Burr Tillstrom's hands may seem perfectly ordinary, but more than
three million devotees of Kukla, Fran and Ollie know their remarkable talent.

EVEN if you've never sat entranced before a television set, looking into the delightful world of the Kuklapolitan Players, you know all about Kukla, Fran and Ollie (NBC-TV, Monday through Friday, 7 p.m., EST). That is, you know all there is to know: that the bulb-nosed clown Kukla and the prankish dragon Ollie head a cast of 10 individualistic hand puppets, that their human friend Fran Allison talks and sings to them with complete naturalness, that they and their unrehearsed adventures are the creation of 33-year-old Burr Tillstrom, that this show, one of the oldest on commercial network TV, is as popular with adults as it is with children.
       And, knowing these facts which can be put on paper, you know nothing. For the thing about Kukla, Fran and Ollie is not a fact but a feeling. It's something that no one has yet been able to define, even with the help of words like "charming," "heart-warming," "gentle," "subtle," "spontaneous," "creative." Not even the look in a little girl's eyes (below) nor critics' assurances that the program is the richest thing on television can quite convey the spell that Kukla, Fran and Ollie casts. We can only conclude that it's magic - a pure and precious kind of magic.

Photos by Douglas Jones