The Kuklapolitans' television career began with the premiere of Junior Jamboree (soon renamed Kukla, Fran and Ollie), on October 13, 1947.  But the story of the Kuklapolitans begins over ten years earlier, when Burr created Kukla for a friend and couldn't part with him.  In the articles on this page, and in the book excerpt below, you'll find many more details, including the oft-told story of Kukla's naming, his success with Ollie at the New York World's Fair, and the behind-the-scenes scoop on how an ad-libbed show was created each day.
After a ten-year run in the 50s, the Kuklapolitans left the air, a victim of the questionable ratings services of the time.  But they were rarely out of the public eye, appearing in a short daily show on NBC, starring on Broadway, hosting The CBS Children's Film Festival, creating a series for PBS, performing in Side by Side by Sondheim, and presenting annual live performances at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

The Kuklapolitans can also claim some important television firsts, including the first ship-to-shore telecast and the first color telecast of a network program.  Burr was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1986 for his many contributions to the medium.


 A complete chronology
of the troupe

A list of over
700 shows

that exist on film

Click on a magazine cover to read the article.


The official version, from the 1951 Yearbook

Kukla, Fran and Ollie (February 1950)

from left to right - they're wistful, winsome and wonderful -
all in all the happiest show on earth


Mr. Oliver J. Dragon . . . and Friends (October 1950)

(Great "behind-the-scenes" info)


Kukla, Fran and Ollie  (May 1949)

TV's best puppet show has a bald boy, a blonde, a one-toothed dragon
(Great backstage shots!)



Kukla and Ollie's Real-Life Heroine  (October 1951)

Fran Allison's road to success and happiness has been a strange one



Tillstrom and the Kuklapolitans (August 1951)

Two Teddy Bears Sparked Genius of Ace Puppeteer 
and Started Him on Road to $10,000 a Week TV Career


The Amazing Burr Tillstrom (December 1950)

Burr goes on record regarding his intended audience.

Allison in Wonderland (March 1950)

 Kukla's Daddy (November 1949)

Kukla was invented to express a shy young man's undying devotion to his love. 
But today it's Kukla who's receiving the undying devotion - and he's not at all shy about it!


Our Kuklapolitan Christmas - by Kukla (December 1951)

Despite the weatherman's predictions, your little friend Kukla 
finds Christmas to be the warmest season of the year. 


Burr's My Neighbor!  (April 1951)

by Fran Allison


A Kukla, Fran and Ollie Vacation Letter 
(August 195

The Case of the Magic Hands (January 1951)

Burr Tillstrom's hands may seem perfectly ordinary, but more than
three million devotees of Kukla, Fran and Ollie know their remarkable talent.

Allison in Wonderland (November 1953

Fran forgets that Kukla and Ollie aren't real.


Will Romance Bloom Again?  (January 1954)

(The scoop on the Mme. O/Col. Crackie wedding)


Why KFO Went ABC (September 1954)

Burr sets the record straight about why the Kuklapolitans left NBC.


The Real World of Kukla, Fran and Ollie   (November 1955)


TV's Kuklapolitan's invade the kitchen (September 1954)

Burr shares cooking secrets


Magic Gift of Life  (March 1955)

Burr Tillstrom gave Kukla and Ollie humor and tenderness,
and they have repaid him with eternal youth

Long-lived never-never land (October 1955)
  After eight years, Kuklapolitans still aren't sure what's real and what's not
Puppeteer in the kitchen
  Burr Tillstrom plays chef role for off-screen relaxation

Where Dragons Come From  (October 1956)

Oliver J. (Model 1956) Makes His Appearance With Aid Of A Sewing Machine


The Return of Oliver J. Dragon III (February 1970)

...along with some observations on the state of television from his friend Burr Tillstrom.

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