#18 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.
Trolling for this picture I realize that Amy Irving could rate her own essay.
A couple of things you could count on if you were a fictional character in the 70s: you would eventually befriend a runaway/prostitute, you would narrowly miss a drunk driving incident, and you would fall in love with a deaf person.
Deaf people were apparently everywhere in the 70s. Someone got the ferry running from Martha's Vineyard. And they were very good-looking, in the way we were good-looking in the 70s. Skinny, hairy, gabardined good-looking, without belts or pantylines.
Blindness was so 60s, so... Audrey Hepburn. Deaf characters lived these amazing independent good-looking lives where our character could worship them from afar "and never even realize..." Then you could learn their magical cool language (overnight with the help of a book), and they could solve your problems through their personal courage.
It made for a nice partnership.
You could count on the musical ASL number in these films -- Michael Ontkean's in Voices is a real tear-jerker. Who didn't run out for Joy of Signing after that? Boys thought it was a new way to meet chicks, and girls thought it was just another branch of social work we could break into.
If Diane Keaton had stayed in class with her deaf students instead of looking for Mr Goodbar, that movie would have had a very different ending.
One sign you have arrived as a cultural phenomenon is that you are parodied on SNL.
Iconic ASL moments from the 70s
Louise Fletcher's Oscar speech
Patty Duke gets self-referential in the Miracle Worker remake
Everybody Can performance of "You Light up my Life"
A deaf-dumb-'n'-blind kid sure plays mean pinball
Voices: "your coffee... is delicious..."
Learning the disability hierarchy from And Your Name is Jonah
Another Airport movie?! How can we dress that up? Ooo, add a deaf girl! (see also Towering Inferno)
Nashville - 2 is better than one!
Kitty O'Neill: Stockard + Stock Car + Stock character
late to the party
Children of a Lesser God - but good for Marlee. Got her Oscar. You ain't got one.
Notice that after all that exposure,we hadn't let learned how to applaud for deaf people, but we certainly knew they need a wide-shot.