You Say Almanzo, I Say Almanzo–Say What?


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.

My friend Dean. :)


4 thoughts on “You Say Almanzo, I Say Almanzo–Say What?

  1. And here I thought his favorite food was fried apples ‘n onions!
    Don’t banish me from the group, but I admit that I still slip on the name sometimes.

    • You’re right. Almanzo’s favorite food was apples n’ onions.It’s said in the books and I think I also read that in the Little House Cookbook. I’m sure it was made clear in Farmer Boy. On The Way Home is a good one to read, too.

  2. Drat that television imprint on my brain! Do you have any idea how difficult it was to retrain myself when I was in the early stages of preparing my programs? Ugh! So many years of reading and never NEEDING to pronounce his name. Then, suddenly, I had to force myself to not only be comfortable pronouncing it correctly, but also to be certain I referred to him as the real LIW would when she had been married to him for about a decade. “Mr. Wilder” “Manly” “Mannie” “Al-MAN-zo” each come up, depending upon the question asked of me or the setting in which “Bessie” is speaking. Every once in a while at an event, usually in a one-on-one scenario after the formal program, I find myself struggling to say it correctly because EVERYONE in the audience has been using the “tv” pronunciation, and I have all I can do to NOT mimic what I am hearing from everyone else. It is very humbling!

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