I got this from a terrific site called The Kukla, Fran & Ollie Fan Page. Hope they don’t mind my giving them a little advertising. The article mentioned shows our hero, Burr Tilstrom, creating a fresh new Ollie puppet.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Last week I got lucky and found an old TV Guide on eBay with an article about how Burr made a new Ollie puppet. The book is from Oct 1956, and usually gets snatched up by bidders with bigger wallets than I have (I suspect they are old Ricky Nelson fans, since Ozzie, Harriett and the boys grace the cover).
What is particularly interesting about this article is that Burr not only talked about making Ollie, he let TV Guide photograph the process! Here he is sewing the spotted body (with Kukla helping, of course!):
As per the article, the material came from a fake ocelot coat owned by Imogene Coca (Sid Caesar’s leading lady on Your Show of Shows for the youngsters out there). That doesn’t seem so far fetched. The rest of Ollie’s “stuff” makes him a rather upscale Dragon indeed!
Ollie’s jaws were made from a “warped pear crate” and held together with scrap leather.His face is yellow satin and chin chamois. His eyes were made from kid gloves, lashes and brows wool felt.
But then we get to the good part. Supposedly Ollie’s hair was made from Mongolian wolf fur (!) and his insides “real gold cloth.” I admit, I’ve been busy with midterms, so I have not been able to research whether an actual Mongolian wolf exists (or did exist 50 years ago). I know that the anti-fur movement is somewhat new, but somehow I can’t imagine Burr Tillstrom, who later in his life was something of an environmentalist, using the fur of a dead animal on his puppets (Ollie’s hair always looks synthetic to me anyway. Were synthetics available in 1956?) And gold cloth “innards”? PLEASE! Ollie made alot of money for his “boss,” but it’s hard to believe that Burr paid him back by giving him gold cloth lining.
Me thinks that either Mr. Tillstrom, the writer, or possibly both were pulling our legs. I could be wrong. Anyone know? Anyway, here’s more pictures of Burr creating what has to be the world’s most spoiled rotten Dragon!