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  • Franklin Burr Tillstrom was a puppeteer and the creator of Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Tillstrom was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Bert and Alice Burr Tillstrom. He attended Senn High School in Chicago and later the University of Chicago. While still a freshman, he was offered a job setting up a marionette theater with the WPA-Chicago Parks District Theatre and took it. He turned his attention to puppetry in the early 1930s and created Kukla in 1936. Kukla remained nameless until the Russian ballerina Tamara Toumanova referred to him as kukla, the Russian term for doll. Other famous puppets from the group included Ollie or Oliver J. Dragon, Beulah Witch, and Fletcher Rabbit. In 1939, he was invited to present his Kuklapolitan Players at the New York World's Fair. The following year, RCA sent him to Bermuda to perform on the first ship-to-shore broadcast. From 1947 through 1957, Tillstrom was involved with the Kukla, Fran and Ollie show which starred his puppets and Fran Allison. It is widely regarded as being the first children’s show to appeal to both children and adults, and counted Orson Welles, John Steinbeck, Tallulah Bankhead, Adlai Stevenson and James Thurber among its many adult fans. Early in 1958, he appeared with the puppets on Polly Bergen's short-lived NBC variety show, The Polly Bergen Show. Wikipedia

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