"KUKLAPOLITAN DIARY" OF A FAN OF THE EARLY TELEVISION PROGRAM
by [Television - Kukla, Fran and Ollie] Washburn, Patricia
Chicago. Spiral bound. A holographic diary kept by Patricia Washburn of Chicago, Illinois recording her seemingly fanatical affection for the early American puppet television program "Kukla, Fran and Ollie." Broadcast from 1947-57, the program was unscripted and appeared on local Chicago television until it was picked up and broadcast by NBC in 1949. It was originally created for children, but soon watched by more adults than children and counted Orson Welles, John Steinbeck, Tallulah Bankhead, and Adlai Stevenson among its many fans. It was so popular that fans wrote letters of outrage when it was cut back to 15 minutes in November 1951. In the diary, begun on January 22, 1951, Washburn recalls her confusion upon first watching the program: "It seems very funny now to think that when I was first told about 'the cute puppet show named Kukla, Fran & Ollie,' I thought it was disgusting that adults should want to watch such childish antics and vowed never to so much as even look at them. Now, although I still abhor all childish puppet programs, Kukla, Fran & Ollie and all the Kuklapolitans plus Jack & Linwood & all others have become a very real and precious part of my life. It is the only program on television that I would truly hate to miss…" Washburn's diary includes incidents from the show that stand out in her mind, among them: "Kukla and Ollie both asked Franie if they could kiss her goodnight. She said 'do you really want to?' And Kukla said, 'Are you kiddin?' Ollie said to turn around and face them and close your eyes, which she promptly did and they went down and up came Burr and buzzed her but good. What a surprise!" The remainder of the diary provides summaries for the KFO shows beginning January 22, 1951 through Monday April 23, missing just two days: March 1 and March 7. Amidst the overviews of each show, Washburn's enthusiasm comes through. For example, on March 16, she writes: "Today was Burr Tillstrom, artist, creator, genius and imaginative ability at its peak. He was in rare form, even for Tillstrom. The whole thing went off like a Hollywood production; one-two-three and without a flaw!" The summary of a KFO episode on March 19 sheds some light on how television programming was distributed at the time. The show begins with NBC calling to say the audio on the "kine" recording didn't get through to New York and the cast of characters on the show being questioned about it. "It finally came to light that the bobby pin Buela had loaned Franie was the one they had used to keep the machinery together and Buela disconnected it when she took the bobby pin and thus the audio didn't get through…" At that time, television programs were distributed around the country using kinescope, which was a recording of a television program from a video monitor. Kinescopes were the only way to record television broadcasts, or to distribute network television programs that were broadcast live from New York or other originating cities, to stations not connected to the network, or to stations that wished to show a program at a different time than the network broadcast. Along with the 108-page spiral bound diary, this archive includes an 8.5 x 11 inch signed black and white photo of the show's creator Burr Tillstrom, the 1951 edition of the Kuklapolitan Courier Year Book published by Tillstrom, 11 handwritten pages taken from a spiral-bound notebook and six typed pages on ruled, three-ring notepaper. The loose pages, which also contain show summaries, are folded and clipped to the back cover of the diary with a paperclip that has rusted. The diary is bound in stiff paper wrappers, with a handwritten title and label on the cover. The creator's name and address are affixed to the inside front cover of the diary. All in very good condition.
(Inventory #: 64641)
Literature, Poetry, California and the West, Travel and Exploration, Archives and Ephemera, Heavy Metal
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