The way it worked, if you have never seen it, there are six 'stars' who are on each week....and two contestants competing against one another...and the wonderful Gene Rayburn, who had an early morning radio show when I was growing up...yes, my lovely's, it was before television, and it was wonderful...and HE was wonderful...he had what I used to call a "breakfast voice"...which was a great thing to me...anyway, Gene (the 'breakfast voice') Rayburn was the MC of Match Game....and 'Questions' would be asked like...."Dumb Dora was so dumb....(and the audience would all scream....'How Dumb Is She?'....)
and then Gene Rayburn would read the rest of the question and the rest of the question would be something like this..."Dumb Dora was Sooo Dumb that when her husband asked her to cook something for dinner, she cooked a...BLANK...!
Then the six stars would write their answers on a card, filling in that 'blank', and when they all were ready, the contestant who's turn it was would be asked by Gene Rayburn to give his or her answer...
and the hope was that all the stars would have written down something that matched that contestants answer, and when and if all six stars matched that contestant, he or she was the winner and then went on to the next level where that one contestent was asked to fill in the blank on a short phrase, like...BLANK Sucker. (the possabilities included:All day; Blood; and Sear..)
Then, picking out three of the six stars to win one of three levels, $100, $250, and $500....trying to match the most popular answers to this phrase that had been asked of 100 people. THEN, the contestant would choose one answer that one of the 3 stars gave or choose an answer of their own...and depending on if they got a 'Match' with one of those stars, continue on for the BIG money which was 10 times the 'correct' answer given, and once again choosing ONE star to go head to head with on the final question..(such as: Shelley Blank) which had to be an exact match. Nobody ever won a huge amount of money because it wasn't there to win (though it looked pretty good back then though, didn't it?)...but a lot of laughs were had by everyone....it was a very simple easy fun game that was very benevolent in it's competativeness...nothing ruthless here, whatsoever.....it was a different time...
Of course the draw here, were the 'stars. There were two "regulars" all week, every week for all the years it was on...
Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly. I just happened to know both of them...I had met Brett back when we were doing "Spoon River" on Broadway..and she was a lot of fun and a very good actress, too....
And Charles, who is a wonderfully funny, clever, and an extremely talented actor-director....and they sat next to each other on the 'Match Game' panel and always sparred in jest, (they were very good friends) which made for a lot of laughs...Then there were the semi regulars...in the first chair on the top tier it could be anyone from Nipsy Russell to Pat Morita ....but it was always a 'man' in that position...And in the 4th position it was always a female star of some television show...Eva Gabor, Lee Meriwether,
(another old friend) or Barbara Eden, etc...women known for their beauty as well as their talent...
In the fifth position usually always a man of humor...like Richard Dawson or McLean Stevenson or
Dick Martin...and in the last position it was always a female associated with humor.... and there were a couple of 'Semi' Regulars..Betty White, Marcia Wallace and Fanny Flagg
....So this made for a wonderful mix of silly clever people and it is great fun to watch the re-runs...
So....all this is by way of getting to Kukla, Fran & Ollie.
I don't know if any of you will remember them or if you don't, will even know who they were....They were, in a word, SUBLIME! Clever, Witty, Funny, Talented, Quick as Quick-silver, and so sweet and filled with love. KF&A, which came from Chicago and was broadcast "live" every day--no tape, no film-- started out as a kids show, but adults loved them a lot, because what they did trancsended age...their fun loving humor was ageless....
Kukla and Ollie were puppets....'voiced' by and held and moved by, as well as having been created by Burr Tillstrom....coming from the mind and heart of this brilliantly and uniquely talented man....and Fran was an actual 'human' who was in front of the little proscenium, where Kukla & Ollie performed while Fran stood in front of them talking with them or singing with them or many times, laughing with them.
