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AnimatorsStop Motion

Art Clokey 1921-2010

Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, died this morning according to San Luis Clokey, who lived in Los Osos, California was 89.

Clokey popularized clay animation with his Gumby cartoons in the 1950s and 60s. His studio thrived for decades doing various Gumby adventures and Davey and Goliath films for television. An excellent illustrated Clokey timeline is at the Premavision website. Gumbasia (1955) is the film that started it all – it’s success led directly to creating the Gumby universe and the Clokey style:

Here are Clokey’s opening titles for Dr. Goldfoot and His Bikini Machine (1965) – with vocals by The Supremes:

Clokey also did a more inventive 3-minute opening title sequence for How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). No one posted that on You Tube, but the whole film is available free (and high quality) on Hulu.

  • BTW, is there a Cartoonist plauge going on????

  • Solid Jackson

    You must mean a plague, or maybe a pox.

  • Paul N

    Thanks Art. Rest in Peace.

  • Stephen

    The very early Gumbys are best, when they were more surreal.

    Please tell me this won’t lead to a CG Gumby feature, or a Zemeckis mocap film with (insert inappropriate star here) as Gumby. Please please…?

  • Bob Porrazzo

    Davey and Goliath was on WABC here in New York I can remember in the 1980’s. Gumby was on channel 5 in the early 90’s or so and on channel 9 later on in the decade.

    Clokey was a genius.

  • NicKramer

    Please don’t give desperate Hollywood producers ideas, Stephen.

    Anyway, thank you Art for your work in clay and voicing Gumby’s pony pal, Pokey. You will be missed.

  • Lucky Jim

    Damn, Gumby was a staple of my childhood viewing habits. Just great, weird stuff that fired up the imagination.

    I’ll miss him.

  • Boy, I was just on his website last night. So sad, he will be missed.

  • I love Gumby…
    I loved The Groobee…
    I loved the imagination and weirdness.
    I am kind of sad.

  • May God hold and keep Art Clokey, one of my childhood heroes.

  • FP

    Dead Clokey. Damn!

  • A great artist and legend in the art of stop-motion.

  • The “Wild Bikini” title sequence was wonderful! Thanks Art for so many saturday morning memories.

  • mrscriblam

    the numerous amounts of brilliant creative people dying as of late is far beyond what is necessary :-(

    god should know people like art are above mortality

  • R.I.P. Art Clokey. You were my first Stop Motion Influence and I owe my career to your genius.

  • james madison

    Great memories of all of Art’s work. Fond memories as Bob Porrazzo mentioned, watching Davey and Goliath on ABC early mornings on Saturday.

    Thank you, Art.

  • Jerry, thanks for the news on this. I don’t even know if it’s hit the wire services but hadn’t by the time I was leaving work at 7pm and I wrote a piece for the station I work for.

    Gumby was always too peculiar for me to like or even watch. But millions enjoyed them and that’s a pretty good legacy. And the titles on the Arkoff picture are just terrific.

  • Few could convey a genuine childlike place of imagination and wonderment quite like Art Clokey.

  • RIP..Jut caught it on GAC..and Dal McKennon before him..

  • Donald Benson

    Idiot producer trying to find a high-concept vehicle hears somebody mention Art Clokey. Dim light bulb over head: An old baby boomer cartoon AND a Saturday Night Live skit COMBINED! And Eddie Murphy is AVAILABLE! . . .

    Anyway, Clokey did a lot of good stuff. Always frustrated that so many of the Gumby shorts were obviously subdivided and/or rescored.

  • When I was in a high school film class, I tried to make a short stop-motion film. With two people working on it, after a week we had only about 15 seconds of completed footage, and the films were supposed to be at least three minutes long to qualify for a grade. We gave up and made a regular 8mm live-action movie instead.

    So Art Clokey should be remembered not only for his great visual style and characters, but because he must have worked himself and his small staff half to death to put it all on the screen!

    Does anyone know the name of the band that supplied the “West Coast cool jazz” music for “Gumbasia?” I’m sure I’d never find the answer anywhere but here…

  • AnthroCoon

    Trivia: A Gumby short got shown on Mystery Sci Theater toward the end of that show’s run.

    In 1990 or so “Gumby: The Green Album” was released–songs related to Gumby by artists ranging from Sly and Robbie to
    Flo and Eddie of The Turtles (“We All Are Gumby” which sounded like Magical Mystery Tour crossed with Sowing the Seeds of Love), Frank Sinatra Jr., and Dweezil and Moon
    Unit Zappa

  • Thanks for all the years of brilliance, Art. Gumby cartoons demonstrate a rambling, whimsical beauty that no cartoon has ever reproduced, or even dared to attempt to follow– with the possible exception of Adventure Time. “Gumbasia” still stands up as a sterling example of surrealism/dada to this day.

  • Ashanti

    Such appealing characters. Thank you for your contribution, Mr. Clokey. Enjoy your afterlife!

