Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Kukla, Fran and Ollie
Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Kukla, Fran and Ollie

On October 13, 1947, puppeteer Burr Tillstrom brought an extraordinary troupe of performers already familiar to many Chicagoans to local television station WBKB. Joined by their front-of-stage friend Fran Allison, the Kuklapolitans—Oliver J. Dragon, Buelah Witch, Cecil Bill, Madame Ooglepuss, Fletcher Rabbit, Colonel Crackie, and Kukla himself—were welcomed into hundreds of thousands of American homes on network television shows of a variety of lengths and formats in the 1950s. Working without a script, the cast of Kukla, Fran and Ollie improvised conversations about everyday life laced with humor, astute commentary on current events, original music, and perennial features. Their nationwide following included children and adults; at the height of their popularity, the Kuklapolitans received 15,000 letters daily. The group continued to give occasional performances into the 1980s.

Adams, Rosemary K. “Here We Are Again: Kukla, Fran and Ollie.” Chicago History 26 (Fall 1997): 32–51.