If you asked a Little House fan (books or TV show) the question, “What’s Almanzo’s favorite food?” you’d get two distinct answers: “pancakes” (book people) and “cinnamon chicken” (TV show). You’d also get two answers if you asked a seemingly simple question like “How do you pronounce his name?”
Almanzo Wilder first showed up on TV in September of 1979. I picture a table reading in L.A. the previous spring, where someone (Michael Landon? Lucy Lee Flippin?) who never heard the real Laura’s voice had to say his name for the first time. They looked down at the script, considered the spelling, and chose … Al-MON-zo.
The rest is mispronounciation history, well into its third decade with no sign of slowing.
In actuality, Laura’s husband’s name is Al-MAN-zo, where the “man” is pronounced like “hand.” (Think about it: why was he called “Mannie” or even “Manly”?) You can hear it for yourself on the recording “Laura Ingalls Wilder Speaks,” available at some homesite gift shops, where Laura’s own elderly, shaky voice can be heard clearly referencing her husband as Al-MAN-zo.
That’s why, in your travels through the Little House homesites, you’ll hear two different pronounciations of Almanzo’s name. The TV show’s reach is wide–and global–so the incorrect pronounciation is the most prevalent. But we purists are dedicated. We like to educate. The more respectful among us will simply pronounce the name the way we know to be correct, explaining why if asked; others may outright correct you faster than you can say “cinnamon chicken.”
Even Dean Butler, the actor who played Almanzo, through his work with the homesites and his interaction with rabid book fans, has changed his pronounciation for what is, for all intents and purposes, his own name.
Now that’s respectful.