Kukla Fran and Ollie fans loved to write - one week, the show received 10,000 letters! Here's a few from some people you may recognize. . .
Dear Kukla, Fran and Ollie,
If it weren’t for you we don’t know what we would think about television, but because of you we think televison is here to stay and we are glad of it. We think your show is completely wonderful and we try never to miss it.
Parla and Orson Welles
I don’t know who told you but I do like Kukla, Fran and Ollie very much. The invention and versatility of the writing are wonderful and the ease and naturalness delight me.
Knowing how busy you all are I was doubly charmed by your having taken time out to visit me. How well I remember my visit to Kuklapolitana, and I hope to pay you another visit in the future.
John Huston, Hedda Hopper and Celeste Holm
Dear Mr. Tillstrom,
So you are that very young man I talked to in the Identity days! I can say I know the creator of Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
Sir, over and over again I’ve been enchanted with your shows. If I’d known that I knew you I’d have long ago written to tell you so. I was woe-begone when it disappeared from our area and would have written the wretched authorities. I heard that they received tons of letters of protest.
You are accustomed to hear your characters and presentations called “winning” and “endearing” - and they certainly are; but those adjectives give no idea of that other element, the admixture of a real “criticism of life,” an invigorating tartness....and, sir, what ever fresh invention, what untiring resourcefulness.
I’m very proud to have received a letter of commendation from you. Please accept one from me. When I do finally come to Chicago (to which I remain attached for eternity), I wish the right to sit “behind” at a showing. There is no danger that seeing it “work” will rob those participants of the charm they wear in my mind.
Everybody is just a little shyly and very respectfully in love with Miss Fran. Will you tell her that I extend to her a large perfect deep red rose?
Where in the world is there such charm and fun in a medium? Burr is a genius and Fran should be the model for all in television. I am glad that we have our own “Alice in Wonderland” five times a week on RCA at 7 New York time. I am mad about them. What more can I say or do?
Dear Burr Tillstrom,
I have a television set, but nobody can work it except my daughter, and she has been away at school for three years. My wife can’t even get snow, and I can’t even see that. All my friends whose critical judgement I respect are intensely devoted fans of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, and I knew about the fame of your show almost as soon as the formal critics, and I followed the story of its battle for space and all the other grim problems that went along with that.
You are one of the few people helping to save the sanity of the nation and to improve, if not even to invent, the quality of television. Thanks for that, and for your kindness.
Walt Disney, Yul Brynner and Jerry Lewis
Ours was a happily haphazard household until Kukla and company came dancing into our hearts along the lonely reaches of the coaxial cable.
The happiness is now intensified, but clock-watching has set in. At 7 p.m. all work stops, nappers are awakened, nippers are silenced, while we each rush for advantageous places in the Kuklapolitan theatre.
( Creator of "Terry and the Pirates" and "Steve Canyon")
My husband and I can only say that Kukla, Fran and Ollie is our favorite of all television or radio programs. We have not only changed our dinner hour, but the room in which we eat, in order not to miss it. All the Kuklapolitans, including Fran Allison, Burr Tillstrom, and even Jack Fascinato, have become intimate members of our household.
Mrs. Maxwell Anderson (Gertrude)
(Playwright Maxwell Anderson wrote "Key Largo," "The Bad Seed" and "Anne of a Thousand Days.")
Yesterday I ran into Mrs. Boris Karloff, who lives in this apartment house. She reminded me that I had left a cocktail party she and Boris were giving last December, because I wanted to watch Kukla, Fran and Ollie in peace. She said they had assumed previously that this was children’s entertainment. But Boris has since become a wildly devoted fan. Said she had never known him to eat anything but whole wheat bread, but she is now under orders to get Silvercup. Her only suggestion is (and I concur), they be urged to put out more flavors (not just whole wheat, I gather, but licorice and maybe wild gooseberry) and also slice some loaves thinner.
All my best,
At first Kukla and Ollie don’t seem like people, but after a while, people begin to seem like Kukla and Ollie to you - and then you’re a “believer,” too.
(TV newsman, original host of "Today")
Dear Fran and Dear Burr,
I want to take this opportunity and finally get around to doing something for which I have felt an ever growing urge since a very long time. And that is: to thank you from the bottom of my heart for untold moments of sheer delight and purest enchantment . Being a strictly “long hair” man since my earliest childhood, I have precious little use for television, or at least for the average programs, as you can imagine. It is no exaggeration when I say that almost all of them are definitely repulsive to my ways of thinking, and that our set, therefore, is hardly ever turned on. With one great exception, as you know....
This precious, short time from 7 to 7:15 became a pillar around which the life of our whole family is being arranged. From day to day we are violently looking forward to these few minutes; dinner is being served so as not to interfere; and all operas fall easily into two categories only: the good ones, for which I don’t have to leave the house before 7:15, and the horrible ones, which prevent me from seeing Kukla, Fran and Ollie. We were inconsolable when the presidential campaign deprived us of some of the programs. And we always have lively discussions about all the characters and their various experiences.
