Saturday, January 09, 2010


Art Clokey and Gumby
Art Clokey and Gumby, his famous creation.

From Meryl Yourish comes the sad news: Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, is dead, having passed away in his sleep yesterday.

The beloved Gumby, along with his boon companion Pokey the horse, was brought to life through “Claymation,” Clokey’s version of stop-motion animation. Gumby’s lopsided head was inspired by Clokey’s father’s hairstyle, a hairstyle he knew only through photographs - for his father had been killed in a car wreck when Clokey was only eight years old.

A little-known fact: Gumby was modeled not only on Clokey’s father, but on the Golem of Prague, who was also created from clay and subsequently animated. The original name for the character, “Golemby,” was nixed in favor of “Gumby” by the Wrigley company, one of the sponsors of the Howdy Doody Show.

Clokey’s clay creations have always been popular, but in the 1980’s, Eddie Murphy’s unforgettable characterization of Gumby on SNL brought the Green Gumster to the attention of a whole new audience. Murphy’s Gumby was an ill-tempered old Jewish guy - “I’m Gumby, dammit!” - and the skits in which he appeared were pants-pissingly funny.

With Gumby and Pokey, and with his other creations Davey and Goliath (characters in an eponymous show with a Christian theme), Art Clokey made his living bringing clay to life. Alas, now he is naught but lifeless clay.

Ave atque vale, Art Clokey!

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