Remembering when Leavenworth’s Arlene Wagner Was on Conan O’Brien

Conan O'Brien on TBS
CONAN on TBS Credit: Radio Formula Queretaro (via Facebook)

I remember the hype of Conan O’Brien’s TV talk show moving from NBC to TBS. The well-promoted debut was on Monday night, November 8th, 2010. Conan’s first guest was Arlene Wagner, the curator of Leavenworth’s Nutcracker Museum.

Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum CREDIT: Sarah Johnson (via Facebook)
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum CREDIT: Sarah Johnson (via Facebook)

How did Arlene Wagner land as the first guest?

The Nutcracker Museum’s curator appeared as Conan's debut guest - through a “rigged” poll on Viewers were given the options of Arlene Wagner, The Pope, Russia’s Prime Minister Putin, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Jack Nicholson. Conan's wife is from Seattle - and Team Coco's choice of Wagner was on-brand for being out of the box. Arlene’s on-stage appearance was brief. 

Arlene Wagner from the Nutcracker Museum
My daughter visited Arlene Wagner not long after the famous TV appearance on Conan O'Brien (circa 2011) CREDIT: Connor from KW3

Right after her brush with national fame, Arlene shared her experience with KING 5 TV in Seattle: 

‘it was really fun, she said. My granddaughter and I were flown down to Los Angeles and we were put up in a lovely room we had our own dressing room and all of the staff were exceedingly friendly. It was a delightful experience.’ - Then 85-year-old Arlene Wagner on KING-TV



What is Conan up to now?

Conan’s run on TBS would last for another 10 ½ years - until the Spring of 2021.


Conan the Podcaster

He now enjoys time as a podcaster with his Conan O'Brien "Needs a Friend" channel. 


Arlene Wagner in 2024

You can still visit with Arlene and her 9,000 nutcrackers at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.

Arlene, now 98 years old, still has the passion to entertain over 40,000 annual visitors to her shop - which boasts being the Nutcracker Museum with the largest collection anywhere in the World.

Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum CREDIT: Nguyen Thanh Van (via Facebook)

Haven’t been to the Nutcracker Museum? 

Put it on your bucket list and go!

The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum - 735 Front Street in beautiful downtown Leavenworth, WA


Through the Years: Conan O'Brien Has the Most Fun and These Photos Prove It

Conan O'Brien has had quite the entertainment journey. The Brookline, Massachusetts, native started out as a writer for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons before landing a late-night hosting gig that catapulted him into fame. Here are some of Coco's colorful moments over the years.

Boston's Conan O'Brien Sold His Totally Low-Key Beach House to a Kardashian

Gallery Credit: Jolana Miller