Here are some important dates in the history of the Kuklapolitans.
I'd like to add to the list, so if you have any more info, please email me.

(And many thanks to Jim Engel for the above illustration!)


1907 Nov. 20 Frances Allison is born in LaPorte City, Iowa.
1917 Oct. 13 Franklin Burr Tillstrom is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Burr meets Rufus Rose (later to perform Howdy Doody) and Bil Baird, at the Chicago World's Fair.
Burr joins the Dramatics Society at Senn High School.
Kukla is named by the ballerina Toumanova and becomes the first Kuklapolitan Player. 

Kukla and Burr attend the first American Puppet Festival, in Detroit.  This begins a lifelong association with the festivals and the Puppeteers of America.
Madame Ophelia Ooglepuss becomes the second Kuklapolitan.
Oliver J. Dragon (Ollie), joins the troupe as they perform at Marshall Field's department store in Chicago.
The troupe appears on television and tours with the RCA Victor television demonstration show.  They also perform at the New York World's Fair in '39 and '40 as an entr'acte for the RCA Victor Puppet Opera, bantering with the audience and pioneering the use of a live actor out front.
The Kuklapolitans take part in the first ship-to-shore telecast, in Bermuda.  Fran (not yet a member of the troupe), marries music publisher Archie Levington.
Nancy Reynolds meets the troupe at Marshall Field's and tours with them, selling war-bonds.

Fran Allison performs with the Kuklapolitans for the first time, also at a war-bond rally.
The Kuklapolitans perform on the premiere telecast of WBKB in Chicago.  Cecil Bill and Mercedes join the troupe. 
Buelah Witch and Fletcher Rabbit join the Kuklapolitans in a production of Hansel and Gretel, for the Junior League.
1947 Oct. 13 Junior Jamboree premieres on WBKB in Chicago, starring the Kuklapolitans with Fran Allison.  It airs Monday thru Friday, from 6 to 7 pm Central Time.
1948 May Arthur L. "Jack" Fascinato joins the show as pianist and musical director, after James Petrillo (head of the Musician's Union) lifts the ban on musicians in television.

Nov. 29 The show moves to WNBQ and is renamed Kukla, Fran and Ollie.  It is carried on the Midwest coaxial cable, reaching Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Toledo.

KFO wins the first of four "Best Show" awards from the Chicago Federated Advertising Club.
1949 Jan. 12 Kukla, Fran and Ollie is one of the first television shows broadcast over the NBC network, via the coaxial cable linking the East Coast and Midwest.  It airs Monday thru Friday, from 6 to 6:30 pm Central Time.

Feb. 21 The earliest surviving KFO kinescope (filmed broadcast) is made.

Aug. 21 KFO begins regular production of kinescopes for distribution to television stations thoughout the country.

Oct. 10 KFO  presents a test broadcast on the NBC network from the Washington D.C. studio using the RCA Dot-Sequential Color System cameras, a type of color television that is later abandoned.
Kukla, Fran and Ollie wins a George Foster Peabody Award.

Oct. 28
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Paul Gallico's short story "The Man Who Hated People," based on KFO.  It is later filmed as an MGM musical, Lili.  Burr turns down Paul's offer to appear in the film.

June 19 Ollie's cousin, Doloras, is left with the troupe by her parents.
1951 Nov. 26 KFO is cut back to 15 minutes.  The Bob and Ray Show rounds out the half-hour. Howls of protest are reported in Time Magazine and the New York Times.
1952 Mar. 24
1,000th show

Apr. 26 The Kuklapolitans host Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows (they return on March 21, 1953).

Aug. 24 KFO appears once weekly, on Sundays from 3 to 3:30 pm.

Oct. 13
KFO starts a daily 15-minute radio show.

Ollie's mother, Olivia, makes her first appearonce on the show.

Then-unknown composer Stephen Sondheim submits a song to KFO, "The Two of You."  It is returned unplayed, without Burr's knowledge (see 1978).
1953 Feb. KFO broadcasts a month of shows from California.

May 20 "Fran Allison, This Is Your Life !"

June 7 The Kuklapolitans perform St. George and the Dragon with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall in Boston.

June 15 Kukla and Ollie are two of the hosts of The Ford 50th Anniversary Show.

Aug. 30 The first publicly announced experimental TV broadcast of a network program in compatible color (the system that finally receives FCC approval), is presented by NBC: St. George and the Dragon, starring Burr Tillstrom's Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

Oct. 15
Another color KFO broadcast airs.

Nov. 26 Ollie and the Kuklapolitans appear in concert at Town Hall in New York City.
1954 June 13 The last episode of Kukla, Fran and Ollie on NBC is broadcast. 

Kukla, Fran and Ollie receives an Emmy for "Best Children's Program."

 Sept. 6 KFO moves back to WBKB as a daily 15-minute show on the ABC network.

