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Fran Allison Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (3) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 20 November 1907La Porte City, Iowa, USA
Date of Death 13 June 1989Sherman Oaks, California, USA  (bone marrow failure)

Mini Bio (1)

A lovely and gracious presence amid a couple of scene-stealing puppets, Fran Allison was a shining star of radio and early TV, and enjoyed immense popularity with children for decades as the sole human element of the Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947) show.

The open-faced blonde singer, actress and comedienne was born on November 20, 1907, in La Porte City, Iowa and graduated in the late 1920s from Coe College in Cedar Rapids with a teaching degree. After spending a couple of years as a rural school instructor, she left her position after her brother, who was a musician, put together an orchestra and hired her on as a singer. By 1934 she had moved into radio singing work in Cedar Rapids and later in 1937 became a staff singer for NBC in Chicago. Her talents as a comedienne were also discovered and utilized. Most notably, she originated a gossipy radio character called "Aunt Fanny" that was a hit with audiences.

Fran met puppeteer Burr Tillstrom during WWII when they toured together in hospitals and orphanages on the same bill. Tillstrom thought Fran would be ideal as a genteel, prettified and sensible foil for his Kuklapolitan puppets, and on October 13, 1947, she made her series debut with Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947). The shows were, for the most part, done live and Fran was a charming and glamorous delight opposite Kukla, the bald, arch-browed, bulb-nosed leader of the troupe and Ollie, the droll, single-toothed dragon. Nominated for an Emmy in 1949 as "Most Outstanding Personality", the show received frequent Emmy nominations during its 1950s run. In 1953 it won as the "Best Children's Program". The syndicated version of the puppet show went off the air in 1976. The threesome also served as hosts for The CBS Children's Film Festival, which introduced international children's films, from 1967-1977. In addition, Fran also was the official pitchwoman for Whirlpool appliances in the years to come.

Married to music publisher Archie Levington, the couple had no children and eventually settled in Los Angeles. In her own mind, Fran felt like she was the mother to the millions of children who tuned in religiously to the show. Her husband died in 1978. In later life, Allison lived in Van Nuys, California, and died in 1989 from myelodysplasia, a bone marrow disease, at the age of 81 in Sherman Oaks. She was buried back in her home state of Iowa, at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Archie Levington (1941 - 1978) (his death)

Trivia (3)

Graduate of Coe College; Cedar Rapids, IA
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 16-17. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
Appears with puppets Kukla and Ollie on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Early TV Memories issue honoring Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947), issued 11 August 2009.

Personal Quotes (1)

I just fell into everything that's happened to me. I've worked hard and enjoyed every bit of it.

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