Dean Butler, who portrayed Almanzo Wilder on the popular television series “Little House on the Prairie,” became deeply interested in the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and her history. Even though the television show has been off the air for more than twenty years, Dean works diligently to pass the story on to others.
Dean came on to the “Little House on the Prairie” set at the age of twenty-three and was cast as the love interest to the fifteen-year-old actress playing Laura, Melissa Gilbert. He was caught up in the story and spent time reading the book that features their courtship, “These Happy Golden Years.” He admits to the discrepancy between the way their relationship was handled in the book vs. the way it was shown on television, and says he wishes they could have kept the storyline a little more close to reality, but he says he does appreciate the way it came off on film.
After reading “These Happy Golden Years,” he read “Farmer Boy,” the book author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her husband’s childhood. He was intrigued to learn about the roots of his character, and today owns a production company called “Peak Moore Enterprises.” This company is filming a documentary entitled “Almanzo Wilder: Life before Laura,” which will be available this summer.
I found it fascinating to visit Dean’s blog and his website, as well as the Wilder Homestead website, and learn more about this project and the other things Dean has been involved with. “The Little House on the Prairie – The Musical” will open this summer in Minneapolis, with Melissa Gilbert as Caroline Ingalls. Dean talks joyfully about this opening on his blog, and you can see how much it means to him.
It’s not often we hear of an actor working so hard to keep a piece of history alive, especially a piece of history he’s been privileged to reenact. My hat is off to Dean and I wish him the best in all future endeavors.
My thanks to Families.com member Cheryl Malandrinos for bringing these websites to my attention. I’ve been in “Little House on the Prairie” heaven for days now.