Hand puppet, handmade of of fabric and plastic. Head of knit cloth pulled over a form stitched from under nose to under chin and painted flesh color; turquoise and purple/blue lines at mouth and circle behind black bead eyes, with a blond wig styled with hairpiece made of red feathers and beads. Body consists of black cotton lined with white cotton with brass ring at bottom, wearing a gown of blue metallic cloth with tweed trim at head and neck; felt and chamois hands sewn in slits inside of gown connecting to liner.
This hand puppet was created by Chicago puppeteer Burr Tillstrom around 1947 for the television puppet show Junior Jamboree, which later became Kukla, Fran and Ollie. The show aired on WBKB and later NBC. Beulah Witch is part of a collection including more than a hundred puppets and marionettes donated by Tillstrom's estate.
This hand puppet is the character Beulah Witch from the popular children's television show Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
Burr Tillstrom's televised puppet show Kukla, Fran and Ollie, was broadcast nationally from 1948 to 1957 on NBC. It was an influential program that was part of the Chicago School of Television. Shows like Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Garroway at Large and Studs' Place were informal and spontaneous, attempting to create a show directed at home-viewers instead of studio audiences. Tillstrom's show, which featured conversations and songs with a cast of puppets called the Kuklapolitans, joined by performer Fran Allison, was almost completely improvised. Tillstrom was born in Chicago and attended the University of Chicago for a single year before joining the Chicago Park District's puppet theatre, a Works Progress Administration project. Tillstrom managed a puppet theater at Marshall Field's department store and performed at local hospitals during World War II, after which he found national success on television and radio with his lovable characters.