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Secrets of Sesame Street 
 
by Rita Templeton July 27, 2005

  • Mr. Hooper – played by Will Lee.  On the show, he was the owner of – you guessed it – Hooper’s Store.  His store was the neighborhood meeting place, where Bert could always count on a “Figgy Fizz” soda, Big Bird could always count on a birdseed milkshake, and the humans could count on a chocolate egg-cream.  A first name was never needed until an episode in which he earned his GED for night school attendance; it was in that episode that, while proudly displaying his GED certificate, he became Harold Hooper.      
  • Luis – played by Emilio Delgado.  Luis was the first addition to the original cast, and the first Hispanic member.  Together with Maria, he helped teach viewers about Hispanic culture and language.  He owns Sesame Street’s Fix-It Shop, specializing in toaster repair (Robert Redford and Robert DeNiro have both dropped off their broken toasters there over the years).  Before Sesame Street, Delgado starred in Hawaii Five-O.
  • Maria – played by Sonia Manzano.  Originally, Maria’s character was a teenager who worked at Sesame Street’s Lending Library.  Over time, she courted and married Luis, and they eventually added a new member to their on-screen family – a daughter, played by her real-life daughter Gabriela.  Contrary to popular belief, Luis and Maria are not married off-screen.  Manzano doesn’t only act for Sesame Street; she also writes for the show, and has earned seven Emmys for her writing.
  • David – played by Northern Calloway.  He was Sesame Street’s resident cool guy, a law student until Mr. Hooper’s death, at which time he took over Hooper’s Store.  Calloway attended New York’s High School of the Performing Arts, the same high school where Fame took place (Sonia Manzano was a fellow student).  He was a stage actor, performing both on and off Broadway until he died in 1989.
  • Linda – played by Linda Bove.  Linda, Sesame Street’s librarian, is deaf.  Hers is the longest-running role of any physically challenged person in a TV series.  Although she does speak at times, she most often communicates with the Muppets and other cast members through simple signs, teaching children the basics of American Sign Language.  She introduced Barkley, the big, shaggy orange dog, to the show.  Before Sesame Street, Linda had a role as one of the Fonz’s “chicks” on Happy Days.
  • Through the years, many other cast members have come onto the Street scene: Olivia, Buffy, Willy, Mr. Macintosh, Mr. Handford, Gina, Ruthie, Savion, Uncle Wally, Lillian, and Celina.  The cast still maintains its cultural and ethnic diversity. 

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