Taking a Leading Role
Portrait of Fran Norris

Fran Norris

Fran Norris (1911-1988) is better known to Ohioans as "Aunt Fran." The one-time housewife and mother created and starred in the pioneering children's TV show, "Aunt Fran and Her Playmates," which aired daily over WBNS-TV in Columbus from 1950 to 1957. It is generally considered to be the first program to successfully fuse the new medium of television with the idea of educating the young. By contrast, "Ding Dong School" did not begin until 1952, and "Romper Room" not until 1954.

The three main segments of each show--"finger plays," story-telling, and craft-making--were designed to encourage "creative response," an expression of creativity, motivation and action, that would help a child develop his or her social and cognitive skills.

View the Fran Norris Digital Gallery