Kukla was the heart of the show...a sweet, kind, loving little guy...Ollie was a 'Dragon'...and he was adorable looking...
he had along neck and this Dragon Fur on the top of his head, and this one-single tooth, (adorable!!) and he could be somewhat selfish and slightly mean..(Never really seriously mean, mind you...) and he was often rather narcissistic, where as Kukla was completely without ego...They played off of each other so beautifully...and their love for one another was undeniably clear and these relationships were the basis for all the humor that would ensue each day; and Fran's love for both of them and all the other Kuklapolitan Players was at the heart of this innovative very dear show, too, coming into our living rooms, every day...early evening really...through the magic of this then pretty new medium, television.
The thing is: They never seemed like puppets...they were, 'People'. As sure as you and I are flesh and blood people...THEY were flesh & blood people..so when Fran conversed with them it was 'people' talking to people, and it didn't matter that Ollie looked like a Dragon...he was such a whole personality, as was the very dear Kukla, too...your imagination made that 'leap of faith'...and they were as real as you and me
....you just wanted to hug both of them!
A miraculous thing to have done, at that time....Burr Tillstrom was a true innovater and pioneer in the Television field....and their fans were legion and loyal, beyond words. This show was a little bit of 'love' in your day...a day that might have been very very hard...but would be eased by the simple humanity of these wonderful people who just crawled into your heart...and stayed there, forever...look, I'm still talking about them....and I still love them just the way I did when I first 'fell in love with' them.....you see, they captured my heart, and they still have it.
I was reminded of Burr Tillstrom's brilliance the other week when Kukla & Ollie were in 'The First Chair' in The "Match Game" re-run, for that week....the only thing missing on Match Game was Fran, and of course some of the other characters that Burr Tillstrom had created for the "Kukla, Fran & Ollie" show all the years before...Some of the other Kuklapolitan Players were, Madame Ooglepuss, Beaulah Witch,
(A hilarious character, that I truly love, love, loved!), Cecil Bill, Colonel Crackie and Fletcher Rabbit. There were a few other characters, too...like Dolores Dragon...Oliee's relative...They would put on plays and do special songs written especially for them...and as I understand it, they never used a written script, as such...but talked about many every day things, like paying your taxes...Tillstrom always said: "...you don't need a script when talking to friends"...Oh, how right he was. And this show had a very great influence on all the other 'Puppet Shows' that followed, like Sesame Street and The Muppets...without Burr Tillstrom and Kukla, Fran & Ollie there would have been no Sesame Street or Muppets....Tillstrom paved the way for them....
Kukla, Fran & Ollie crawled into the hearts of their viewers and generated an incredible amount of fan mail, plus never changing the basic way in which the show was presented, using that little proscenium with Kukla & Ollie behind it and Fran Allison in front of it....I think the thing I remember most about them was the love that was always present in all that they did...they loved each other in spite of their differences, and we, the audience LOVED them, with all our hearts....a love that went on for decades and here, for me, still goes on, watching a rerun of a show from the late 7o's when they were already considered 'nostalgia', then!
Amazing...simply amazing. Now here it is almost 2006, and Kukla, Fran & Ollie can still fill me with this warm soft loving feeling that makes me smile whenever I think of them. That's longetivity, in a career. Burr Tillstrom is gone and so is Fran Allison...so, therefor, that means Kukla & Ollie are gone, too...never to be heard from again...except in old kinescopes or tapes of there classic performances, or on The Game Show Network, in reruns of "Match Game".....these are the true treasures of a lifetime.....
For a special treat, go to the comments and scroll down to Danny's comment and click on the word HERE, or click on the name just below here and see some hilarious clips of Kukla,Fran & Ollie....My two favorites are the "Mikado" clip with Madame Ooglepuss, and Beaulah Witch in The Spanish Dance Clip...
Thank You Soooo Much Danny, for this....I've just spent a truly delightful hour back-in-time, with these very dear dear people....
I just love reading your stories. Simply fascinating. I used to love Kukla, Fran & Ollie...but not sure if what I saw was real or syndicated (late 60s early 70s).
I also love Charles Nelson Reilly.
I loved Kukla, Fran & Ollie as a kid! I grew up in Chicago and there were so many good children's shows on TV, Bozo, Ray Rayner, Garfield Goose....I was reminiscing with all those on Christmas Eve when the Chicago station, WGN, ran a special showing clips of all those. Thanks for reminding me of another one of my childhood favorites!
