HAPPY DAYS/ABC/1974-1984 (Deaf)
Allison (Linda Bove), a hearing-impaired woman who worked as a receptionist at the electric company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who becomes the love interest of Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) on the episode “Allison” (Season #7 Episode #19 aired February 12, 1980).
The Fonz first meets Allison when he attempts to straighten out an electric company billing error for his friend Howard “Mr. C” Cunningham (Tom Bosley).
Allison is unaffected by the Fonz’s “Charisma” (like most of the ladies), so he feels that Allison may be the “one.” His friend Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) thinks that the Fonz may be giving the woman false hopes about a relationship, that is “leading her on.”
But when Fonzie tells Allison via sign language that he holds her dear in his heart, she reveals that she just accepted a proposal from a man with whom she worked. It was the Fonz dating the woman that made her coworker (who was not disabled) realize how special Allison was and that he wanted to marry her.
Note: Earlier episodes of HAPPY DAYS dealing with the topic of disabilities appeared on “The Mechanic” (Season #7 Episode #12 aired December 12, 1979) as Fonzie hires a new assistant at his garage who is confined to a wheelchair; and on the episode “Fonzie’s Blindness” (Season #6 Episode #4 aired September 26, 1978) when the Fonz is temporary blinded by a blow to the head and becomes filled with self-pity until his friend, Richie Cunningham helps Arthur face up to his fears.
See also: Sesame Street
PICKET FENCES/CBS/1992-96 (Deaf)
Laurie Bey (Marlee Matlin), a self-proclaimed modern day Robin Hood with a hearing disability seen on the drama PICKET FENCES/CBS/1992-95.
Outraged at the government’s pork barrel spending, Laurie went on a four-year crime spree robbing banks and redistributing the funds to people who really needed them-in one case, victims of a flood disaster.
Bold in her endeavors, she ended each of her capers with a little dance performance in an attempt to humanize her deed and create a positive folklore in case she was arrested. Her antics earned her the nickname “The Dancing Bandit.”
On the March 3, 1995 episode, Laurie was captured and put on trial. She so endeared the jury that they delivered a verdict of “not” guilty at which the judge outraged at their “putrid” decision-based on sentiment rather than fact-gave Laurie Bey 3000 hours of community service. Laurie, who was fluent in sign language, was later elected Mayor of Rome, Wisconsin.
PICKET FENCES/CBS/1992-96 (Little Person)
Ginny Weeden (Zelda Rubenstein), 4′ 3″ tall eavesdropping, busybody of a receptionist with a high-pitched raspy voice who worked for the police department in the town of Rome, Wisconsin.
The Ginny Weeden character appeared on 44 episodes of PICKET FENCES from 1992 to 1994.
- On episode “High Tidings” (1992), Ginny Weedon is held hostage by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve with Police officer Maxine “Max” Stewart (Lauren Holly).
- On episode “Rights of Passage” (1993), Ginny Weedon leads a protest of Little People (Dwarfs) offended by the use of hormones to stimulate the growth of an undersized little boy.
- On episode “Cold Spell (1994) Police officers Maxine Stewart and Kenny Lacos (Costas Mandylor) sought out Ginny for advice on the occult only to discover her body frozen to death after falling into her home freezer chest. Ginny had retired as a receptionist from the police force.
Note: Born May 28, 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, actress Zelda Rubenstein died from complications from a heart attack (kidney and lung failure) at Barlow Respiratory Hospital on January 27, 2010 (age 76) in Los Angeles, California.
“It’s absolutely despicable. You’re not an actor if you’re just a person that fits into a cute costume. You’re a prop.” – Rubenstein on little persons in the movies.
Rubenstein formed the non-profit Michael Dunn Memorial Repertory Theatre Company in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. It was named after the late Oscar-nominated actor, also a little person and highly successful on film and TV. The membership included actors whose height ranged from 3′ 8″ to 4′ 6″.
Rubenstein is best remembered as the ghost-busting psychic in the movie Poltergeist (1982) and its subsequent sequels in Poltergeist II (1986) and Poltergeist III (1988).
See also: Picket Fences (2)