Art Clokey

Art Clokey
Art Clokey
Arthur "Art" Clokey
Born Arthur Charles Farrington
October 12, 1921(1921-10-12)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died January 8, 2010(2010-01-08) (aged 88)
Los Osos, California, U.S.
Occupation Animator
Years active 1955–1995
Known for Creator of Gumby

Arthur "Art" Clokey (October 12, 1921 – January 8, 2010) was a pioneer in the popularization of stop motion clay animation, beginning in 1955 with a film experiment called Gumbasia, influenced by his professor, Slavko Vorkapich, at the University of Southern California.[1][2]

After the Gumbasia project, Art Clokey and his wife Ruth came up with the clay character Gumby. Gumby and his horse Pokey became a familiar presence on American television; they had their start in the Howdy Doody Show, and later got their own series The Adventures of Gumby. The characters enjoyed a renewal of interest in the 1980s when American actor and comedian Eddie Murphy parodied Gumby in a skit on Saturday Night Live. In the 1990s Gumby: The Movie was released, sparking even more interest.

Clokey's second most famous production is the duo of Davey and Goliath, funded by the Lutheran Church in America.[3]


Gumbasia, The very first stop motion clay animation movie by Art Clokey

Clokey was born Arthur Charles Farrington in Detroit, Michigan. When he was nine years old, his parents divorced and he stayed with his father, Charles Farrington. After his father died in a car accident, he went to live with his mother in California, but his stepfather had no interest in raising another man's son, and so Arthur was sent to an orphanage. When he was 12, he was adopted by Joseph W. Clokey, a classical music composer and organist who taught music at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He schooled Arthur in painting, drawing, and film making while also taking him on journeys to Canada and Mexico. The aesthetic environment later became the home of Clokey's most famous character, Gumby, whose name derives from his childhood experiences during summer visits to his grandfather's farm, when he enjoyed playing with the clay and mud mixture called "gumbo".[4]

At Webb School in Claremont, young Clokey came under the influence of teacher Ray Alf, who took students on expeditions digging for fossils and learning about the world around them. Clokey later studied geology at Pomona College, before leaving Pomona in 1943 to join the military during World War II. He graduated from his adoptive father's alma mater, Miami University, in 1948.[citation needed]

Art Clokey also made a few highly experimental and visually inventive short clay animation films for adults, including his first student film Gumbasia (1955), the visually rich Mandala (1977) — described by Clokey as a metaphor for evolving human consciousness — and the equally bizarre The Clay Peacock (1963), an elaboration on the animated NBC logo of the time.[5][6] Consisting of animated clay shapes contorting to a jazz score, Gumbasia so intrigued Samuel G. Engel, then president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association, that he financed the pilot film for what became Clokey's The Gumby Show (1957). The title Gumbasia was in homage to Walt Disney's Fantasia.

Clokey is credited with the clay-animation title sequence for the 1965 beach movie Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine starring Vincent Price and Frankie Avalon. His son, Joe Clokey, continued the Davey and Goliath cartoon in 2004. In March 2007, KQED-TV broadcast an hour-long documentary Gumby Dharma as part of their Truly CA series.

In 1995, Clokey and Dallas McKennon teamed up again for Gumby: The Movie, a feature film. The movie was not a success at the box office and was widely panned by critics.

In the mid-1990s, Nickelodeon signed a contract with Art Clokey to air every episode of Gumby for its anchor spots at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. It was on top of their ratings for over three years.

Clokey died in his sleep on January 8, 2010, at age 88, at his home in Los Osos, California after suffering from a recurrent bladder infection.[7][8][9]

Screenshot of the Google doodle honouring Clokey. From left to right: the two Blockheads, Prickle, Goo, Gumby himself, and Pokey (all characters from Gumby).

On October 12, 2011, which would have been Clokey's 90th birthday, Google paid homage to Clokey's life and works with an interactive logo doodle in the style of his clay animations, produced by Premavision Studios..[10]


  1. ^ Tim Lawson, Alisa Persons, ed (2004). University Press in hd ??????? of Mississippi. p. 120. ISBN 9781578066964. 
  2. ^ TV personalities: biographical sketch book: Volume 3. St. Louis, Mo. : TV Personalities. 1957. OCLC 2470684. 
  3. ^ "Who Are Davey and Goliath?". Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  4. ^ Louis Kaplan, Scott Michaelsen, Art Clokey, ed (1986). Gumby: the authorized biography of the world's favorite clayboy. Harmony Books. 
  5. ^ These films have recently become available for purchase by the public and are included in the Rhino box-set release of Gumby's television shorts.
  6. ^ The Clay Peacock, Gumby World
  7. ^ Felch, Jason. "Art Clokey dies at 88; creator of Gumby", Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2010
  8. ^ Fox, Margalit (January 11, 2010). "Art Clokey, Animator Who Created Gumby, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ Pemberton, Patrick S. "'Gumby' creator and Los Osos resident Art Clokey dies", Tribune, January 8, 2010
  10. ^ Art Clokey: How Gumby got his name, Christian Science Monitor, retrieved 2010-10-12.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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