on the prairie to show her the way.

The Way I See It, A Look Back At My Life On Little House by Melissa Anderson. When other girls her age were experiencing their first crushes, Melissa was receiving handwritten marriage proposals from fans as young, and younger, than she was. When other girls were dreaming of their first kiss, Melissa was struggling through hers in front of a camera. From age 11 in 1974 until she left the show in 1981, Melissa literally grew up before the viewers of “Little House on the Prairie.” Melissa, as Mary, is remembered by many as “the blind sister,” and she was the only actor in the series to be nominated for an Emmy. She takes readers onto the set and inside the world of the iconic series created by Michael Landon. In addition to stories of life on the set, Melissa offers revealing looks at her relationships off-set with her costars, and guess appearances on iconic programs such as “The Love Boat” and “The Brady Bunch.” This book is a portrait of a child star who became a successful adult actress and a successful adult.

Here’s The Story , Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice by Maureen McCormick. Marcia Brady, eldest daughter on television’s “The Brady Bunch,” had it all, style, looks, boys, brains and talent. No wonder her younger sister Jan was jealous. Marcia was the ideal American teenager. Girls wanted to be her. Boys wanted to date her. But what viewers didn’t know, was Maureen was living a very different and not so wonderful life. She reveals the lifelong friendships, hurtful jealousies, off screen romance, and the inconsolable loss of a man who had been a second father. Maureen landed on the dark side, caught up in a fast-paced, drug-fueled, star-studded Hollywood existence that ultimately led to the biggest battle of her life. After kicking her drug habit, she battled depression, reconnected with her mother and triumphed through family problems. Maureen is a survivor. Her story is empowering, engaging, shocking, and tells an emotional tale of her courageous struggle over adversity and her lifelong battle to come to terms with the idea of perfection, and herself.

I, Rhoda, a memoir by Valerie Harper. As Mary Richard’s lovable and self-deprecating best friend Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Valerie Harper, too, turned the world on with her smile. Viewers could relate to Rhoda, native New Yorker and struggling working girl, who was unlucky in love and insecure about her weight but who always kept her sense of humor. Harper was an unknown actress when she won the part that made her famous, and by the time Rhoda, her popular spin-off show, ended, she had won four Emmys and a Golden Globe. The role was ground-breaking. On screen, she represented a self-reliant new identity for women of the 1970s while off screen she fought alongside feminists Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug for equal rights, among other issues that were important to her. Harper’s showbiz journey has taken her from Broadway, where she performed as a dancer and eventually found herself onstage with Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason, to Hollywood, where she went down in history as one of television’s best-loved characters, and back to the Great White Way, where she recently won a Tony Award nomination for her critically acclaimed role as Tallulah Bankhead. Her inspiring story is laced with triumphs and a few transformative obstacles along the way, but she remains upbeat and funny throughout, always confident that no matter what, she’s going to make it after all.

– Arlette Dubord

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