Descriptive inventory for the Burr Tillstrom papers, 1926-1986, bulk 1947-1985

Burr Tillstrom papers

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid

Descriptive inventory for the Burr Tillstrom papers, 1926-1986, bulk 1947-1985

Prepared by Catherine Blauvelt, 2016.
Please address questions to:
Chicago History Museum, Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Instructions for accessing this collection

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Burr Tillstrom papers, 1926-1986 (inclusive), 1947-1985 (bulk)
Creator: Burr Tillstrom
Dates: 1926-1986 (inclusive), 1947-1985 (bulk)
Accession numbers: 1985.0386
Bib number: 00064733
Call numbers: MSS Lot T
MSS Oversize T
OMM 112
Size: 60 linear feet (53 HB, 5 flat boxes, 1 tube, 18 volumes, 3 audio boxes (6 5-inch reels, 10 7-inch reels, 2 45-RPM record albums, 1 8-track cassette, 18 cassette tapes), 1 oversize folder)
Language of material:Collection is written in English.

Provenance statement:

Most of the collection was a gift of Burr Tillstrom ((accession #:1985.0386). Letter 1947 Sept. 9 was a gift of Mrs. Amos B. Brown (accession #:1990.0304). Photcopy of letter 1947 Sept. 9 was a gift of Mrs. Amos B. Brown (accession #:1989.0286). Autographed Kuklapolitan Courier year Book, 1951, was a gift of Wendy Mancini (accession #:2003.0255).

Terms governing use:

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.


For listening purposes, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening copy made if one is not available).

Please cite this collection as:

Burr Tillstrom papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Additional Materials +/-

Related material:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include photographs and recordings of programs. Includes the Burr Tillstrom collection of "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" visual materials (1985.0549); the Burr Tillstrom photograph collection (G.1982.0183); and the "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" collection of visual materials from Fran Allison (1989.0791). Puppets are among the artifacts held by Chicago History Museum.

Collection Summary +/-

Scrapbooks, musical scores, audio recordings, correspondence, and other papers related to Burr Tillstrom’s children’s television program, “Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” based on his puppet characters. Includes letter by Burr Tillstrom to “September Bride DoDo,” 1947 Sept. 9, describing how Kukla and Ollie reacted to news of her wedding, 3p; September Bride was Theodora W. Brown (Mrs. Amos B. Brown). Also included is Burr Tillstrom’s Kuklapolitan Courier Year Book, published by Burr Tillstrom, 1951 (signed: “To Pete/All our best/wishes!/Burr” on first page), which referred to Pete Mancini, who worked on the “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” show for five years in the 1950s.

Biographical/Historical Note +/-

Franklin Burr Tillstrom was a puppeteer and the creator of the "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" television show. In 1917, Tillstrom was born in Chicago, Illinois. As a child he entertained the neighborhood children by performing puppet shows through a window in his home and later participated in high school theater. In 1935, Tillstrom attended the University of Chicago, but left after one semester to join the Works Progress Administration's Chicago Parks' Theater. Kukla was created in 1936, and in 1939, Tillstrom was invited to present all of his Kuklapolitan Players at the New York World's Fair. The "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie" show debuted on WBKB in Chicago in 1947. In 1949, NBC began broadcasting the show, and five years later the show moved to ABC, where it ran until 1957. Tillstrom continued to work with the Kuklapolitans after the show ended; two seasons of the "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" show appeared on National Education Television in 1970, and in 1975, thirteen new episodes were aired on television. Tillstrom earned five Emmy and two Peabody awards; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1986. In 1985 he died at his home in Palm Springs, California.

Catalog Subject Headings +/-

Children’s television programs -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
Children’s television programs -- United States -- 20th century
Dragon, Oliver J. (Fictitious character)
Kukla (Fictitious character)
Puppeteers -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
Puppeteers -- United States -- 20th century
Television broadcasting -- United States -- 20th century
Television broadcasting –Illinois -- Chicago --20th century
Television programs -- United States -- 20th century
Television programs – Illinois – Chicago -- 20th century
Tillstrom, Burr -- Archives
Phonograph records
Sheet music
Chicago (Ill.) -- Commerce -- 20th century
Chicago (Ill.) -- Intellectual life --20th century
Chicago (Ill.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
United States -- Social life and customs -- 20th century

Organization and Arrangement of Collection +/-

The collection is arranged in seven series.

Click on heading to view series description.

Series 1. Burr Tillstrom and Puppets, 1926-1985 (Box 1-5, 23, 47-49, 73, 75-77, 82)
Series 2. “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” (Television program), 1940s–1986 (box 6-12, 73)
Series 3. Publicity, 1937-1986 (box 12-17, 19-20, 74, 79-81)
Series 4. Musical scores, 1948-1970 (box 21, 22, 24-46)
Series 5. “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” programs, script and record book, 1948-1980 (box 18, 50-51, 65-67, 78)
Series 6. Scrapbooks, 1947–1986, (box 52-64, 68-69)
Series 7. Audio recordings, 1952-1985 (box 70-72)

About This Finding Aid +/-

Creation: Finding aid encoded by Catherine Blauvelt using Oxygen editor, 2016.
Language: Finding aid is written in English.
Other Finding Aids: Finding aid also submitted to Explore Chicago Collections portal.
you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search