OOPs here via Michele's but you know I'd be here anyway! ;)
although i never met the puppets, boy i recognized some of the wonderful talent you mentioned. Charles Nelson Riley has always been a favorite, but when mentioned Dick Martin i had such wonderful memories come flooding back of growing up on Rowana and Martin's Laugh In. i still catch the reruns of that show on the trio channel. I remember circling the telly with my dad and sister while my mom cleaned up the dinner dishes, watching the singing and dancing.
perhaps i shoudl tune into the game show channel to see a few of my old favorites. i hadnt tried that channel, since im not a fan of game shows too much, but the old ones might be worth a peek. thanks.
I remember watching Kukla Fran & Ollie reruns as a child and I loved them. I also loved Match Game. Good memories you brought back. :)
Wow, what a blast from the past. I remember Gene Rayburn from Match Game. Maybe it was just me, but he always seemed a bit sleazy.
Visiting from Michele's!
What a lovely post! The Match Game sounds a lot like a show called Blankety Blank in the UK. It was around in the late 70's early 80's - in fact check out this link http://www.ukgameshows.com/index.php/Blankety_Blank it credits Match Game as being what the show was based on. Very cool...and lots of memories for me too. Ironically the British version was hosted by morning BBC radio DJ Icon Terry Wogan - small world eh?
Ohhh yes, by the way ...here via Michele
I wasn't a big Kukla Fran and Ollie fan, because it found it a bit creepy, but I LOVED the matchgame. A good friend of ours, Bea Benederit (and I know that's not spelled right) was on the show several times. Her daughter Maggie Bannon was one of my best friends, and her son Jack Bannon was one of my first crushes. :-)
Michele sent me.
Wow... look at that one picture with a cigarette. Remember THOSE days when you could smoke on television? Wow.
What a splendid read. I've never heard of the show, but I'm keen on looking it up...what a wonderful indepth review you gave though. Michele sent me your way today.
Okay stupid question of the day, and one I can easily look up but have been vaguely wondering about for days.
What show did Lee Meriweather star in? Can look it up, it's just funny that you mentioned her becaue it's been at the back of my mind for days
I never saw Kukla, Fran and Ollie but there were puppets from my childhood which I still remember dearly to this day. Casey, a boy and his non-talking dog, Finnegan from Mr. Dressup were the greatest Canadian puppets.
I used to watch that game show all the time, I loved Charles Nelson Reilly.
Naomi, what wonderful memories you have brought back! First: Match Game, the best game show ever on TV and Kukla, Fran and Ollie - who were some of my favorites way back when. I even met Fran and I have her autograph. I may put it on the blog if I can find it. The show came to our town when I was about 12, and I went down to the stage during the ovation and got an autograph. Heady stuff for a 12 year old!
Oops, Michele sent me tonight!
I love matchgame!
Michele sent me, Naomi.
I remember Kukla, Fran & Ollie but from a later time than you're writing of. Fran had a children's show in the late 60s when I was a kid and she used her puppets to introduce short films, usually serious, oriented towards young people.
I remember Rayburn and Match Game quite well--as well as all the joking around that went on as well as Rayburn's pretend admonishments to the celebrities that didn't answer seriously. Ha!
Naomi, I just posted my autograph and some stuff about Fran. Come and see!
What wonderful memories!! I always loved the Match Game and seeing how many I could match. That was always a favorite.
You have had such an exciting life and knowing all these people! You write it all so well too dear Naomi! No wonder your blog is so popular!! Next thing you know you'll be winning blogger of the year and you are so new to it! You rock Naomi! Way to go!! Give yourself a big pat on the back from me.
Your game show sounds just like our Blankety Blank in the 80's, compered by the unutterably adorable Terry Wogan (now Sir Terry Wogan). Funniest game show ever on TV :-)
I used to love Sesame Street for the children. Most of my families have been plonked down in front of The Count, Bert and Ernie and all their fuzzy friends.
In which case - Thank you, Burr Tillstrom - and thank you, OOL, for such a warm post :-)
Oh my, somebody's actually smoking on TV...
