With thanks to Nell Minow for the heads-up, today is the 73rd anniversary of when the wonderful Kukla, Fran & Ollie went on the air. November 28, 1948.
The show, created by Burr Tillstrom, actually has three “first” dates.
It began on October 13, 1947, as an hour-long show in Chicago called Junior Jamboree, and ran on WBKB, which was with ABC. Then, the show changed its name officially to Kukla, Fran & Ollie and – 73 years ago today – moved to what would be its long-time home, WNBQ (later re-named WMAQ), which was an NBC owned-and-operated station. It still was just a local show in Chicago. But only a couple of months later, on January 12, 1949, Kukla, Fran & Ollie went national and aired at 6 PM Central time for a half-hour.
Nell comes by her love of the show almost by hereditary. Her father Newton Minow (later the FCC Commissioner for President Kennedy) was Burr Tillstrom’s lawyer. I’ll have more about this and the show on Saturday. That’s when it’s another anniversary of a very funny and odd episode of the show later that year (December 5, 1949) that salutes television and the stations joining the network and is a great historical document about the early days of TV. I have the video of the full show – again, thanks to Nell – and will post it then.
For now, though, we’ll celebrate the anniversary of the first official Kukla, Fran & Ollie show with this short clip of Kukla, Ollie and Fran Allison singing the show’s memorable theme song – followed by them singing the other offbeat Kukla, Fran and Ollie rhumba.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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