Variety Reviews "Junior Jamboree"

22 October, 1947

Curator's note: At the time "Junior Jamboree" made its WBKB debut on October 13th, 1947, most television sets in Chicago, on account of their high cost, were located in taverns. WBKB's sparse programming consisted largely of sporting events, presumably targeting the tavern crowd. There was some concern whether the Windy City's 5 p.m. drinking crowd would stick around for a broadcast featuring puppets. RCA, the show's sponsor, wanted to move the crowds out of the saloon and into the showrooms.
The "sports, hobbies, celebrities" and film shorts were soon done away with. The show was really about "Kukla Fran and Ollie"---which early on became the broadcas't title.

Junior Jamboree
With Burr Tillstrom, Fran Allison
Producer: Beulah Zachary
Director: Lewis Gomowitz
60 Mins.; Mon. thru Fri., 5 p.m.
RCA-Victor Distributing Corp.
WBKB, Chicago
(J. Walter Thompson)

"Junior Jamboree", touted as the first 60-minute tele series on a five-day sked, is cued to kids in the 6-16 bracket. RCA-Victor dealers are urging youngsters to visit nabe stores and see the show, idea being that small fry may wheedle mom and pop into buying a receiver. All of which is smart promotion, even though some double-crossing parents may buy another brand.

Kukla, a puppet voiced by Burr Tillstrom, emcees J.J., performing on a stage that simulates screen in RCA receiver. Continuity includes film shorts, animated cartoons, demonstration of juve hobbies, and interviews by Fran Allison. Mail pull has kids telling why they want a dog, with barker awarded weekly for best letter. Miss Allison also appears with lost dog for possible recognition by kid viewer.

Dialog, ad-libbed from an outline, ran smoothly. Miss Allison, known to radio fans as Aunt Fanny of the "Breakfast Club", is a veteran at off-the-cuff-repartee, while Tillstrom has been puppet chattering for more than a decade.

Show, which preemed Oct. 14, seems tailor-made for a juve audience, especially with format calling for grid stars and other kid heroes in interview spot. Sponsor might well consider use of dog trademark (His Master's Voice) somewhere in this stanza.

Return to the Burr Tillstrom index page

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