|Born||Arthur Charles Farrington
October 12, 1921
|Died||January 8, 2010
Los Osos, California
|Known for||Creator of Gumby|
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Clokey (m. 1948; div. 1966)
Gloria Clokey (m. 1976; d. 1998)
Arthur "Art" Clokey (October 12, 1921 – January 8, 2010) was an American pioneer in the popularization of stop motion clay animation, best known as the creator of the character Gumby. Clokey's career began in 1955 with a film experiment called Gumbasia, which was influenced by his professor, Slavko Vorkapich, at the University of Southern California. Clokey and his wife Ruth subsequently came up with the clay character Gumby and his horse Pokey, who first appeared in the Howdy Doody Show, and later got their own series The Adventures of Gumby, with which they became a familiar presence on American television. 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 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 11 or 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".
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 father's alma mater, Miami University, in 1948.
Art Clokey also made a few highly experimental and visually inventive short clay animation films for adults, including his first student film Gumbasia (produced in 1953 and released in 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. 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.
The Clokeys are credited with the clay-animation title sequences for the 1965 beach movies Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. His son, Joe Clokey, continued the Davey and Goliath cartoon in 2004. In March 2007, KQED-TV broadcast the 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, Fox and Cartoon Network 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.
Death and legacy
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.
- Tim Lawson; Alisa Persons, eds. (2004). The magic behind the voices. University Press of Mississippi. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-57806-696-4.
- TV personalities: biographical sketch book: Volume 3. St. Louis, Mo. : TV Personalities. 1957. OCLC 2470684.
- Gumby’ creator Art Clokey, dead at 88, had an especially animated life
- Art Clokey dies at 88; creator of Gumby
- "Who Are Davey and Goliath?". Daveyandgoliath.org. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- Felch, Jason (January 9, 2010). "Art Clokey dies at 88; creator of Gumby". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- Gaylord, Chris (October 12, 2011). "Art Clokey: How Gumby got his name". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- Louis Kaplan; Scott Michaelsen; Art Clokey, eds. (1986). Gumby: the authorized biography of the world's favorite clayboy. Harmony Books.
- 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.
- The Clay Peacock, Gumby World
- Fox, Margalit (January 11, 2010). "Art Clokey, Animator Who Created Gumby, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Pemberton, Patrick S. "'Gumby' creator and Los Osos resident Art Clokey dies", SanLuisObispo.com/The Tribune, January 8, 2010
- Art Clokey: How Gumby got his name, Christian Science Monitor, retrieved 2010-10-12.
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