Linda Bove

Linda Bove
Born ( 1945 -11-30) November 30, 1945
Garfield, New Jersey

Linda Bove (born November 30, 1945) is a deaf American actress who performed as Linda the Librarian on the PBS children's series Sesame Street from 1971 to 2003.

Early life and education

Bove was born deaf in Garfield, New Jersey, to two deaf parents. As a child, she attended St. Joseph School for the Deaf in Bronx, New York, and then Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in Trenton, New Jersey from which she graduated in 1963. She attended Gallaudet University for college where she studied library science. From there, she became interested in theatre. She participated in several theatrical productions at Gallaudet including The Threepenny Opera and poetic characterizations of the Spoon River Anthology. In her senior year at Gallaudet University, she studied in a Summer School Program at the National Theater for the Deaf.

In 1970, Bove married Ed Waterstreet, another deaf actor. They met while working together with the National Theatre for the Deaf.[1]

Bove is still an active member of the deaf arts community.



Bove appeared in an episode of Happy Days as Allison, Arthur Fonzarelli's deaf girlfriend. She also performed on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow.

With her role on Search for Tomorrow, Bove became one of the first deaf actresses to become a regular on a soap opera series. She performed as a member of the National Theater of the Deaf,[2] founded in 1967.

Sesame Street

Bove debuted on Sesame Street circa 1971-72 as the deaf character Linda. On Sesame Street, she has introduced millions of children to sign language and issues surrounding the deaf community. Her character owns a very playful dog, Barkley. Her role on Sesame Street lasted from 1971[3] to 2003, making it the longest running role for a deaf person in television history. Also, in her role on Sesame Street, she increased public awareness of deaf culture and made it known that being deaf was not shameful.[4]

Initially a part-time cast member, by the mid-late 1970s, Bove became a full-fledged and more regular cast member and she was portrayed as being in a romantic relationship with Bob on the show.

In addition to playing Linda, Bove appeared frequently in various sketches and silent film segments, where she was often paired up with Sonia Manzano (Maria). She often played a supporting role in Manzano's Charlie Chaplin silent film sketches (with occasional voiceovers), usually as a pretty woman, but did play a second Tramp if two were needed (e.g. the mirror sketch and the opening umbrellas sketch). Manzano and Bove worked in many other sketches together, both with and without dialogue - on-camera or voiceover.

Deaf Theatre

In the 1970s, Bove and some of her colleagues started a company called Little Theatre of the Deaf to attract more deaf people, as well as children. This company gained national and international attention. The company dealt with communication among deaf people and the importance of teaching sign language to deaf children.

In 1979, Bove and the NTD traveled on a 30,000 mile world tour. Their biggest success was in Japan where they were well received. There, they were invited to come on a television show and later, their show was attended by the royal family.

Bove was, with Waterstreet, one of the founders of the Deaf West Theater Company in Los Angeles in 1991, which was the first of its kind based on deaf actors and actresses. In this company, she starred in a play produced by George Bernard Shaw called Saint Joan based on Joan of Arc. The plays performed by this company were translated into sign language and adjusted accordingly in order to make sense. This company uses speech along with signs in order to help bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.[5]

Not only did Bove help found the Deaf West Theater Company, she was also involved in a number of projects pertaining to the deaf community. Several of her involvements were related to children as well as the deaf. She had a brief “role” in The Land Before Time IV. When the characters, which were dinosaurs, would talk in the movie, she would have a pop-up box in the corner of the video and interpret what they were saying using sign language. She also made videos, such as Sign Me a Story.

Bove has starred in several productions of the stageplay Children of a Lesser God.[2]


Year Film Role Notes
1971 Sesame Street Linda the Librarian TV series, 1971–2003
1973 Search for Tomorrow Melissa Hayley Weldon TV Series, unknown episodes
1978 Christmas Eve on Sesame Street Linda the Librarian TV Movie
1979 A Walking Tour of Sesame Street TV Movie
1980 Happy Days Allison TV Series, one episode "Allison"
1983 Don't Eat the Pictures Linda the Librarian TV Movie
1985 Follow that Bird TV Movie
1986 Children of a Lesser God Marian Loesser Movie
1987 Sign me a Story Herself, Various Characters Educational video featuring signed versions of fairy tales
1989 Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting Herself TV Special
1996 Somebody to Love Computer Voice only
2005 Friends to the Rescue Linda the Librarian Direct to video
2010 Weeds Child Protective Services Officer 3 Episodes




  1. "National Theater of the Deaf - Milestones". Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  2. 1 2 "Deaf People - Phyllis Frelich and Linda Bove - Deaf Actresses". 2011-04-17. Retrieved 2011-09-10.
  3. Schuchman, John S (1999). Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry. Illini Books. p. 138. ISBN 0-252-01526-6.
  4. Barbara Harrington and Linda Bove (1991). "Non-Traditional Casting Update: Interview with Linda Bove". TDR. 35 (2): 13–17. JSTOR 1146085.
  5. "Deaf West Theatre". Retrieved 2011-09-10.
  8. Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Deaf persons in the arts and sciences: A biographical dictionary. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

External links

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