Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Almanzo!

It's hard to believe that February 13, 2010 marks the 153rd birthday of Almanzo James Wilder, the young boy whose youth was immortalized by his wife, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in Farmer Boy.

Growing up we read about Almanzo's huge appetite, his love of farming, and his desire to raise his own Morgan horses. We read further on in the Little House series and discovered Almanzo, now as a young man, running a store in town, where he meets his future wife. We learn how that brave young man risked his life to keep the people of De Smet from starving during the Hard Winter. Then we follow Laura and Almanzo's courtship and their first few years of marriage.

Years later, these beloved books would become a television series. Starting with Season 6 of Little House on the Prairie, actor Dean Butler would bring Almanzo James Wilder to life for fans of Laura's books. Through four seasons and three television movies, Dean's portrayal of Almanzo would capture the shy, quiet man who loved farming and horses.

Nearly twenty years later, Walt Goggins portrayed Almanzo Wilder in the two Beyond the Prairie movies. While his portrayal of Almanzo was different from Dean's, I always felt Goggins was able to capture the essence of the Almanzo I had learned so much about over the years.

Who knows what else the future will hold for Laura's fans. Dean Butler has already produced some of the bonus material included with the Little House on the Prairie DVDs. Butler's Legacy Documentaries brand came out with Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, which is available through the Wilder Homestead, and Butler is working on a documentary about the legendary children's author now.

As we celebrate Almanzo's birthday, we also are thankful for the many people who continue to support Laura's legacy, and hope that the love for Laura's books and the many productions based upon them continues to grow for generations to come!

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