EXPIRED: 01/08/10 – Art Clokey, 89, brought us Gumby, Pokey, Davey & Goliath and for that we are eternally grateful.
I woke up early every Sunday to watch Davey & Goliath get into trouble and raced home from school to watch Gumby and Pokey get out of it, all thanks to Clokey. He was a pioneer in stop motion clay animation, beginning in 1955 with a film experiment called Gumbasia, an homage to Walt Disney’s Fantasia.
At the tender age of 9, Clokey’s parents divorced. He lived with his father until his father’s death in a car accident resulted in his relocation to California to live with his mother. Instead, he was placed in a half-way house orphanage after one year because his stepfather did not want him around.
By the time he was 12 he was adopted by Joseph Clokey, a music teacher who encouraged Art’s artistic inclinations. The resulting Gumbasia, from 1955, took it’s name from the clay that Clokey played with at his grandfather’s farm in Northern California. They called the muddy clay “gumbo.”
Gumbasia, and his other early films – Mandala and The Clay Peacock – are bizarre adult pieces, but they intrigued Sam Engel, who was then president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association, enough that he financed the pilot for what became The Gumby Show in 1957.
If you were a kid in the 60’s you had a Gumby or a Pokey action figure. Mine was Pokey, and the wires stuck out of his legs cause I played with him too much. I wish I had him still.
RIP – Art. You rocked.