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Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Posted on

Kukla, Fran, and Ollie

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Kids and Family

We gave it an A

Burr Tillstrom’s two little hand puppets — smart, squeaky-voiced Kukla and temperamental Oliver J. Dragon, along with charming human Allison — were the stars of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, a kids’ show that began on TV in 1948 and ran, off and on, until 1972. The trio, plus assorted puppet pals, did simple, ordinary things; they talked, sang, and put on Columbus Day pageants. Watching this five-cassette collection, you’ll be struck by Tillstrom’s unique combination of gentleness and wit, as well as his instinctive subversion: Kukla and Ollie were constantly talking to the camera people and ad-libbing (Ollie to Fran: ”Ooh, you got a pantsuit on!”). If you need a contemporary comparison, Kukla, Fran and Ollie was a low-tech, anti-camp precursor to Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and the innocence of Tillstrom’s humor makes these shows all the more endearing now. A