Art Clokey

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Art Clokey
Born Arthur Charles Farrington
12 October 1921(1921-10-12)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died 8 January 2010(2010-01-08) (aged 88)
Los Osos, California, U.S.
Occupation Animator
Years active 1955–2010
Known for Creator of Gumby
Spouse Ruth Clokey (1948–1966, divorced) 2 children
Gloria Clokey (23 October 1976 – 19 August 1998, her death)

Arthur "Art" Clokey (October 12, 1921 – January 8, 2010) was an American animator. He was one of the first people to make stop motion clay animation popular. His work began in 1955 with a short movie called Gumbasia. Clokey's work was influenced by his professor at the University of Southern California, Slavko Vorkapich.[1][2] He and his wife Ruth later created the clay character Gumby. Gumby and his horse Pokey became popular characters on television. They first appeared in the Howdy Doody Show, and later got their own series The Adventures of Gumby.

Early life[change | change source]

Gumbasia, the 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. He stayed with his father, Charles Farrington. After his father died in a car accident, he went to live with his mother in California. However, his stepfather refused to raise 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.[3][4] Clokey was a classical music composer and organist who taught music in Claremont, California.[4] He taught Arthur painting, drawing, and filmmaking.

The name of Gumby comes from Arthur's childhood, when he would play with a clay and mud mixture called "gumbo".[5]

Clay animation[change | change source]

Before he made Gumby, Clokey did a few experiments with clay animation. Most of these were short movies for adults, including his first movie Gumbasia. Clokey made this in 1953, and released it in 1955. It consisting of animated clay shapes dancing to jazz music. The title Gumbasia was named after Walt Disney's Fantasia. In 1963, he made The Clay Peacock. This was a reinvention of the animated NBC logo of the time.[6] Clokey's third short movie was Mandala (6 minutes, 30 seconds). He made it in 1977, and it was released on August 31, 1979. He described it as a metaphor for the evolving human consciousness. All three of these animations were later released to the public on several collections of Gumby television shorts.

Gumbasia caught the attention of Samuel G. Engel, president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association. He paid Clokey to make a short pilot for what became The Gumby Show (1957). In 1995, Clokey worked with Dallas McKennon to make Gumby: The Movie, a full-length movie. It was not very successful. In the mid-1990s, Nickelodeon signed a contract with Art Clokey to show every episode of Gumby. It was on top of their ratings for over three years.

Clokey's second most-famous work was the Davey and Goliath cartoon.[7]

Death[change | change source]

Clokey died on January 8, 2010, at his home in Los Osos, California. He was 88 years old. He had been suffering from a infection of the bladder.[3][8][9]

References[change | change source]

  1. Tim Lawson, Alisa Persons, ed. (2004). The magic behind the voices. University Press of Mississippi. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-57806-696-4.
  2. TV personalities: biographical sketch book: Volume 3. St. Louis: TV Personalities. 1957. OCLC 2470684.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Felch, Jason (January 9, 2010). "Art Clokey dies at 88; creator of Gumby". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/tv/la-me-art-clokey9-2010jan09,0,5170610.story. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gaylord, Chris (October 12, 2011). "Art Clokey: How Gumby got his name". The Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Horizons/2011/1012/Art-Clokey-How-Gumby-got-his-name. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  5. Louis Kaplan, Scott Michaelsen, Art Clokey, ed. (1986). Gumby: the authorized biography of the world's favorite clayboy. Harmony Books.
  6. The Clay Peacock, Gumby World
  7. "Who Are Davey and Goliath?". Daveyandgoliath.org. http://www.daveyandgoliath.org/whoweare.html. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  8. 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. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/arts/television/11clokey.html. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  9. Pemberton, Patrick S. "'Gumby' creator and Los Osos resident Art Clokey dies", SanLuisObispo.com/The Tribune, January 8, 2010

Other websites[change | change source]