Here from Michele's!
I always enjoy your posts, now even more when I am indoors as lack of visibility stops me from going out to ski! a quick bonjour from the Alps, having a great time.
And visiting dear blog friends.
Not from Michele's today (yet), just dropped by to clear this up:
"You speak another language my dear....Blogfest Speak...
And, I'm lost!
Here from Michele..sorry I do nit have a clue to what you are talking about! (lol) "
If you look to the right of the screen on my blog Gamer for a Laugh, you see the sidebar. The things with green writing on them are navigation buttons. Click the one that says "Blogs I Visit" and you should see some animated (moving in one way or another) pictures. That is what I speak of. If it doen't work, please let me know as it might be broken...
Well, I must be old too if I remember K, F & O as well as Match Game (which my kids love, by the way.) My favorite part of Match Game was Gene's ridiculously long microphone. They just don't make 'em like that anymore! Thanks for the memories!
Michele sent me!
Oh, Naomi, you are so right about "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie," they were the absolute best. And Fran Allison was so brilliant you always believed that SHE believed those puppets were real and her close friends. My brother worked briefly for Burr Tillstrom in Chicago and said he was the greatest. Recently I went to the Museum of TV in Beverly Hills and watched a wonderful Person-to-Person interview between Edward R. Murrow and a very young Burr Tillstrom who was getting his house ready for his annual Christmas party. You have to see it.
Of course I'm also a huge fan of those golden years of "Match Game" (I don't remember when Kukla and Ollie were on!) and we often joke that Kendall's mom's house is where all the former Match Game contestants end up. We're hoping to see at least three of them this weekend on New Year's Eve. (Did you know that Brett Somers is Kendall's godmother?) It was great to see so many nice comments about Charles and I agree that his repartee with Brett is one of the main reasons to make sure your cable company offers the Game Show Network.
I also identified with Beulah Witch, she was my favorite! I can sit here and remember her line readings that I last saw 40 years ago and break into laughter. Remember when the Kuklapolitans did their own production of "The Mikado?" You can see clips of it here.
I can't believe you know all those people! That is crazy.
And smoking during the show? That cracks me up.
Michele sent me.
You know, I do remember these wonderful characters but never did remember their names. The true mark of a great piece of art is something that can touch your heart long after you've experienced it. Great memories.
Hello, here from the Thursday Thirteen blogroll and just wanted to say hi. :)
Wow! Thanks for that trip down memory lane. I remeber KF&O fondly. I was also a Beaulah fan.
you have been tagged!
To answer your question: I know what caused you to go to the old post - but I don't know how it happened. Does that make sense? The link to my blog which shows up in Michele's comments somehow got tagged with the url for that old post, and several of you went to that instead of to the new one. Don't ask me how that happened - I have no idea!
Naomi, I tried to see the site Danny sent - but it says it cannot be found. Maybe it timed out. Too bad. A friend read my post this a.m. and emailed me that Lee Merriweather's sister was our weathergirl in Chas. back in the 50's-60's and now she works at a local restaurant there. I never knew she was Lee's sister. Small world!
Now I'm having trouble accessing my Kukla, Fran, and Ollie link too. Hmmm, maybe so many people read "Here in the Hills" that they're inundated with more hits than they can handle! I'll keep trying and I'll post an alternative URL if I can find one (those clips are too good to miss).
Wow, I guess I'm both too young and from the wrong country to really know anything.
Fun pictures, though...
Came here from Michele.
I loved this post, I've not seen any of these shows although Match Game sounds like a gameshow we used to have over here... Blankety Blank!
I'm here from Michele's HI!
Charles Nelson Riley and Richard Dawson are my favorites. Every once in awhile I watch the Match Game, and it is always great fun.
Match Game! What a hoot. And I too loved Kukla, Fran & Ollie when I was a child.
I used to watch the Match Game while folding diapers. We actually used *gasp* real cloth for diapers.
I remember all of these people. *sigh*
Michele sent me back, OOLOTH. I think our posts were a big hit today, don't you?
