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Iowa History Daily: November 20 - Actress Fran Allison

Iowa History Daily: On November 20, 1907, actress Fran Allison was born in La Porte City. Best known for her starring role on the weekday NBC puppet show “Kukla, Fran and Ollie”, which ran from 1947 to 1957, Allison also hosted “The CBS Children's Film Festival,” introducing international children's films, from 1967 to 1977.

During Allison’s childhood in La Porte City, her father worked as a clerk in a grocery store until he died of a stroke in 1913. The family moved into a house which still stands on Sycamore Street in La Porte City with her paternal grandparents. A 1927 graduate of Coe College, Allison served as a fourth-grade teacher for four years in Schleswig and Pocahontas.

Allison started her broadcasting career at WMT-Waterloo before moving with the station to Cedar Rapids in 1935. Allison moved again, this time to Chicago, Illinois, in 1937, to work as a staff singer and personality on NBC Radio. During 1947, “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” first appeared on airwaves, and Allison acted as the only human to appear on the live series, filling the role of big sister and cheery voice of reason as the puppets, known as the Kuklapolitan Players.

During the late 1950s, she hosted “The Fran Allison Show,” a panel discussion TV program in Chicago. In 1950, Allison was nominated for an Emmy Award as Most Outstanding Kinescoped Personality. In 1967, Iowa Wesleyan University awarded her an honorary doctorate of letters. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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