Jack Mulqueen was born and bred on the South Side of Chicago. His father, John Mulqueen, was from Kilrush Clare, Ireland, and his mother, Marie, from the Chicago's South Side. While his father worked most of his life as a lab technician curing meats for the Swift meat company, Jack was attracted to show business, movies, and puppets from an early age. At every opportunity young Jack entertained family, friends and neighbors, and his father soon realized Jack was one ham he couldn't cure.
At Chicago Vocational High School, Jack wrote and produced a series of plays for fellow students and got his first taste of television when given the opportunity to interview Hollywood producer Ross Hunter. He moved on in college in Terre Haute, Indiana, to his own weekly radio show and producing a children's TV special at WTHI. Soon after, based in Colorado Springs during the Korean War, Jack honed his puppeteering skills at the Army social club, performing acts laced with military humor. When new TV station KKTV started up near the base, the program director gave Jack and his puppets a thrice-weekly, 15-minute on-air segment.
Back in Chicago after the Army, the Chicago Park District sponsored half-hour appearances of Jack and his puppets on WTTW-TV. Over a subsequent 15-year TV career from the '50s through the early '60s—in the golden age of Chicago children's television—Mulqueen produced commercials, segments, and television programs, often by the skin of his teeth with every last ounce of ingenuity and hustle! He was at the helm of three Chicago Emmy-nominated kid shows: The Mulqueens and The Mulqueens' Kiddie-A-Go-Go (both starring his wife, Elaine, as "Pandora"), and the dance program The Swingin' Majority, shows that ran variously on WGN-TV, WLS-TV, and WCIU-TV. Also in this era, the Mulqueens had a regular spot on Bozo's Circus and made live guest appearances at venues across Chicagoland.
After leaving kids' TV Jack launched several successful business ventures including packaging advertising promotions for Walt Disney Pictures, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the Ice Capades, and operating the Hollywood Collectibles Show for 16 years. The Mulqueens now live in the Chicago suburbs.
Enjoy historic video clips at
Mulqueen’s public programs!
Jack Mulqueen maintains an active schedule of nostalgic talks for Chicago-area organizations and libraries, during which he shares his insider's tales of that bygone era of Chicago children's television and highlights many of the local kids' shows from the late '40s to the mid-'70s—Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Ding Dong School, Super Circus, Garfield Goose and Friends, Ray Rayner and His Friends, Bozo's Circus, Gigglesnort Hotel, and more—with a 15-minute VHS-format video collage.