Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In Memoriam: Burr Tillstrom

Burr Tillstrom was present at the dawn of television, as the creator and creative force behind Kukla, Fran & Ollie; originally a show for the kiddies, it was soon being watched by more and more adults (among them the boldface names Orson Welles, John Steinbeck, Tallulah Bankhead, Ben Grauer, Milton Caniff, and Adlai Stevenson). For a solid decade the show was a genuine media phenomenon - it was, for instance, the first network television show to be broadcast in colour - and proved that with a quick wit, a pretty lady, and a couple of puppets, it's possible to conquer the world.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhich means all I need to do is develop a quick wit and find a pretty girl...

[Cue maniacal laughter.]

Wait a minute, what was I talking about? Oh yeah...

Originally appearing as Junior Jamboree on this day in 1947 (Tillstrom's 30th birthday) on WBKB in Chicago, the show was renamed Kukla, Fran & Ollie when it was transferred to WNBQ in November 1948. In January 1949 the show went national over NBC airwaves, and aside from a brief period in 1951 when it was reduced by half, the show ran 30 minutes a day, five days a week, until 1957.
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