Two of the most respected actresses in the deaf community are Phyllis Frelich and Linda Bove.
Things in Common
Two deaf actresses who deserve most of the credit for helping to increase public awareness of deafness in the 70s and 80s are Phyllis Frelich and Linda Bove. The two have much in common: Both Frelich and Bove were born to deaf parents. Each actress had attended a school for the deaf, and had gone to Gallaudet.
Bove's long-running role on Sesame Street as Linda the Librarian has introduced generations of hearing children to sign language. Her stage history includes a stint with the National Theatre of the Deaf. In addition, she has made successful videos, such as "Sign Me a Story." She has also been featured in children's sign language books such as "Sesame Street Sign Language Fun with Linda Bove."
Both have appeared on television in guest roles on popular shows. Bove appeared in "Happy Days" as Fonzie's girlfriend Allison in episode #162. Frelich was most recently seen on "E.R." and "Diagnosis Murder." Frelich has also performed in Hallmark Hall of Fame's made-for-tv movie "Love is Never Silent."
Each woman has a history intertwined with perhaps the most famous play about deafness, "Children of a Lesser God." Frelich starred as Sarah Norman on Broadway. I remember going to see her perform, and hoping I would get a chance to meet her backstage (I didn't). For her excellent performance, Frelich won a Tony award. Bove also played Sarah Norman in various productions of the play.
Even though the hearing world knows them primarily through their television and Broadway performances, Frelich and Bove both have a long history with the theatre. Both have performed on stage together. Deaf West Theatre showcased both of them in a play.
Frelich's stage resume has continued to grow, with a role as "Edna Basker" in Deaf West Theatre's "Road to Revolution." Frelich had small roles as "Aunt Sally" and "Miss Watson" in the Broadway play "Big River."