A Kuklapolitan Television Chronology

The first Ten Years: 1947-1957

Curator's note: This document appears to have been prepared by Burr Tillstrom around the time the Kukla, Fran and Ollie series was cancelled by WBKB in the fall of 1957. Thanks to Dick Carter, director emeritus at WTTW, for providing it to me.

FIRST YEAR - 1947-1948

October 13, 1947: First show for KUKLA, FRAN & Ollie at WBKB in Chicago, five days a week, one hour a day for RCA Victor. Show first known as "Junior Jamboree". October 13th is also Burr's birthday.

SECOND YEAR -1948-1949

November 25, 1948 (Thanksgiving Day): KFO goes on Midwest Network. Cities in the network at thay time were Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit & Toledo.

January 12, 1949: KFO started on Eastern Network as well as continuing on the Midwest Network.

February, 1949: Started kinescope recording.

THIRD YEAR - 1949-1950

August 8, 1949: Moved to NBC in Chicago where the RCA Victor sponsorship continued and Sealtest (National Dairy) was added to the list, sharing the sponsorship.

October, 1949: KFO to Washington in participation with the FCC color tests. First kinescope was made [of] a color show during the first public demonstration of the compatible system.

FOURTH YEAR - 1950-1951

August, 1950: Start of our fourth season. Sponsored by RCA Victor, Sealtest and Ford.

FIFTH YEAR - 1951-1952

August, 1951: Start of our fifth season, sponsored by RCA Victor, Proctor and Gamble, Life and National Biscuit.

November, 1951: KFO cut to 15 minutes a day.

Thanksgiving Day: Parade in Detroit for Hudson's.

March 24th, 1952: 1,000th show.

April 19th, 1952: Ollie addresses Institute for Education by Radio and TV at Ohio State University on "The Cultural and Educational Possibilities of TV".

SIXTH YEAR - 1952-1953

September, 1952: Show is sponsored by RCA Victor for half hour once w week.

October 13, 1952: KFO celebrated their Fifth Anniversary by starting a daily fifteen minute radio show.

Thanksgiving Day: Parade in Detroit for Hudson's.

February, 1953: First trip to West Coast. The show was done from Los Angeles with personal appearances and extra shows in San Francisco and Seattle. During this year we travelled more than 18,000 miles. In the five years of the show we have also visited: Atlanta, Minneapolis, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Detroit (3 times), Boston, Washington (3 times), New York (10 times), Philadelphia, Camden, NJ, South Bemd, Milwaukee (3 times), Benton Harbor, MI.

June 7, 1953: First performance of original opera, "St. George and the Dragon" with the Boston Pops, Arthur Fiedler conducting. It was performed on the air during our regular Sunday show for RCA Victor, and then repeated in the evening in concert with the orchestra.

June 15, 1953: KFO appeared on the Ford Anniversary Show, the first of the "Spectaculars".

August 30, 1953: "St. George and the Dragon" was performed for NBC in New York in color with Arthur Fiedler conducting the NBC orchestra.

SEVENTH YEAR - 1953-1954

September, 1953: Start of KFO's seventh season. Sponsored by Swift & Co. and Pard.

October 15, 1953: Color show for RCA. FCC finally O.K.'s the RCA compatible system.

Thanksgiving Day: Gimbel's Parade, Philadelphia.

Thanksgiving Night: The Oliver J. Dragon Concert in Town Hall, New York City. A prominent "first" which received great critical acclaim.

February 28-29, 1954: Two performances with the Boston Pops Orchestra of "St. George and the Dragon". First performance was for the benefit of the Chicago Concil of Foreign Relations. Civic Opera House, Chicago.

May 8, 1954: Oliver J. Dragon was Grand Marshal for the American Automobile Association Safety Patrol Parade in Washington.

EIGHTH YEAR - 1954-1955

September 6, 1954: Back on WBKB, now American Broadcasting Co, on Monday through Friday, fifteen-minute strip for Silvercup.

October 4, 1954: Co-op network.

December 25, 1954: James Thurber's "Many Moons" one hour puppet "Spectacular". All parts protrayed by Burr Tillstrom.

April 10, 1955: Fletcher Rabbit conducts a tour of the Egg Plant or "Bunny to Bunny".

July 1, 1955: Off for eight weeks of vacation.

July 2, 1955: KUKLA, FRAN & OLLIE gave concert at Bowling Greem Ohio for the Puppeteers of America. Burr Tillstrom is a charter member and it was at the first meeting of the organization that he got the idea of Kukla.

NINTH YEAR - 1955-1956

August 29, 1955: KFO started 9th year on the air, WBKB, Chicago, Illinois.

September 27, 1955: Whirlpool comercial on Milton Berle Show, originating in Hollywood.

October 12, 1955: 8th birthday. Appearance on "I've Got a Secret".

October 23, 1955: Burr Tillstrom played the part od the Mock Turtle in the Hallmark color "Spectacular" "ALICE IN WONDERLAND".

December 19, 1955: Appearance on Steve Allen's TONIGHT show, originating in Chicago.

December 23, 1956: Edward R. Murrow interviews Burr Tillstrom on PERSON TO PERSON.

February 2, 1956 to June 28, 1956: Weekly half hour color show for RCA Whirlpool on NBC, Chicago.

April 1, 1956: Appearance on ZOO PARADE.

May 9, 1956: Appearance on THIS IS YOUR LIFE memorial show for Richard J. Finnegan, originating in Chicago.

Summer hiatus, 1956: Burr Tillstrom and Beulah Zachary visited England for the purpose of investigating British television.

TENTH YEAR - 1956-1957

September 3, 1956: Started 10th year on television, WBKB, for Silvercup Bread on co-op network.

October 7, 1956: Appearance on STEVE ALLEN Sunday evening show, originating in New York.

February 16, 1957: Kukla and Ollie satirize the television rating system on the EMMY NOMINATIONS SHOW, New York City.

April 7, 1957: Kukla and Ollie conduct Answer Shop on ZOO PARADE.

April 23, 1957: Appearance for League of Women Voters, Hotel Sherman, Chicago.

July 16-21, 1957: Summer Theater debut at Canal Fulton Summer Theatre Canal Fulton, Ohio (near Cleveland, Akron, Canton).

August 30, 1957. Close of ten years of television for KUKLA, FRAN AND OLLIE (after five week extension), at least for time being.


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