I used to love Match Game...we would play it at home on snow days as kids with our mom...well our own version. Richard Dawson, Brett and Charles always cracked me up. And you could smoke on the set...how wierd to see that now. I love your stories!
Oh my gosh, those were fun to watch! I remember the Match Game very well. The answers some of them came up with were hilarious. Dick Martin was always so funny. Was Toti Fields on that show? She & Paul Lynde were 2 of my favorite comedians; it's too bad they both passed away so young. I remember her being on the Michael Douglas show a lot.
While I don't remember Kukla, Fran & Ollie, this was like walking down memory lane.
What a delightful blog--found you via Danny Miller.
Both your blog and his are like a breath of fresh TV/movie trivia air!
In the famous words of Arnold: "I'll be back!"
[puts on coat]
[books ticket to LA]
I'm coming to help!! :-)
Naomi, I saw La Cage in LA in the late 80's or maybe early 90's. I don't rememberany specific numbers, just the overall show and how beautiful and talented they were. Too bad it is not still there.
Here's how I did the "trackback". at the end of your post on Kukla, etc., there is a line that says "links to this post". I clicked on that and then clicked
"yes" or "okay" (I can't remember what) and when I went back to my site - there it was!
Back again: in the trackback, you click that link and when the little window shows up, you click "Publish" in the upper right-hand corner.
i love reading all your stories, i look forward to comming to your blog everyday. I am a bit young to know about any of it but i still enjoy reading about it all.
Everytime I see the Match Game on GSN I always stop and watch.
That had to be one of the randiest shows on television.... I mean, half of the blanks and statements led one down a very sick path if you're inclined to think that way...
And I usually am.
Thanks for the stories!
hehehe. I am quite ignoramus on those series but with your descriptions they are quite interesting and makes me to look and search for it on the net
hi naomi! i loved reading about kukla, fran & ollie! wish i had heard about them before. i'm sure i would have been enthralled. i had only ever seen the muppets and lambchop previously. and i love stephen sondheim too! :)
I too have such wonderful memories of Kukla, Fran and Oli. Let us not forget Shari Lewis and Lambchop as well.
Wishing you a happy 2006.
I've never heard of that show before! But I remember watching reruns of the Match Game with my hubby. I think my fav celebrity was Betty White...I just love her!
Btw, Michele sent me.
I haven't thought of Kukla, Fran and Ollie in YEARS!
How long did it take you to read this far down your lost of comments? I've never seen this many!
enjoy your movie marathon!
michele sent me today
I loved Match Game! Of course, by the time I watched it, it was all reruns, but my sister and I loved that one, and Price Is Right. We always got to watch those when we were home sick from school. How fun! Michele sent me today!
None of these shows ever aired here but I do know most of the names you mentioned :)
Big Krofft fan so I know Charles for sure :)
Michele sent me tonight but I was actually here earlier today and never commented oops !!
hello my dear friend! michele sent me back. don't know if you know about this site already - http://www.sondheimguide.com/ - but it is a great one for sondheim fans. :)
I don't remember Kukla, Fran and Ollie...but do vagually remember Howdy Doody. The Match Game was fun and I love hearing about the people you know.
Unusual blog. I liked the site its from so much I
have to visit it again! I surf the web for blogs like
yours in my spare time.
Hey son, you need to check out my pr puerto rico house cleaning blog!
Enjoyed all your KFO memories, but was disappointed that you didn't provide a link to my KFO site, kukla.tv. Could you add it so others can access the audio and video clips there?
Oh my goodness!!! I had never (have never) heard of Match Game but halfway through reading your post, I realised that I *do* know this show - the Australian version that is (and bet you didn't even know there was an Australian version!!) - it was called 'Blankety Blanks' and was hosted by a very well known and respected Australian tv personality, Graham Kennedy (who they called 'The King' of Australian TV btw). He passed away a few years ago, but is still very revered here in Australia, I actually think they are doing a tv miniseries based on his life.
Anyway, just thought you would find it interesting to know about the Australain counterpart to your show!
Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
Location: Los Angeles, California