Dean Butler joined Little House on the Prairie as Almanzo Wilder in its sixth season. On the show, Butler portrayed the love interest of Melissa Gilbert’s character Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House on the Prairie ran from 1974 to 1983, and in its ninth and final season it was renamed Little House: A New Beginning to focus on the relationship between Laura and Almanzo.
For the book Little House on the Prairie from A to Z, Patrick Loubatière interviewed the cast members about their time on the show, and videos of the interviews were included on a DVD set of Little House on the Prairie. When he was interviewed by Loubatière, Butler described what it was like joining the cast of Little House on the Prairie.
Dean Butler auditioned for ‘Little House on the Prairie’ while in college
The audition process for the role of Almanzo was extensive. Producers knew that it was imperative for the right actor to be picked because Almanzo would be the love interest to the show’s main character.
“I was still in college during the time that Little House auditions came up,” Butler said. “I flew down on three different occasions. Two meetings were with the casting director Susan Sukman and the final meeting was with Michael Landon.”
Going into the auditions, Butler had a feeling he had a good chance at securing the part of Almanzo.
“It was one of those things where you sort of feel like something good can happen here,” Butler told Loubatière. “Cause there’s just a vibe in the room. You go in and you just sort of know it’s going to work well.”
Dean Butler’s audition with Michael Landon was special
As Butler continued the audition process, he became more confident that he would be cast as Almanzo.
“The first time I went in the room there was a stack of pictures a foot high on the table, the second time I came back there was a stack of pictures about an inch high on the table, and the third time I came in there were four pictures on the table,” Butler said.
In addition to starring on Little House on the Prairie as Charles Ingalls, Landon was a writer, producer, and director on the show. When Butler auditioned for Landon for his third audition, Landon watched Butler read for Almanzo while looking through his hands as if he was holding a camera.
“It was such a directorial thing to do,” Butler said of the moment. “It was a thrill to see that, knowing what a terrific director he was, and what a star he was.”
Dean Butler once said joining the cast of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was a ‘dream sequence’
After Butler’s last audition, Landon approached Butler and asked when he would be finished with school.
“I said ‘Well I graduate, I guess I finish on the 18th.’ He said ‘Perfect, I’ll see you on the 21st,’” Butler said. “I went through college graduation that weekend, on my birthday, and the following Monday started work on Little House.”
He added, “So, it was really a dream, it was really a dream sequence of time for me. It was wonderful.”
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