Michael Landon created the role of Albert Ingalls for a very specific reason in "Little House on the Prairie."


Michael Landon assumed the roles of executive producer, frequent director, and protagonist when he launched Little House on the Prairie in 1974.

 Landon, who portrayed the family man and farmer Charles Ingalls in the series based on the novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder, cast numerous child actors.

As a tribute to his dear friends Melissa Sue Anderson and Melissa Gilbert, who played Mary and Laura Ingalls, Landon decided to introduce another prominent family member.Matthew Laborteaux joined the company as Andrew Garvey, an Ingalls family friend. 

Matthew Laborteaux joined the cast of Little House in 1977 as Andrew Garvey. Matthew, his sibling, also landed a role, first as a young Charles in a flashback episode and then as a series regular. By the time he joined the cast in season 5 as the adopted son Albert of Charles and Caroline (Karen Grassle), Matthew had already surmounted numerous health obstacles.

 Both boys were adopted by Ron and Frankie Laborteaux, and Matthew's mother recalled the early difficulties Matthew encountered.Frankie told People in 1978 that the adoption agency told them he was born with a hole in his heart that would repair on its own. 

"However, they would never admit he was autistic. He did not walk or speak until 3 and 5 respectively. He slept upright in his crib, and when anyone attempted to lift him up, he screamed and tried to escape. I spent months on the floor holding Matthew down while he screamed and assuring him that I would love him no matter what he did.

As soon as Matthew accompanied Patrick to auditions, he was quickly asked to try out for roles."The lady asked Matthew if he wanted to take the test," Frankie recalled. "I was terrified. If anyone touched him, he would launch a tantrum. However, Matthew simply stood and followed her into the room. It was like smoking a cigarette while seated on a powder keg."

Matthew's aptitude for acting led to his selection for the Little House role. "I just adored him," Grassle said of the child actor. "I thought he was a great kid."

Little House personality Albert was created for a particular purpose.

Albert was introduced as a boy living on the streets in the large city when the Ingalls family moved from Walnut Grove to the city. When the Ingalls family moved back to their hometown, Albert was adopted into their family."

When he wrote the character of Albert, that was not in the books," Matthew recalled during a 2012 interview. Michael wished to have a son on the program, so this character was created.

Gilbert revealed the backstory regarding why the character of Albert was established, which touched Landon deeply."Albert was the result of a very personal tragedy for Michael and his family," explained Gilbert.

 "They had extremely close friendships... Eleanor and Ray had a son named Albert who was their firstborn. Albert, who was 18 or 19 years old at the time, was apparently killed by a car while pedaling his bicycle home in the evening. Michael designed the character Albert Ingalls as a tribute to Albert Muscatele.

Landon intended to incorporate the character as a tribute to his friend's family. Landon told People in 1978 about the promise he made to his friends, "If I ever found a boy with Albert's qualities, I'd put him on the show and call him Albert." Melissa Gilbert and Matthew Laborteaux instantly became siblings.

Apparently, Matthew blended in immediately with the Little House cast. He also viewed his co-stars as more like family, particularly Gilbert, who portrayed his sister."When I think about Melissa Gilbert, it's interesting because we grew up together," he stated.

 "On the one hand, it was a fellow actor, and it was about going to work, doing my job, and returning home. On the other hand, it was someone with whom I not only grew up, but who was my sister for a significant portion of my life."

The feeling was reciprocal. "Matthew was immediately accepted into the group," Gilbert said. As far as I was concerned, [he] became my brother immediately.

The final episode of Little House on the Prairie aired in March 1983.

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