Dec. 24 Burr's adaptation of James Thurber's Many Moons is broadcast.
1955 Oct. 7
The Kuklapolitans guest on The Steve Allen Show.

Oct. 12 The Kuklapolitans guest on I've Got A Secret.
1956 Dec. 23
Burr is interviewed on Edward R. Murrow's Person To Person.
1957 Feb. 16
Kukla and Ollie appear on the Emmy nominations broadcast.

Aug. 7
Kukla and Ollie guest on Zoo Parade.

Aug. 30 The Kuklapolitans go off the air for the first time since 1947.
1959 Feb. 3 Producer Beulah Zachary is killed in a plane accident.
1960 Summer The Kuklapolitans cover the Democratic and Republican conventions for "Today."

Oct. 31 Kukla, Burr and Ollie on Broadway opens at the Astor Hotel in New York City to rave reviews.
1961 Jan. 2 The Kuklapolitans co-host the Tournament of Roses parade.

Sep. 25 Burr Tillstrom's Kukla and Ollie, a daily 5-minute show, premieres on NBC and runs for two seasons.  Produced by Burr's new company, "Kuklapolitan Productions," it is taped, not live.   Fran makes occasional appearances.
1962 Apr. 18 The Kuklapolitans appear on The Perry Como Show.
1964 Jan. 10  Burr performs his Peabody and Emmy-award winning "Berlin Wall" hand ballet on That Was The Week That Was, the first of a number of appearances on this program of topical satire. 
1965 Dec. 12
The Kuklapolitans host Gian Carlo Menotti's Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors.
1966 Mar. 28 The Kuklapolitans make an Emmy-nominated appearance on Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall.
1967 Feb. 5 Kukla, Fran and Ollie begin hosting The CBS Children's Film Festival, Saturdays at noon, continuing until April 6, 1969.  Occasional shows are broadcast in 1970 and '71.
1968 Mar. 21 The Kuklapolitans star in The Reluctant Dragon on NBC.

Nov. 28 Kukla, Fran and Ollie host the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS.
1969 Dec. 20
Kukla and Ollie guest star on Christmas at the Hollywood Palace.
1970 Feb. 4 Kukla, Fran and Ollie returns on NET (the forerunner of PBS), taped at WTTW in Chicago, for two seasons.
1971 Sept. 11 The second run of The CBS Children's Film Festival  begins, airing almost continuously until August 25, 1979.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie receives a second Emmy, for "Outstanding Children's Programming".
1975 Sept. 7 Martin Tahse produces 13 new episodes in Los Angeles and syndicates them with the 26 shows produced earlier by PBS.  Five are later released on VHS and DVD.
Kukla is selected to represent the United States at the Congress of l'Union Internationale de la Marionette, in Moscow.

The Kuklapolitans perform at the dedicaton of the Rufus and Margo Rose theatre, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut.
The Kukla and Ollie Retrospective Stage Show tours, a creation of the Artist-in-Residence program at Hope College, Michigan, where Burr is awarded a Doctorate of Letters.

Dec. 9 The Kuklapolitans appear on The Carpenters at Christmas, a TV special with Richard and Karen Carpenter.
Kukla, Burr and Ollie star in Side by Side by Sondheim on Broadway.  Burr finally sings the song written by Sondheim for KFO 25 years earlier.
1979 April 10-13
Kukla and Ollie appear as panelists on Match Game '79 during its last month on the air.

Dec. 6 Kukla and Ollie Live! The Theatre of Burr Tillstrom opens at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and plays each December for four seasons.
1980 June 8 The Kuklapolitans perform at the Kennedy Center opening of the World Puppetry Festival, presented by Puppeteers of America and UNIMA-USA.  Jim Henson, Bil Baird and Shari Lewis join Burr at this  gala.
1985 Oct. 23 Burr gives his last public performance at the first annual "Ollie Awards" ceremony, honoring the best in children's television and sponsored by the American Center for Children and Media.

Dec. 6 Burr dies in Palm Springs, California, preventing a planned run of Kukla and Ollie Live! at Lincoln Center in New York City.
1986 Mar. 23 Burr is inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.  Fran accepts the award on his behalf, in a ceremony broadcast on April 21.
1988 Aug. 7 A tribute to Burr is dedicated in Burr's summer home, Saugatuck, Michigan.
1989 June 13 Fran dies in California.
KFO ends it final run on television, after a three-year showing of the 39-episode package produced by Martin Tahse, on the STARZ network.
1997 Oct. 22 The UCLA Film and Television Archive holds a screening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Kukla, Fran and Ollie.  The Chicago Historical Society hosts a year-long exhibit in honor of the anniversary.
2009 Aug. 11
KFO is honored with a USPS stamp as part of the "Early Television Memories" collection.  The five color episodes released earlier are released on DVD.
2010 Nov. 20 Kukla, Fran and Ollie: The First Episodes - 1949-54 marks the first release of the early kinescopes on DVD.

The Story of the Kuklapolitans