With good reason, too. The whole range of human emotions is traversed within a few sentences and a mood is set with such delicate mastery that we - more often than not - are left speechless and deeply touched. And when our passionately beloved Ollie sang, we all had tears in our eyes, and were not ashamed of them, either...
For me, this is highest art; and anyone who can breathe life into matter with such human wisdom and feeling, anyone who can speak to our hearts so directly and tenderly, is not only a genius, but belongs among the chosen few, the truly great.
More power to you, my dear friends Fran and Burr. And a million thanks and wishes, from
Walter Taussig & his family
(Conductor, Metropolitan Opera)
I wouldn’t have believed it possible that a group of puppets could inspire such genuine affection as do Kukla, Fran and Ollie, and all the rest of the Kuklapolitan players. We both feel closer to this endearing crew than to most of the humans we know.Sincerely yours,
(Composer, critic, narrator of Walt Disney's "Fantasia")
Please thank Kukla and Ollie for the lovely gift. Give Beulah witch my love. Your show was certainly the highlight of the tour. Many thanks and best to everyone.
When the coaxial cable was hooked in, and Kukla, Fran and Ollie arrived on the Atlantic coast, I happened to hit channel 4 in passing and paused there. I called out to my wife who was in the kitchen: “Mama! Come in here! The snakes have finally taken over TV!” That was honestly my first reaction to dear old Ollie.
We watched it through that evening and for some reason switched it on the next day and then we were trapped. Now it happens that I am sensitive about my ignorance, as revealed in my low tastes. So I became a secret fan of the show. I assumed that it was strictly a program for the kiddies and I didn’t want any of my friends to know I was watching it regularly. If I heard a car come up the hill, I’d quickly switch over to some other program. And in the long discussions of televison among my friends and neighbors, I never mentioned Kukla, Fran and Ollie. I felt that if I did reveal my secret, they’d be saying: “Well. This is the end. He’s a settin’ there on that hill a-lappin' up children’s programs.”
The time came, of course, when hardy intellectuals such as John Crosby and the Readers’s Digest crowd began publicly whooping for Kook & company, and then I was able to bare my passion in public. At a little party given for the Kuklapolitan gang in New York, I overheard Robert Sherwood say: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened in entertainment.” Strong language from a great man, but adequate. I think Burr Tillstrom is a genius. I think Fran is the most wonderful of all living women.
H. Allen Smith
(Humorist, author of "Low Man On A Totem Pole")
I am one of the most rabid fans of KFO and am at present suffering from a case of badly split affections. I cannot make up my mind whether it is Fran or Ollie with whom I am imperishably in love. It is probably both, but I don’t want to be a pig about this.
This is penned in temporary exile, in Paris where my wife and I are engaged in writing a moving picture. Paris in spring is wonderful. It needs only one thing to make it one of the great human experiences, and that is “KFO.”
Greetings to the Kuklapolitan players from their friend,
(Author of "The Poseidon Adventure" and the MGM musical "Lili," which was based on KFO.)
To say I’m a fan of Kukla, Fran and Ollie is putting it mildly. Am positively a real live believer of the entire Kuklapolitan family and more so since working so close by them here in Chicago.
What a trio - they transverse the entire theatrical medium in a small half hour and entertain young and old. They’re positively brilliant. Fran is a charmer - would love to see more of Burr Tillstrom - maybe Kukla and Ollie could work him some nite.
My best to all,
I like Kukla, Fran and Ollie so much that I would love to use them in a Theatre Guild play.
I think Kukla would make a wonderful “Hamlet”, Fran could play the queen, while Ollie would make a very good king. So, whenever they get ready, the Theatre Guild will present them in Hamlet.
(Director, founder of the Theatre Guild)
It’s come to this: I judge people by whether or not they like Kukla, Fran and Ollie - if they don’t - there’s something wrong, and it’s not with me! Indeed I’d disown any of my sons if they called it a puppet show, and looked down their noses - Fatuously, Signature illegible (perhaps Faith Hubley?)
Telegrams to Burr on his Broadway opening:
DEAR OLIVER AS YOUR BIGGEST FAN I HOPE YOU AND KUK HAVE A SMASH TONIGHT WILL BE IN TO SEE YOU SOON
I ONLY WISH I COULD BE IN NEW YORK ON MONDAY BUT MY THOUGHTS WILL BE VERY MUCH WITH YOU AND IF YOU ARE HALF AS GOOD AS YOU WERE AT MY BIRTHDAY PARTY YOU WILL BE THE SENSATION OF THE YEAR WARMEST REGARDS AND BEST OF LUCK
ALL GOOD THINGS LUCK AND LOVE
DEAR BURR WISH I COULD BE THERE TONIGHT TO HUG ALL THOSE BELOVED KUKLAPOLITANS WHO I HOPE WILL NEVER LEAVE NEW YORK
ALL MY LOVE DARLING TO YOU AND THE CHILDREN BLESS YOU
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