  • doop

    Loved Gumby when I was younger. It had a really rich imagination. There were really endless possibilities in that world. There’s nothing on TV that imaginatively stimulating for kids today….

  • Professor Widebottom

    Art kept it simple and surreal, all in a good way. No one seemed to attempt to compete with his style, in terms of the regular TV claymation series (as far as I know). Easy to underestimate, yet Gumby was heavily mass-consumed. I watched those shorts over and over and a few of ’em remain ingrained, iconic, slightly nightmarish and part of the vernacular of that era of kiddie TV junkies.

  • Steve Gattuso

    So many childhood memories were triggered when I heard the news this morning. Thanks for making it all, Art.

  • Rooniman

    Not another great artist!

  • When I was growing up, it was a small bit of pride to know that my church, the Lutheran Church, had funded Art Clokey and “Davey and Goliath”.

    Probably the Lutheran Church’s biggest contribution to pop culture.

  • Helene Curtis

    Eddie Murphy did his original, hilarious “I am Gumby, dammit!” bit in 1982 on SNL as a joke. Today he might agree to star as the character in a bloated mocap disaster entitled “I Am Gumby, Darn It!” because his career is in that magic place.

  • Keith Paynter

    Will he be buried in a large Play-Doh can?

    Thanks for the wonderful childhood, Mr. Clokey.

  • Brad Constantine

    If you get the chance, see Gumby Dharma, about Art’s life and art. very interesting. Rest In Peace, Amigo.

  • FP

    —If you get the chance, see Gumby Dharma—

    Saw it. It’s great. I never would have imagined that the creator of Gumby abandoned his family in the 60s to venture off and become an old hippie, then return to the Gumby-making profession years later. The shot of 80-year-old Clokey dancing with Gumby in a field is great.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    “Will he be buried in a large Play-Doh can?”

    Sounds like something I picture Mr. Bill’s creator being stuck in!

  • Chris S

    Art Clokey yesterday and Dal McKennon just 6 months ago, I wonder if they were close in their later years. Art’s work was so wonderful; such an inspiration. RIP.

  • I didn’t know that Gumby’s head shape was inspired by Colkey’s father’s hair.

  • So sorry to hear about Clokey’s passing. The great thing about the early Gumbys is that they were so simply done that a kid could watch them and think “I can do that!”. And many of us did.
    We could reach into the toy box and find many of the items that were shown in Gumby’s adventures. When the new batch of films were made in the 1960’s they still had an off-kilter charm about them. Two of my favorites from that period were THE SMALL PLANETS and HIDDEN VALLEY. HIDDEN VALLEY has Gumby and Pokey find a veritible Jurassic Park of friendly dinosaurs. All is fine until “the Tyrant”, a T-Rex played feriously straight, nearly devours our heroes who escape in the nick of time. THE SMALL PLANETS also has its moments of menace as Gumby takes a spaceship to run away from home. He and Pokey land on various asteroids where the inhabitants are less than cordial, one baring his fangs due their ruining his “beautiful arpeggio”. Hopefully, Mr. Clokey will be resting peacefully on his own small planet.

  • OM

    …Truly a sad moment in animation history. Every single claymation artist in the current generation owes their career to Clokey’s work, and 45 years later I still remember watching Gumby shorts aired on the local kids shows in Houston and later San Antonio – “Pinky Lee” was a just a bit before my time.

    Rest in Peace, Art. And thanks!

  • If anyone’s interested I have a bunch of photos from a Gumby exhibit I went to in Queens New York in 2005 which I’ve posted up here: I belive all the models and sets are from the 1995 Gumby movie.

  • Dang, that’s sad news… he was an amazing animator who revolutionized the claymation medium and had a definite style. Rest in peace — he lived long.

  • Steven F. Scharff

    I can only hope that the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, which was used as the theme to “Davey and Goliath”, will be played at his funeral.

  • Bill Field

    He was a true original, led his life in a really amazingly spiritual way- I for one, already miss this wonderful artist.

  • John A

    Mr. Bill had been reached for comment. All he could say was”Oh No!”

    Thanks for all the memories, Art. If there is a heaven I hope there’s an exhalted place for people who bring joy to millions of children worldwide.

  • Peter (Dallas McKennon’s grandson)

    Thank you Art for giving my grandfather his most iconic role.

  • Sean

    “Gumbasia” is a classic, but “Mandala” is an absolute must-see. And as far as I know, today is the first time it’s been available for online viewing!


  • Unfortunately, you can’t check out that link on Hulu unless you reside in the United States. Bummer!

    R.I.P. Art Clokey

  • I loved to get up early and watch Davey and Goiath as a kid, and Gumby was a big cult thing in jr. high. There was something charming about what he did. He certainly had an influence on our generation. RIP Mr. Clokey.

  • Here’s a whole bunch of Gumby clips: